In the first century BC Julius Caesar conquered the area between the sea, the Alpes and the Rhône. The roman Provincia Romana, we know today as the Provence. Especially Arles became a very important city. After the collapse of the roman empire in the 5th century, the area was invaded several times.
In the 14th century the Pope was no longer safe in Rome, and moved to the city Avignon. Zeven Popes stayed here. But due to the Western Schism, we had two Popes at the same time: one in Rome and 1 in Avignon (the so called anti-popes).
♥ Avignon ♥ Nîmes
♥ Pont du Gard ♥ Arles
♥ Roman baths, theatres and crypts
♥ Abbey of Montmajour and St-Trophime cloister
Follow the traces of the Romans and the Middle Ages. You can buy a pass that allows you to visit 4 different monuments and 1 museum. This pass costs you 11/12 euros, you can buy this at the entrance of one of the monuments or at the tourist information center.
With this pass I visited the baths of Constantine (4th century), the antique theathre and the roman crypts. In the baths of Constantine you can find the remains of the place where the romans… used to take their bath. With a genious system they made sure that there was hot air going underneath the warm water bath. Then they went to a bath with a mediocre temperature, and at last they went in the cold water bath. In the antique theatre, plays were performed for the civilians of Arles. A movie shows you that even back then they could create some ‘special effects’ to add some dimension to the play. This theatre is 104 metres long. Throughout the centuries there has been lots of damage.
Also take a walk around the beautiful roman amphitheatre, I didn’t visit this one because I’ve already seen the Colosseum in Rome. This theatre dates back from the first century, and is a UNESCO world heritage site. Some 21000 people can be seated here.
I also took a visit to the museum Réattu. The building of the museum is very pretty. Inside you’ll find the art of Réattu (17th century) amongst others. Also contemporary exhibitions. Finally I visited the St-Trophime Cloister, constructed in the 11 and 12 th century.
Take a drive outside of Arles to visit the abbey of Montmajour (Fontvieille). This is one of the prettiest abbeys I’ve seen so far.
Pont du Gard
This is just a Roman masterpiece.This aquaduct was build is 19 BC. In the nearby museum you can see how the Romans provided their cities with water coming from the mountains and how they built this monument. Along the sides you can enjoy the river and take a swim.
♥ Arena, Maison Carrée and temple of Diana
Nîmes is called ‘the Rome of France’. The arena is an amphitheatre of 133 by 101 meters. It was built around 50-100 AC, the Colosseum in Rome was their inspiration. Around 25000 people can be seated here. You can still watch bull fights and attend music events if you like. Another Roman building is ‘Maison Carrée‘. In 19 BC this temple was built for Marcus Agrippa. The temple is very beautiful and there isn’t alot of damage. Nowadays it serves as a museum. Last we have the temple of Diana in Les jardins de la Fontaine.
♥ Palais des Papes
In the 14th century there were some trouble in Rome. Filips IV, the king of France, could convince pope Clemens V to come to Avignon. The popes officially stayed in Avignon for 68 years, till the year 1377 when Gregorius XI returned to Rome. Clemens V and his successors ordered to build the ‘Palais des Papes‘, palace of the popes. When the popes returned to Rome, the french weren’t to happy about it. They chose their own French pope. So we had one pope in Rome, and one in Avignon. This problem was resolved in 1418.
Palais des Papes is the main atraction of Avignon. Take an audiotour inside to get to know more about the history. Take a stoll along the city walls and see the famous Pont d’Avignon. The actual name of this bridge is Pont- Saint- Bénézet.