The Avignon bridge saved in the 19th centurye century

The Avignon bridge saved in the 19th century<sup>e</sup> century


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  • Saint-Bénézet Bridge.

    CARIST

  • Saint-Bénézet Bridge.

    CARIST

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Title: Saint-Bénézet Bridge.

Author : CARIST (-)

Creation date : 1825

Date shown:

Dimensions: Height 0 - Width 0

Technique and other indications: Plan drawn up by Caristie, engineer of the borough, showing the bridge, its four arches and its chapel as is. Plan, colors. Scale: 10 cm for 40 m

Storage location: Vaucluse Departmental Archives website

Contact copyright: © Vaucluse Departmental Archives

© Vaucluse Departmental Archives

To close

Title: Saint-Bénézet Bridge.

Author : CARIST (-)

Creation date : 1825

Date shown:

Dimensions: Height 0 - Width 0

Technique and other indications: Plan drawn up by Caristie, engineer of the borough, showing the bridge as it could be after restoration. Plan, colors. Scale: 10 cm for 40 m.

Storage location: Vaucluse Departmental Archives website

Contact copyright: © Vaucluse Departmental Archives

© Vaucluse Departmental Archives

Publication date: November 2003

Historical context

A legendary bridge

By virtue of a childish round, the Saint-Bénézet bridge is undoubtedly the most famous monument of medieval Provence.

According to legend, it was in 1177 that a young shepherd called Bénézet and claiming to be sent from God came to Avignon to build a bridge over the Rhône. Execution performance - quickly attributed to divine intervention! - which rested on the stone piles of a Roman bridge from the Late Empire, surmounted by a wooden deck. In the following century, the people of Avignon enjoyed an entirely stone bridge, modeled on the one we know.

A major north-south thoroughfare, from Lyon to Marseille, the river has been a border on which since Antiquity men have strived to maintain transverse traffic. The establishment of the papacy in Avignon in the 14th century led to an incessant movement of travelers, an influx of population and an increase in trade which caused the meteoric development of the city.

Victim of human conflicts but even more of the river floods, the "Pont d'Avignon" remained a permanent site until the middle of the 17th century when, faced with the violence of the Rhône, men abandoned the incessant reconstruction of the twenty-two. arches of the medieval stone bridge. In 1668, a “ferry” was put into service. The solution prevailed until the beginning of the 19th century, reinforced by Avignon's status as a foreign land.

The industrial revolution resurfaced the need for a bridge to meet the needs of trade between the two banks and, in 1812, a new bridge, made of wood, spanned the river.

Image Analysis

Consolidation plans

The two plans dated February 20, 1825 were drawn up by Caristie, engineer of the district. The first shows, as is, the bridge with the four remaining arches, the Saint-Nicolas chapel and the Châtelet tower located at the end of the structure. The second reconstructs them as they might be after restoration.

What to do with the old medieval bridge? Some had dreamed of rebuilding it or resuscitating it, but the priority was to prevent the complete ruin of the four remaining arches, the fall of which would have inevitably blocked navigation on the little arm of the Rhône. A consolidation, if not a real restoration, was needed, and very quickly. In a service order of Saturday, May 19, 1827 at seven o'clock in the morning, because of the heavy rain, the contractor was asked to pitch a tent over the crack in the second pile "so as to prevent the rain to penetrate ”and“ to pour good concrete there, to make the workers work until night and Sunday, and even with torches if necessary ”.

The work decided on does not necessarily correspond to an archaeological or aesthetic concern, it is undertaken and continued urgently to prevent the collapse of the bridge.

Interpretation

From ruin to monument

Until the opening, in 1820, of a new bridge spanning the Rhône to the south of the old Roman bridge, it was by means of ferries that trade crossed the river. In ruins for nearly two centuries, the old Roman bridge then gains its survival. From the watercolor plans of Caristie in 1825 to the first real restorations in October 1828, the fate of the "Avignon bridge" is affirmed: now closed to traffic, it will remain the beautiful image of a song. Materially and sentimentally, it could no longer disappear, and its protection as historical monuments was ensured, from 1840, with all the monuments in Avignon. Today's tourism logic confirms the relevance of the past choice.

  • patrimony
  • Restoration
  • engineer

Bibliography

“Saint-Bénézet: file published on the occasion of the exhibition”, in Mémoires de l'Académie de Vaucluse, p.97-210.1984 Passages from one bank to the other, catalog of the exhibition of the Departmental Archives of VaucluseJune 2000-April 2001.BRETON (Alain) “The restorations of the Saint-Bénézet bridge”, in Directory of the Society of Friends of the Popes' Palace and Avignon Monuments, p.87-94.1986-1987 MERIMEE ProsperNotes of a voyage in the south of France, p.102.Paris, reprint Adam Biro, 1989.PERROT (R.), GRANIER (J.) and GAGNIERE (S.) “Contribution to the study of the Saint-Bénézet bridge” , in Mémoires de l'Académie de Vaucluse, p.67-93.1971

To cite this article

Françoise CHAUZAT, "The Avignon bridge saved in the 19the century "


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