My favourite cities in the South of France, in Languedoc-Roussillon region.
There are so many beautiful and worth visiting towns in the South of France, in Languedoc-Roussillon region. Obviously you cannot visit all as firstly, there are too many, secondly you will spoil the experience of your holidays. So, you need to choose. I have picked up few cities and visited them properly. The biggest one and very spectacular one was Montpellier, the one I stayed in & liked very much was Aigues – Mortes, then I visited my seaside resorts (but I don’t count them as a city experience) and here comes the very good and interesting and medium sized ones: Arles & Nimes & Avignon. And these are the ones I want to tell you a bit more about.
Arles – the city of Van Gogh & Roman heritage
The city of Van Gogh as he came here (left Paris for Provence in 1888), lived here and painted some of his most famous masterpieces. Not to mention that Paul Gauguin was around as well. Did you know that Van Gogh’s famous “ear cutting” act and his decline into mental illness has been done up here?
The city of Roman heritage because the town dates back to the 7th century BC, and was a major Gallo-Roman town. It has an Amphitheatre, Forum and Theatre; beautiful 17th Century mansions, mazy streets, modern Museums and wide rolling river.
It is a cosy and charming old feel town, really charming and beautiful. It is a UNESCO World Heritage Site. For more information you can always visit ArlesTourism Office and get your city map on here so you will know where to go to discover the city of Arles.
Nimes – the city of an impressive arena, outstanding Maison Carree, my beloved garden and bullfighting! (I know not nice isnt?)
The Roman Arena of Nîmes is very important as it is the best preserved of the Roman amphitheaters in Roman Provence. Built in the 1st Century, the amphitheatre is 133m long, 101m wide and 21m high. It still holds 21,000 spectators for bull fights, dance festivals and rock concerts. You can discover its architecture here. It does look impressive, doesn’t it?
The Maison Carrée is an outstanding monument in the centre of Nîmes. It was built in 16 BC and it is of the best preserved temples anywhere in Rome’s former empire of Roman Provence,
Tour Magne (in my beloved garden) is a Roman tower on the hilltop northwest of the centre of Nîmes. I loved this place as it’s located on the hill and it is an ideal place for a picnic, nap and offers an amazing view of Nimes.
There is a passion for bullfighting in Nîmes and opinions on bullfights and matadors are expressed in bullfighting clubs and cafés. Bullfights were held in Nîmes in 1811 to mark the birth of the King of Rome and in 1863 the first bullfight was held in the Roman amphitheatre. The enthusiasm for bulls in Nîmes also has roots in Camargue traditions: Camargue bullfights (courses), encierros and abrivados are all festivals organized nowadays. You can book your ticket for bullfighting event at the Nimes Arena website I will give it a miss actually as it is not my cup of tea (as i would say it in England..) but maybe you are interested…
Avignon –the city of the Le Palais des Papes & the bridge which is not whole
The Pope’s City because it has the Le Palais des Papes and my big WOW for this. Le Palais des Papes is the biggest Gothic palace in Europe. Once home of the Sovereign Pontiffs, this Palace with its ceremonial rooms, chapels and private papal apartments, became a symbol of the power of the Christian world in the 14th Century.
And the bridge of Avignon! The Saint-Benezet bridge is one of the most famous monuments in the world (partly thanks to the very popular song…) that gets around 400.000 visitors per year. It was built from the 12th century, and was several times destroyed, before being rebuilt and finally abandoned in the 17th Century. Do you want to learn a Legend of the Avignon Bridge? It is here
I know what is good, don’t I? Avignon is also a UNESCO World Heritage Site and it is one of my favourite places in the South of France. It is really charming, has amazing Popes Palace, half of the bridge (I am not that impressed here as they charge you to get on the bridge but actually you cannot cross the river ;-). But I would need to admit, it looks stunning.
So I could write and write about those places as I really liked them and was very impressed with the architecture and the atmosphere they represent. For now, I will highly recommend visiting them and in the meantime I will share with you my experience with Monpellier. I think this big city deserves its own article coming soon. So keep an eye on my blog and enjoy! If you have questions & feedback & comments, just give me a shout!