Tour Magne, Maison Carrée, and l’Arêne in NîmesNîmes is a small Roman town just to the North and West of Marseille. Often overlooked for the larger towns of Aix-en-Provence and Arles, Nîmes offers a beautiful historical town centre as well as three spectacular Roman sites: the Tour Magne, the Maison Carrée, and l’Arêne.
The Tour Magne is a grand Roman watchtower, now partially ruined, that overlooks the city from its perch on the hill. Once part of the great Roman wall that surrounded the city, it offers breathtaking bird’s-eye views of the city. The Maison Carrée is one of the best preserved Roman temples in the world.
L’Arêne de Nîmes is a stunning ancient arena, arguably the best maintained Roman arena in the world, where you can still catch events throughout the year. With its beautiful old town and some of the oldest public parks in France, this town is certainly worth a visit.
Pont du Gard, Roman aqueductAt nearly 2,000 years old, the Roman aqueduct of the Pont du Gard is a marvel of engineering and beautiful construction.
Built to bring water to the nearby town of Nîmes, this stunning structure stands 275m long and nearly 50m high. It is the highest Roman aqueduct in the world, contains the largest arch in the Roman world and is by far one of the best preserved.
Today, the Pont du Gard is a UNESCO World Heritage Site, and features a new museum that opened in 2000. The area makes for beautiful hiking and bike tours around the canyon and the river is perfect for kayaking trips or a swim to cool off.
Palais des Papes and le Pont d’AvignonThe Palais des Papes in the city of Avignon is one of the most striking chateaux in the world. Once the Papal residence during the 14th century, it made Avignon the center of Western Christianity for over a hundred years.
Consisting of an old Palais (the original fortress) and the new Palais built by Pope Clement VI, this palace is the largest Gothic structure of the medieval ages and the tours through its labyrinthine rooms are spectacular.
Once spanning the Rhône River, the Pont d’Avignon remains only in part, most of it being destroyed in a flood in the 17th century. Most of the bridge‘s fame comes from the song, ‘Sur le Pont d’Avignon.’
From its point, a look back at the town offers picturesque views of Avignon’s old town and fortifications, as well as the Palais and the gardens that crown the hill.
The trip also takes you past some other stunning sites, like the royal castles of Beaucaire and Tarascon, which are well worth a stop.
Vineyards of CassisEven if you don’t like wine, the small coastal town of Cassis is well worth spending a day. The beaches are perfect for soaking up the Mediterranean sun and sea, and the town and port are a perfect size to explore. Nearby hikes provide spectacular seaside scenery. But if you fancy yourself a wine connoisseur, this one really cannot be missed.
One of the oldest vineyards and earliest controlled designations of origin (French AOC) along with the famous Chateauneuf-du-Pape, Cassis is home to twelve separate vineyards, latticed up the hills. Sheltered behind the 400m cliff of Cape Canaille, 210 hectares of vines produce some of the best wines in France.
With its reputation based on white wines, known for their dry, fruit flavours, Cassis also produces sensational reds and rosés. Tourists are welcome year round, and restaurants in town are only too happy to let you try a tantalizing taste of Provence.