<—- Go back to the itinerary in Paris. Read the itinerary in Provence.
Itinerary in Provence: PARIS – VIENNE – AVIGNON 730 km
We leave Paris at 8 am after having rested our car for four long days and head to Avignon. The temperature is rising, we are around 28°C. Around 12 am we stop in Vienne to eat, this is a delightful town with many Roman remains, including the grandiose Theater, the Odeon, the Temple of Rome and Augusta (or Temple of Augustus and Livia), the remains of the Roman walls and other minor monuments.
The Theater of Vienne is a classical theater built on the basis of theaters built in Rome in the second half of the 1st century BC. It is particular for its dimensions which make it the second largest in diameter (130 m.) in the whole of France, after the Autun theater (148 meters). This theater could accommodate about 13,000 spectators.
We arrive in Avignon at 4pm. The city we have chosen as a base for visiting this part of Provence. We stay for 3 nights at the Clarion Hotel Cloitre Saint Louis Avignon, an ex-novitiate for Jesuits located in an excellent position in the historic center of Avignon.
Around 18pm we make a first sight in Avignon. The town is delightful with its majestic Palace of the Popes, its defensive walls and for its scenic position on the Rhone, we liked the remains of the Saint-Bénezet bridge very much. In 1995 the suburban center of Avignon with the Pope’s Palace and the bridge were declared a World Heritage Site by UNESCO. The Popes’ Palace (XIV century) which looks like a fortress was decorated by Simone Martini and Matteo Giovanetti, dominates the city. In Avignon there are also interesting examples of Gothic architecture such as the Petit Palais and the Romanesque cathedral of Notre-Dame-des-Doms.
Itinerary in Provence: AVIGNON – GORGES DE L’ARDECHE – VAISON LA ROMAINE – NYONS – AVIGNON 300 km
This morning we leave around 9am and head towards the first stop of our day, the Gorges de l’Ardèche. It is the place we most wanted to visit during this stay in the south of France and what we see is certainly not less than expected: the river has dug a suggestive canyon in the mountains. We stop at all the viewpoints that we find on the road (the Route des Gorges de l’Ardèche), each shows us truly beautiful views of the canyon. Down on the river you can see many canoes of people who are paddling inside these gorges, it must be a wonderful experience, we promised ourselves that when we return to this area it will be something we will certainly do.
Finally we come to the wonderful arch that was excavated by the river, after seeing so many cities an immersion in nature was needed. The next stop takes us to another interesting place for its Roman ruins: Vaison la Romaine here we visit what remains of the ancient Roman city where remains of houses and shops are visible, a theater, a bridge and an interesting archaeological museum. Last stop for today is the nearby (16 km) Nyons which has a beautiful medieval bridge as its main attraction.
Itinerary in Provence: AVIGNON – PONT DU GARD – NIMES – ARLES – LE BAUX DE PROVENCE – ST. REMY DE PROVENCE – AVIGNON 150 km
PONT DU GARD AND NIMES
Today visit the most beautiful Roman monument of this trip, also from 1985 declared by UNESCO a world heritage site: the Pont du Gard, a beautiful Roman aqueduct that brought water to the city of Nîmes, almost 50 meters high with three levels of arches and 275 meters long.
Really a work of high engineering, the natural context in which it is located is very beautiful. It is possible to walk part of the aqueduct on foot. Our next destination is the aqueduct terminal: the city of Nîmes, here we visit the Arena, a 1st century Roman amphitheater, and the Maison Carrée, an imperial era temple (1st century) located in the center of the city forum Roman. Also interesting is the Castellum, which is the terminal of the Pont du Gard aqueduct, a basin for the distribution of water carved into the rock with a diameter of 5.9 meters and a depth of 1.4 meters. The Tour Magne, on the other hand, is a tower, 32 meters high, of the fortified Roman wall, located on the hill overlooking Nimes.
We then visit Arles, another place declared in 1981 by UNESCO as a world heritage site. Here too there is a beautiful Roman Amphitheater or Arena which was built around 80 BC. Among the wonders of Arles there is also a beautiful church: that of Saint Trophime which with its portal and its cloister is one of the most beautiful Romanesque monuments in Provence. Next stop is Le Baux de Provence, a village with a medieval castle located in a beautiful area full of white rocks. From the top where the fortress is located, you can enjoy a view that embraces Provence and the Camargue. Along the short road that takes us back to Avignon, we stop in St. Remy de Provence, the ancient Glanum, where there are other interesting Roman remains, including a beautiful funerary monument: the Mausolée des Jules and an Arc de Triomphe.
Itinerary in Provence: AVIGNON – CORNICHE DE L’ESTEREL 300 km
Today is the last day of vacation, the day of transfer home. We start at 8am from Avignon, along the way we make several detours, the first we do in Frejus to travel the Corniche de l’Esterel to Cannes. We suddenly find ourselves surrounded by red rocks that recall the color of what we saw at Bryce Canyon, but unlike this we have the sea of the French Riviera in front of us, the show is amazing! Finally we stopped in Monaco where we take a walk in the characteristic principality.