The Pont Julien at Bonnieux
The Luberon in Provence is best known for its beautiful ‘villages perchés’ which visitors flock to in large numbers especially during July and August. Many are unaware of the existence of Pont Julien and indeed some visitors simply stumble upon it while visiting the most well known of these villages, Bonnieux.
Named after the nearby town of Julia Apta, now known as Apt, this ancient and amazing stone bridge built in the year 3BC, stands majestically just off the D900 from Avignon to Apt. Used originally by Roman soldiers and traders it went on to carry vehicular traffic for more than two millennia.
It continued to serve many generations of Provençaux right up to 2005 when the last car, driven by an expatriate Irishman living in nearby Lacoste, Finnbar Mac Eoin, crossed over it. A plaque on the bridge declares “We do not know who was the first person to cross but an Irishman was the last .” Nowadays only pedestrians and cyclists are allowed to cross.
The Pont Julien originally carried the Via Domitia, the Roman Road from Italy to Spain, over the Calavon River and was built with such precision that the limestone blocks, cut from the Luberon Mountains, needed no mortar. The portals between the arches allowed flood water through and the continued existence of this wonderful structure testifies to the genius of the Roman engineers who built it.
For more articles by Paul Shawcross click here.
Stay Near Pont Julien
If you are looking for a comfortable place to call “home” during your stay in Provence our holiday listings include charming B&Bs, village homes and beautiful countryside villas.
Village House: Au Coin des Amis is a gem of a village home in Rustrel, a quiet Luberon Valley. Dating from the 1700s, this fully-restored three (3)-bedroom house is just this side of heaven. The 190 sm / 2,000 sq ft home was previously owned and elegantly and meticulously restored by an antiquarian. This special home has a superb charm and architectural detail and is artfully blended with modern and stylish bathrooms, kitchen and living spaces.
B&B: Le petit Figuier (The little Figtree) is an adorable bed and breakfast in the centre of the old part of La Roque d’Anthéron, recognized for its 4-week International Piano Festival at the Parc de Château de Florans and also the famous Silvacane Abbey (one of the ‘3 sisters in Provence’). This B&B has two comfortable guest rooms. Throughout the year the Danish/English owners welcome guests from all over the world to their quiet corner of Provence.
Village Apartment: Experience village life in our Bonnieux apartment. Bonheur en Bonnieux is a newly renovated 1300-square foot, three-bedroom/two bathroom apartment located in the heart of Bonnieux. Guests especially enjoy the large, well-equipped kitchen and the adjoining covered terrace where you can relax over a meal, sip a glass of wine, and observe Bonnieux’s daily life.
Apartments: Cent Cinq welcomes guests all year round for short and long stays. These newly renovated self-catering apartments are located in an 18th-century townhouse in Apt, a vibrant market town in the heart of the Luberon. Each apartment has a bedroom and bathroom and an open plan kitchen and living area and sleeps a maximum of 3 guests.
Villa: If you are looking for a perfect holiday rental property with a heated pool, Les Vallons sleeps 12 people. This holiday rental delivers complete seclusion near the beautiful Luberon National Park and charming villages. Les Vallons is a fully restored hamlet in the countryside near the provençal village of Cucuron.
Countryside Farmhouse: Chez Manon is an 18th-century farmhouse (French “mas”) that has been restored to reflect its provençal origins while incorporating modern comforts. It has a heated pool, professionally landscaped grounds, well-equipped open plan living and five comfortable bedrooms.