September 6th
2009
written by Alonna

Ben and I spent about 3 days exploring Provence, France.  Our rental car was great for driving through the countryside and visiting small towns (but a bit stressful driving and parking in the cities).  We stayed 2 nights in Arles, and one night further north in the Cote du Rhone area.  If I were doing it over, I’d spend more time exploring the Cote du Rhone hill towns, they’re beautiful.

Here’s some of the highlights from Southern France…


Roman Ruins

The first two photos below are of an ancient Roman arena in Nimes where they held gladiator fights.  Later it was fortified for living/defense purposes, and then later used for bullfighting.  They still put on bullfights and other shows here, but unfortunately nothing was scheduled while we were in town.  The last photo is a Roman building called the Maison Carré, one of the best preserved Roman temples in the world.
 
Ancient Roman arena in Nimes, France Ancient Roman arena in Nimes, France Maison Curree - ancient Roman temple

Our favorite Roman site in Provence was the Pont du Gard, part of a giant Roman aqueduct system.  You can walk across a tourist bridge to get to the other side, and there’s tons of hiking trails so you can get photos of the Pont du Gard from every possible angle.  It’s hard to capture in photos, but this aqueduct is huge!  It was built entirely without mortar and one of the arches is the largest Roman arch still standing.
 
Pont du Gard Pont du Gard Alonna Ben

More roman ruins… the first two are near an old roman city in St Remy de Provence, the last photo is from the Roman arena in Arles (you can see the tall rectangular fortification – this arena was also used as a castle during medieval times).
 
Ancient Roman ruins Ancient Roman arch Ancient Roman arena in Arles, France


Medieval Sites

The place below is called Les Baux de Provence, a small village and old castle on top of the hill.  We didn’t tour it, but walked through the small medieval streets.
 
Les Baux, France Les Baux, France

We stopped briefly in Avignon.  The Palace of the Popes (first photo below) was impressive. During a brief stint in the 14th century the Pope moved to France.  Later the Papacy moved back to Rome, and there was a big conflict between France and Rome over who was the real pope (Rome won). Also, apparently the bridge shown below is famous, “The Bridge of Avignon”.  But it’s just a ridiculous tourist trap if you ask me.  People actually paid 4.50 euro to walk out on this tourist-filled bridge.  We skipped it.
 
Palace of the Popes in Avignon Bridge of Avignon, filled with tourists Palace of the Popes in Avignon

My favorite hill-town stop in Cote du Rhone was Vaison-la-Romaine.  We got there late in the evening so the sunlight and clouds where picture-perfect.  There’s an old medieval villiage and we hiked to the top (it was free, which was surprising since most places, like Les Baux, were charging for this).  The streets were so cute… I would love to spend more time here.  Unfortunately we didn’t get any photos of the city from a distance, but here’s a few from within the city and at the top.
 
Vaison-la-Romaine Street in Vaison-la-Romaine Ben and Alonna


Scenery

Here’s some pretty pictures of the Provence countryside.
 
Provence, France Hill town in the Cote du Rhone View from Vaison-la-Romaine Alonna - Provence, France

4 Comments

  1. Sandra Capri
    09/06/2009

    wow! I’d forgotten about the Pont du Gard and the ancient arena where they are still doing the bullfighting! Keep up the great photos!
    Please tell me that you did at least sing the “Sur le Pont D’Avignon…” song while looking at 🙂

  2. 09/06/2009

    Sorry, I don’t know that song. Glad you’re enjoying the photos. Wait until you see our Chamonix pics… I’m in Heaven!

  3. Mom Albertus
    09/07/2009

    Fascinating and beautiful!!!

  4. Clay
    09/09/2009

    Wow cools stuff! I like hearing about Roman stuff. Yeah that aqueduct is interesting! In the pictures it does not look very big but you can tell it is cause of the tiny people you see on and below it. Its kind of like a illusion or something =D