In the footsteps of Charity Selborne

Bonjour! I thought I’d share a few more photos from Avignon, which is of course the setting for Mary Stewart’s 1954 debut novel Madam, Will You Talk?

The Pont d’Avignon or Pont St-Bénézet is a famous landmark in Avignon and it also features in Madam:

the old bridge of the song came into view, its four remaining arches soaring out across the green water to break off, as it were, in midleap, suspended half-way across the Rhone. Down into the deep jade water glimmered the drowned-gold reflection of the chapel of St Nicholas, which guards the second arch. Here, held by a spit of sand, the water is still, rich with the glowing colours of stone and shadow and dipping boughs, but beyond the sand-bank the slender bridge thrusts out across a tearing torrent.

We first looked at the bridge on the evening of our arrival in Avignon.

Pont d’Avignon

It was too late in the day to walk (or dance) on the bridge: the entrance was shut and the drawbridge up.

No access onto Pont d’Avignon: the drawbridge is up

And then I saw David, playing with Rommel beside the pool under the chapel.

We did not see anyone playing in or next to the water. True, it is only March but also where the water is shallow it looks a bit muddy and murky, as though the ‘spit of sand’ is submerged:

Sous le Pont d’Avignon

‘Tell the concierge I’ll pay for you on my way down’… Boy and dog vanished into the concierge’s lodge and presently emerged onto the bridge… We sang ‘Sur le pont d’Avignon’ 

These days, the ‘concierge’s lodge’ is rather more hi-tech with audio-guides and display boards, and sadly I doubt that a present-day boy David –  plus dog – would gain access to the bridge for free on the promise of payment on departure. But for those who do get onto the bridge, you can sing, dance or simply enjoy the beautiful views and sunshine.

Narrowest part of the bridge, at the chapel of St Nicholas
The edge of Pont d’Avignon

À tout à l’heure!