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International Music & Culture
A place for poems, songs, rhymes and traditions from around the world for both kids and grown-ups to enjoy!
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Many people know the song Sur le pont d’Avignon (On the Bridge of Avignon). During my recent trip to France, I was lucky enough to see the actual bridge that the song is about.

Here is what the real Bridge of Avignon looks like…

Photo of the Bridge of Avignon

Though the words to the song are about dancing on the bridge, if you were to actually try to dance across it, you’d end up in the river! This bridge is broken – and is actually only partially there!

Photo of the Bridge of Avignon

The bridge was first built in the 12th century. However, the Rhone River beneath it kept damaging it. It was repaired and rebuilt many times. Finally, in the 1600’s they gave up and stopped fixing it.

You can still visit it today, as we did last month. I’ve been humming the song ever since!

Avignon was also the site of the papacy during the “Babylonian Captivity” of the fourteenth century. Today, the impressive palace where the Popes resided is open to the public. Here’s a photo of it…

Photo of the Papal Palace in Avignon

Here are the lyrics to Sur le pont d’Avignon in French, with an English translation and the midi tune…

Midi Tune of Sur le pont d’Avignon

Sur le pont d’Avignon
(French)

Refrain
Sur le pont d’Avignon
On y danse, on y danse
Sur le pont d’Avignon
On y danse tout en rond

1 Les beaux messieurs font comme ça
Et puis encore comme ça.

Refrain

2 Les belles dames font comme ça
Et puis encore comme ça.

Refrain.

On the Bridge of Avignon
(English Translation)

Chorus
On the bridge of Avignon
They are dancing, they are dancing,
On the bridge of Avignon
They are dancing all around.

1 The handsome gentlemen go this way,
And then again go that way.

Chorus

2 The pretty dames go this way,
And then again go that way.

Chorus.

Many thanks to Monique Palomares of Mama Lisa’s World en français for the midi tune and to Calvin Pomerantz for the second photo of the Bridge of Avignon!

Come visit the Song Page of Sur le pont d’Avignon for sheet music, a Spanish translation and other information about this song.

Mama Lisa

Photo of the Sign for the Bridge of Avignon

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This artilce was posted on Wednesday, April 23rd, 2008 at 10:06 pm and is filed under Children's Songs, Countries & Cultures, France, French, French Kids Songs, Languages, Mama Lisa, Provence, Sur le pont d'Avignon. You can follow any responses to this entry through the RSS 2.0 feed. You can leave a response, or trackback from your own site.

9 Responses to “Sur le pont d’Avignon… about the Bridge of Avignon and its Song”

  1. Monique Says:

    I’d like to add that Benezet is the Occitan form of Benedict (Benoît in French).

  2. Silje Says:

    I learned this at school in one of my French-class, many years ago.
    I remember that we also learned it in Norwegian, and it goes like this:

    På broen i Avignon
    se de danser, se de danser
    på broen i Avignon
    se de danser rundt i ring.

    De kjekke herremenn danser hit
    De kjekke herremenn danser dit

    På broen i Avignon
    se de danser, se de danser
    på broen i Avignon
    se de danser rundt i ring.

    De vakre piker danser hit.
    De vakre piker danser dit.

    På broen i Avignon
    se de danser, se de danser
    På broen i Avignon
    se de danser rundt i ring.


    Translated into English, it would be something like this:

    At the bridge in Avignon
    look, they’re dancing, look, they’re dancing
    At the bridge in Avignon
    look, they’re dancing ’round in whirls.

    The handsome gentlemen are dancing here
    The handsome gentlemen are dancing there

    refrain.

    The pretty young ladies are dancing here
    the pretty young ladies are dancing there

    refrain.

  3. Lisa Says:

    Thanks for teaching us the Norwegian version of Sur le pont d’Avignon! Is the tune the same for it?

    FYI: We added it to our collection of Norwegian Children Songs.

    -Mama Lisa

  4. Dawn Scott Says:

    I also remembered this song a few days ago, but couldn’t rember any of the verses only the chorus.

    I didn’t expect to get any luck – thanks for this website.

  5. MARIE Says:

    A new commercial for some computer-like toy has the girl using the gadget playing this tune. Yet another you can’t get out of your mind! I also recall learning this song in French class and just had to refresh my memory by looking up the words. Many thanks!

  6. Pip Says:

    My parents had a 1950s record called A table in Monmatre which had a night club version of this song – I recently managed to find a copy of it on ebay. the words are the same, but the tune is much jazzier – you can imgine a line of men and women, scantily clad, dancing comme ca.

  7. Barbara Says:

    I learned this song at school.
    There was another verse, but I can’t remeber the French words.
    Can you help:

    The translation is:

    Under the bridge at Avignon
    The beggars (or Robbers) are waiting
    The beggars (or Robbers) are waiting

    Under the bridge at Avignon
    The beggars (or Robbers) are waiting
    For the (pennies) to fall though.

    Explaination being that the bridge was made of wooden planks and as people danced the money would fall out of their pockets, and the beggars/ robbers woild wait under the bridge.

  8. Rex Witcher Says:

    I learned this song in a French Class at Southern Methodist University in Dallas, TX. I am going to France on Sept 1 and remembered the chorus while studying a few French phrases.

  9. Robin Sutherland Says:

    Before the locals gave up repairing the bridge the dancing took place in a cafe under one of the arches and the original song was dancing under the bridge, but had to be changed when this was no longer possible.

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