4-day trip to France – Provence
Visiting the city of Avignon, Popes’ Palace, Pont du Gard, Nimes, Maison Carre, Jardin de la Fontaine, Tour Magne, Arles, Montmajour Abbey, St Trophime, Carcassonne, Lourdes, Biarritz, Perpignan, Palace of the Kings of Majorca.
The arrival in Provence, both for the traffic and for the strong wind, it was not easy.
Anyway, we managed to arrive in Avignon in the early afternoon.
Avignon and the Papal Palace
The old city of Avignon is surrounded by fifteenth century high walls reinforced with about a hundred square or round towers.
The Papal Palace is impressive and its exterior is very nice. Unfortunately, the interior had not yet been restored .
The numerous rooms are immense with beautiful ceilings and huge fireplaces; the entrance door, finely decorated with marble bas-reliefs, is stunning.
Bridge of St. Bénézet, Zecca and St Peter Church
The city of Avignon is washed by the Rhone river where there is the very famous bridge of St. Benezet which dates back to the end of the eleventh century. Only some of its arches, including the beautiful chapel of St. Nicholas, remain intact.
Just in front of the Papal Palace there is the building for coining money (Zecca) whose façade is finely crafted .
We visited the Saint Peter Church admiring its Renaissance finely carved doors, very beautiful.
Arles with the largest Roman Amphitheatre in France
The lovely town of Arles is situated on the banks of the Grand Rhone river and is at the northern edge of the Camargue plain.
Arles is famous for having the largest Roman Amphitheatre in France.
Although the Amphitheatre dates back to the second century, it is still very well preserved.
Arles, Roman Amphitheatre now used for bullfights
Huge blocks of stone were used for the construction of the massive walls. The Amphitheatre is currently used for performances of all kinds, including bullfights. In fact, in this part of France, in addition to bullfights it is easy to find Spanish food such as paella.
Not far, there is a Roman Theatre of the first century BC.
Arles, Church of St. Trophime
It is very important the Church of St. Trophime which has a portal of immense beauty.
The sculptures, among the elegant columns, represent saints, the Evangelists, the Apostles, the Annunciation and the Nativity.
Equally important, the cloister with beautiful columns and carved capitals.
My attention was attracted by the beauty of the well.
Before leaving Arles, we visited Les Alyscamps, an ancient Roman necropolis.
Fortified Montmajour Abbey
It is an important Romanesque building of the twelfth century with a beautiful cloister and a massive rectangular tower from which you can enjoy a beautiful panorama.
A comment about the cost of the entrance ticket: St.Trophime in Arles costed € 10.5, Montmajour Abbey costed € 5.5.
The former was expensive but it was worth it. The latter was decidedly too much expensive.
Nimes (called the “French Rome”)
Nimes is a beautiful town of the Lower Languedoc region which has so numerous and well- preserved Roman monuments that it is called the “French Rome”.
The Roman Amphitheatre, despite the fact that in the Middle Ages it had been transformed into a fortress and inside they built houses and a church, is very well restored. Nowdays it appears as one of the best preserved Amphitheatre in France.
It is still used for performances both in summer and in winter.
Nimes, la Maison Carré
Anther beautiful monument is the Maison Carré, a Roman temple dated 20 B.C., very well maintained with beautiful Corinthian columns.
It is also beautiful the Jardins de la Fontaine (Gardens of the Fountain) with different basins and Roman baths. On the highest point in the centre of the park it stands the imposing Roman tower called Tour Magne (Great Tower) which offers a great view of the city.
Pont du Gard (Roman aqueduct XIX BC)
About twenty kilometers from Nimes, on the Gardon River, we could admire the magnificent Roman aqueduct, the Pont du Gard, built in the 19th to C. to bring water to Nimes.
Only having the patience and the breath to climb the side paths you can understand its magnificence.
Its condition of preservation is great and it is fascinating to see the various layers of limestone left over the centuries by the flowing water.
Carcassonne (called “merveille du Midi”)
After Nimes, we arrived to the fortified city of Carcassonne which, for its beauty, is called by the French “merveille du Midi“. It was interesting to wander through the narrow pedestrian streets of the old town.
We continued our journey and in bit more than three hours we arrived in Lourdes.
The atmosphere of Lourdes is twofold.
There is the “commercial side” aimed at fleecing the tourist , who is not a tourist since he comes to Lourdes as a “pilgrim” for his faith and who, for his faith, is forced to let them fleece him.
There is the “mystique side” that affects everyone, even those who are not … believers.
Lourdes, the pilgrims
There are times, perhaps only short moments, in which the Faith embraces all and you share the sufferings of others people.
You attend the Holy Mass, you see suffering people and you suffer for them.
Unfortunately, just few minutes later, it is enough to be attracted to something different and everything is as before .
Maybe it’s a good thing, however it is sad.
We went on towards the Atlantic coast and visited the beautiful Biarritz which offers wonderful views.
After spending some days in Spain we returned to Italy with a stop in Perpignan.
Within the Citadel, it is beautiful the lower chapel of the Palace of the Kings of Majorca.