Provence evokes a feeling of light and sunshine. Its people are warm and its food exquisite. Often associated with artists like Van Gogh and the rest of the Impressionists who would spend months here on end painting the beautiful countryside, Provence’s landscapes has provided inspiration for many. You can feel that the world has melted away and you are in your own niche in the universe. Here’s how to spend your days in Provence.
o First Day
Orange is the first place you should visit. It boasts of a spectacular Roman theatre which was built during the reign of Caeser Augustus. The Theatre Antique has a huge stone stage that is perfect for sound amplification. Thousands of people flock in here to witness great plays brought to life by local actors. There is also an aqueduct that is a remnant of its Roman origins.
o Second Day
Be sure to drop in at the Palais des Papes (Papal Palace), a colossal stronghold of the Avignon popes. There are still some furnishings left but most have been returned to the Papal seat in Rome. Take a tour around the town and see the 12th century Romanesque Cathedrale Notre-Dame-des-Doms, Avignon’s social center Place de l’Hortage and the antiquities in the Musee Calvet.
o Third Day
Start early in the morning to visit the town of Nimes. You can view the magnificent Pont du Gard which was once a mighty aqueduct erected 2, 000 years ago. Antiquities are perfectly preserved in Nimes such as the Arenes and Maison Carree. The former is a Roman amphitheater dating back to the Roman times. The latter is built around 5 BC and dedicated to Gaius Cesar. It stands in the middle of the downtown district and is arresting in design since it was modeled after the Temple of Apollo.
o Fourth Day
Take the detour at Camargue and visit the place most associated with Van Gogh. It is one of the most beautiful cities in Provence. It was once a Greek colony which was taken over by the Romans when Julius Caesar defeated Marseille. Check the Musee del l’Arles Antique (Museum of Ancient Arles) and the Museum Arlaten which houses perfect examples of antiquities. There are ancient towers, underground galleries and picturesque ruins all under the wonderful Provencal sun.
o Fifth Day
On your last day, take it slow. Head over to St-Remy-de-Provence. Still walking in the footsteps of Van Gogh, you can check out the wonderful marketplace in the area. As a Greek settlement, the Romans also took over the area. You can view magnificent ruins in the Les Antiques and Roman arches and a mausoleum in the Mausolee. The sprawling landscape of Provence will truly leave your feeling breathless and happy.
Five days in Provence is enough to have you going back refreshed and invigorated. The best time to visit is during spring and fall. The countryside is perfect and the vineyards are ready for harvest. Winter can be harsh and the summer heat is oppressive so it’s best to see the countryside when the leaves are either in full bloom or when the leaves are turning.