On July 17, thanks to Jaime and Stéphane, I will be spending 10 wonderful days in Provence! The first 4 days will be with the Sautin’s, Sara and Jean-François, in Revel, a small village southeast of Toulouse. I visited them last summer and had a wonderful time. We had lunch the other day, and had a great conversation about what we will do and see once I am there. They are the most gracious and indefatigable hosts! Some things we talked about – visiting wineries, swimming in the Med, visiting nearby villages (last year we went to Lautrec – it was amazing!).
On Day 4, Sunday, I will begin my trek through Provence in earnest. Itinerary:
Saint-Remy-de-Provence – 2 nights
Aix-en-Provence – 2 nights
Avignon – 3 nights
On the way to my first stop, Saint-Remy de Provence, I am planning to cross the world’s highest bridge – across the Millau Gorge – here are a couple of pictures:
Here’s a little info about it:
Located in Southern France, the Millau Viaduct is the tallest bridge in the world. Constructed in three short years, the bridge is
an engineering and architectural marvel. At its highest point, the bridge soars 343 meters (1,125 ft) above ground, that’s 19 meters (62 ft) taller than the Eiffel Tower!
Then follow the route to Saint Remy via Castre, Albi (home of the Albigensian Heresy), Sévérac Le Chateau, Le Vigan, and Nimes.
Random notes along the highway:
The church of Saint Benoît, once the cathedral of Castres, and the most important of the churches of Castres today, dates only from the 17th and 18th centuries. The city hall occupies the former bishop’s palace, designed in the
17th century by Jules Hardouin-Mansart (the architect of Versailles), and with gardens designed by André Le Nôtre (the designer of the gardens in Versailles). The Romanesque tower beside it (Tour Saint Benoît) is the only survival of the old Benedictine abbey. The town possesses some old mansions from the 16th and 17th century, including the Hôtel de Nayrac, of the Renaissance.
Castres possesses the renowned Goya Museum, created in 1840, which contains the largest collection of Spanish paintings in France. A Jaurès Museum was also opened in 1954 in the house where Jean Jaurès was born in 1859.
Sévérac Le Chateau:
Pretty cool, huh? The castle belonged to several families: Sévérac (the last direct descendant was Amaury de Sévérac , Marshal of France and condottiere in Italy) , the Armagnac , then Arpajon (the last descendant is Arpajon Louis , Marquis and Duke of Sévérac Arpajon). It is the latter who turned the castle into a fortress-style palace by an Italian architect, who also designed the Renaissance palace of Prague. Discover walls, curtain walls, watchtowers, chapel and kitchen inside the castle.Visible from all points of the horizon, the castle of the xiii th century and xvii th century centuries dominates the plain where the Aveyron rises. At the foot of the castle, the medieval city offers a panorama of the region.The streets around the castle are lined with old shops of xv th century and xvi th century , houses overhanging, porches and stairs.
Several important remains of the Roman Empire can still be seen in and around Nîmes:
- The elliptical Roman amphitheatre, of the 1st or 2nd century AD, is the best-preserved Roman arena in France.
- The Maison Carrée (Square House), a small Roman temple dedicated to sons of Agrippa was built c. 19 BC.
- The 18th-century Jardins de la Fontaine (Gardens of the Fountain) built around the roman thermae ruins.
- The nearby Pont du Gard, also built by Agrippa, is a well-preserved aqueduct that used to carry water across the small Gardon river valley.
- The nearby Mont Cavalier is crowned by the Tour Magne (“Great Tower”), a ruined Roman tower.
- The cathedral (dedicated to Saint Castor of Apt, a native of the city), occupying, it is believed, the site of the temple of Augustus, is partly Romanesque and partly Gothic in style.
More to come.