‘On the bridge of Avignon, everybody dances’ begins the well-known French song. Although never wide enough for circle dancing and with only four of its original twenty-two stone arches remaining, Le Pont d’Avignon figures prominently in local history and lore. The only bridge over the Rhône south of Lyon, it was a crucial link between east and west and while each maintained a guard house with drawbridge, it also linked the Avignon papacy with the French monarchy. The papal court settled in lands it held in southern France following the election of a French pope in 1309. Over the course of the century, with the successive election of six additional popes (and two anti-popes), the papacy secured its position along the Rhône. The Avignon popes surrounded their city with three miles of defensive walls and at its center built an elaborate palace -- the largest gothic structure in the world. Resembling a fortress with its pointed towers and crenelated walls, this grandiose symbol of earthly as well as spiritual power is now one of the most visited monuments in France and home to an international theater festival in July.
Set in the countryside to the west of Avignon, is an important Roman monument, the Pont du Gard. Dating from 19 BCE, this imposing structure is impressive not only for its sheer size but also for its display of technical ingenuity. Part of an engineering work designed to carry spring water over 30 miles to the city of Nîmes, the 2000-year-old Pont du Gard is today one of the highest surviving Roman aqueducts and one of the best preserved, having served for most of its history as a bridge over the Gardon river, a tributary of the Rhône.
Led by Pamela Morton, art historian and long-time resident of Provence, this interactive seminar will focus on two UNESCO World Heritage Sites - the historic center of Avignon including the Palace of the Popes and the Avignon bridge, and the Pont du Gard Roman aqueduct. Designed to inform curiosity as well as future travels, participants will come away with an increased knowledge of the history, art and architecture of a picturesque and rich cultural region in the south of France.
About Your Expert
Originally from the US, Pamela has lived in France (Aix-en-Provence and Marseille) for 25 years. Pamela teaches studio art and art history for American university programs in Aix. She trained in art restoration in Italy and has a background in museum work as a curatorial assistant and program director. She is also an artist working in mixed media -- drawing and painting. She attended Bennington College and California College of the Arts. She's worked as the on-site director for a study abroad program and for educational programs including the Smithsonian, Alumni International and Cultural Experiences Abroad. She's taught for Northwestern University, Oberlin College, and the Marchutz School of Art (Aix). As an art historian, Pamela is endlessly fascinated by the local culture, the archaeology, history, and architecture of the region as well as its monuments and museums. As a painter, she is intrigued by the light and colors of this southern realm, the Midi, where so many artists lived and worked. Her two favorite artists from Provence are Cézanne and van Gogh.
This conversation is suitable for all ages.
90 minutes, including a 30 minute Q&A.
Very well done. The instructor was very knowledgeable and presented the information very well. Very good visuals. I will be in France and this seminar helps me plan my trip. Thank-you.
Pamela gave another wonderful presentation ! A great overview of the frequently overlooked gem of Avignon and a great summary of the Pont du Gard !
Pamela's specificity with maps and directions will really improve my visit there in March! Also appreciated the many small museums and sites she noted.
Learned a lot - we love the Provence cities and towns and like learning more about them.
Ms Morton is simply wonderful. Her slides were excellent; clear, concise and informative. After listening to her 90 minute seminar I have a sense of layout and significance of the town and can’t wait to see it in person. I have already signed up for more of her Context Travel conversations.