Lifestyle: Art & CulturePaul ShawcrossProvencal History & Traditions

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.

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Paul Shawcross

Paul Shawcross

Paul Shawcross is a Francophile, a travel writer and a Photographer who first fell in love with France when passing through on the way to Spain way back in 1979.

Paul has revised and written new text for several Michelin Green Guides to the French Regions as well as penning several Thomas Cook Pocket Guides and contributing articles to leading periodicals including Living France and France Magazine. He has authored several apps for smart devices and has a new one for Nice in preparation. Paul is also the European Acquisitions Editor for Bindu Trips , a recently launched travel planning website which features Provence along with many other European destinations

Paul also has a large photo library much of which is hosted by Alamy Images

Further details of Paul’s work can be found here

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Follow Paul on Twitter @PaulShawcrossUK (below)

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