Marcus Travel Journal
Les Angles is located about 15 minutes from Avignon. I never found the "old town", there were plenty of large retail outlets. We had a very scenic and secluded place to stay and it was easy to travel to various locations in the Occitanie Region.
La Falaise, Les Angles, Occitanie - our house located in the woods in one of the ancient quarries. The house and beautiful swimming pool are nicely isolated from the town.
La Falaise, Lesangles - the pool was spectacular complete with a small waterfall on the side. This was the place to be in the afternoon during the high temperatures | photo: mytravellinglens.com
Pont du Gard
My first outing was to see the impressive Roman acqueduct bridge, Pont Du Gard. Our first visit to the Pont dy Guard was over 30 years ago. Things will different then, I remember walking on the very top of the bridge. Now access is limited to the bridge deck at road level. Still it is impressive and the river area is all one big park you can enjoy. Swimming in the river is very popular. Parking is steep (9E), with no charge to see the bridge, but an additional fee to visit the museum if you want that option.
The Pont du Gard dates back to 1st Century AD and carried water to the Roman colony of Nemausus (now Nîmes) a distance of over 50 km (31 mi). The majority of the old acquaduct was either at or below the suface with this section being the impressive bridge to cross the Gardon River. It is located near the town of Vers-Pont-du-Gard. The Pont du Gard is the tallest of all Roman aqueduct bridges, as well as one of the best preserved.
The bridge has three tiers of arches made from Shelly limestone. It and the entire water route was built with extreme precision with an average grade of 1 cm (0.39 in) per 182.4 m (598 ft). It may have been in use as late as the 6th century, with some parts used for significantly longer, but a lack of maintenance after the 4th century led to clogging by mineral deposits and debris that eventually stopped the flow of water.
Pont du Gard - when you walk from the car park, down the path through the park, your glimpse of the bridge through the trees is a sight that remains with you. | photo: mytravellinglens.com
Castillon du Gard
This medieval town is located six kilometres from the Pont du Gard, and overlooks an end of the gorges of the Gardon. It is a beautiful medieval village to explore with the houses having been restored providing endless photo locations. There a stunning view from the town to the Pont du Gard, in the distance, as it crosses the river valley.
Castillon-du-Gard - Castillon-du-Gard - watching this stone cutter worked, no eletric tools when t his town was originally built!
We have been to Uzès a couple of times, despite a rough start. On our first visit our car broken into during the hight and the luggage we foolishly left in the car taken. For me, that meant all my already used film (yes I am that old, and I am referring to film cameras). We returned years later when we were in the area with a group. When we arrived on this visit we had a perception of a much smaller town, and it took a while to adjust. But as we enjoyed a good lunch in an outdoor restaurant in the Place des Herbes it was easy to feel relaxed in his old historic town. There are broad streets, pleasant squares all with warm dabbled sunlight through the Plane Trees. Afternoons in Uzès are oh so pleasant.
Villeneuve les Avignon
About 10 minutes from our house is the town of Villeneuve-lès-Avignon. It is located across the river from Avignon. I found this town packed with sights and in fact more enjoyable than Avignon. La Chartreuse du Val de Bénédiction is located in this town and is worth a visit in itself.
The town started with an abbey being built in the 6th Century, and then a castle/fort (Fort Saint-André). A town grew and it benefited from being just across the river from Avignon. In the 14th Century the town became the "resort" of the French cardinals who had their palaces built here, across the river from the Papal Palace.
One cardinal, who became Pope Innocent VI, built his palace and a church in Villeneuve, establishing La Chartreuse de Villeneuve. This became one of the largest charterhouses in France - by the 17th Century having 100 members: 40 fathers, 30 lay brothers and just as many workers and domestics. Besides the monks cells, the halls, cloisters and chapels, the Chartreuse adorned itself in gold and marble, sculptures and paintings.
A tragic end to La Chartreuse. A law from the French Revolution ended monasteries. The buildings and land were sold in lots. In the end, to sell it all La Chartreuse was divided and sold to over 100 different people. The buildings were used for agricultural purposes. At one time the marble mausoleum of Pope Innocent VI was a rabbit cage. Thankfully a project was put in place, all assets regathered and today you can spend hours visiting the site.
Winding alley ways from the town centre up the hill to Fort Saint-André, Villeneuve-lès-Avignon
The Valfreniere Gate is the entrance into La Chartreuse, in Villeneuve-lès-Avignon | photo: mytravellinglens.com
The church at La Chartreuse is spellbinding, its apse collapsed in the 19th century and was never rebuilt. Now open to the sky and the Saint André Fort, standing in the church has a unique feeling. Pope Innocent VI had the church built for the community’s liturgical celebrations. First called Saint John the Baptist then Saint Mary, the design of the reflects the sSimplicity and austerity of the Carthusian order. It is thought that while the church was being used for agricultural use, farmers strung ropes from the delicate arches of the ceiling. | photo: mytravellinglens.com
The Small Cloisters of La Chartreuse, were a place for walking amidst greenery. For the Carthusian monks, it symbolized celestial Jerusalem. Though the cloister was somewhat ornate, the style remained sober and characteristic of the taste in Avignon at the time of the Avignon papacy. | photo: mytravellinglens.com
» more photos at Recent Travels - Villeneuve Les Avignon
Called the most Roman city outside Italy, Nîmes has a rich history dating back to the Roman Empire. We have been to this town a number of times. Once for emergent dental work (root canal)! We returned for a more pleasurable experience this time, in particular to see the Roman Amphitheatre, the Temple of Diana and the Roman Temple, the Maison Carrée -- and of course to have a good lunch.
Nîmes needed a supply of water supply, and in 19 BC, the Romans built an aqueduct to supply the water. The impressive Pont du Gard was part of the water supply system crossing the Gardon River it is one of the most remarkable surviving Roman ruins anywhere.
During the mid 18th Century there was a period of growth and during that time significant work was undertaken at the direction of the King of France. Importantly, encrochments that took place betweeen the end of the Roman Empire and during the Medieval Period, were removed from the Roman monuments. The Fountain Gardens and the Quais de la Fontaine, were designed and built by the King's military engineer (Jacques-Philippe Mareschal) and architect Pierre Dardailhon. They did a great job! The gardens include a Roman site, abandoned, and discovered during work taken to regulate the flow of the spring - the Source.
The elliptical Roman amphitheatre, 1st or 2nd AD, is the best-preserved Roman arena in France. After the collapse of the Roman Empire, in the Medieval Ages, the amphitheatre was filled with housing. Its walls served as ramparts to protect the city. But, under the direction of Napoleon, the houses were cleared. Today the amphitheatre is will used, twice a year for bull fighting and a summer concert season.
The Maison Carrée (Square House), is a small Roman temple dedicated to sons of Agrippa. It was built c. 19 BC. This is one of the best-preserved Roman temples. Best preserved perhaos as it has been in constant use: a temple, a church, a city hall, a people's art gallery (post French Revolution) and finally a monument admired today. A similar situation to the Pantheon in Rome.
The 18th-century Jardins de la Fontaine (Gardens of the Fountain) built around the Roman thermae ruins.
The Temple of Diana, 1st-Century, was built in the time of Augustus. It has a basilica-like floor plan, rather than a plan found in most temples, and there is no archaeological or literary evidence referencing dedication to Diana. It is though the building may have been a library.
the Jardins de la Fontaine stretch out over 15 hectares and are divided into two parts: a classical garden created in the 1800s and a landscaped Mediterranean garden created in the 1900s.
Monastery Saint Paul de Mausole
The Monastery Named for the mausoleum of the Julii, built by the Romans, and located just across the road. The monastery was built in the 11th Century. It is a place to visist because of its architectural style, but also, because of its history, which includes artist Vincent Van Gogh. The monastery was converted to a lunatic asylum, and in 1889-90 Vincent van Gogh stayed here. While having a peak into the room he stayed in has some interest, it is the cloisters and the beauty of the gardens, which include a lavender field, that make an enchanting experience.