France's Romananesque Heritage.

Trip Start Feb 01, 2005
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346
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Trip End Dec 31, 2018


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Where I stayed
Mistral Avignon
Read my review - 4/5 stars

Flag of France  , Provence,
Tuesday, August 16, 2011

The amphitheatre at Arles was a big surprise. We've been to Rome and seen the Colosseum. We've seem amphitheatres in many parts of the world including Syria and Jordan but this one was amazing. It is used currently for - bullfights! Yes France has them to - who would have thought... We walked around the passageways and tiers and imagined a time of Roman use. It was getting late so we didn't stay too long then headed off to Avignon where we had booked a room for the night, our last night on the road before we return the hire car to Nice.

Arriving in Avignon just as it was getting dark, we checked in to our budget hotel them walked about 4 kilomteres into the old walled city to get a meal. Next day we took the car in, which was a bit of mistake, as the roads are so narrow inside the city that backing up is required just to get around bends and even with a small car we were quite challenged when the street had buildings either side. We snuck an illegal park for a brief while and took it in turns to go and see the 14th century Papal Palace for which Avignon is famous. It is the largest Gothic palace in Europe and at one time the Pope moved here to be safer than in Rome. We had been to Avignon in 2005 and had seen the also famed "Bridge to Nowhere" but had not seen the Papal Palace then.  

Escaping the narrow cobblestone streets of Avignon, we set off to see Pont Du Gard. This UNESCO World Heritage Site is an exceptionally well preserved 3 tiered Roman aquaduct built in 19BC. So long ago!! It soars 50 metres above the river and is on a huge scale. It is a popular picnic spot for the French, with a swimming beach on the river and canoeing and rock climbing activities.

After lunching at Pont Du Gard we set off for the city of Orange. Here we saw another magnificent and huge Roman theatre, this time used for opera, ballet and concerts.
The Romans loved building lasting monuments for their entertainment venues! Here in Orange we also saw a heritage listed Triumphal Arch.

One final leg of our long, long road trip in France was now left, to take us into Nice and the Avis car return depot. On the way, with dusk setting in, we spotted an amazing walled city perched on a hill and stopped to photograph it, then headed in to Nice. The traffic jams were crazy and for a one kilometre stretch it took us 20 minutes. We seriously felt we were in danger of being dented, in the last 5 minutes, after driving from top to bottom of France. Finally, we found the correct car park to return the car and unloaded our backpacks from the boot, for the trek to the 4am bus that would take us to Florence in Italy.

Our speedometer was just shy of 4,000 kilometers!  
   
Footnote: Arles, Roman and Romanesque Monuments, Papel Palace of Avignon, Pont du Gard (Roman Aqueduct) and Roman Theatre and its Surroundings and the ¨Triumphal Arch¨ of Orange are all UNESCO World Heritage listed.

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