When I think of Provence, I envision fields of lavender, cute cobbled-stoned villages and plenty of small homes with brightly painted shutters. Not Roman ruins. But that's all we saw. All because Mr. Wild Dingo is whack-a-doo about Roman history. Even Juno is quite aware of his fascination for all things Roman. I'm beginning to think he only married me for my Roman ancestry. Still, some of the ruins were quite impressive.
Our first stop was the Pont du Gard, the still working Roman Aqueduct designed to transport water from Uzes to Nimes. No picture I took could convey the awesomeness of this site. It was huge! One thing we noticed was that the Romans had style. Not only was the golden color of the bridge complementing the countryside, but much of it was built with artistic reveals and creative design. While function ruled, form was never overlooked in almost anything Roman. The bridge was as beautiful as it was functional.
Out of all the ruins we saw that weekend, this was my favorite. Probably because the government paid extra attention in aesthetically presenting this historical site in the way it deserves. Every other ruin we visited couldn't hold a candle to how this one is maintained. Visitors enter a beautiful atrium with a well-curated museum that explains the history of many Roman aqueducts. The museum was as beautifully designed as the aqueduct itself. Beaches and 600-meter high panoramic hiking trails surround the aqueduct and anyone can visit by foot or bike.
Next we went to the oh-so-exciting city of Orange. There's not much to see in Orange except for the Roman Theater (pictured above) and yet another Arc de Triomphe that Mr. Wild Dingo just had to see. Just how many freaking Arc de Triomphes MUST we see? The Roman Theater was built during Agustus' rein and is only Roman theater which has conserved almost its entire stage wall, 338 feet long and 118 feet high.
Today the theater is still used for concerts, plays and musicals regularly, holding up to 9000 spectators. Orange regularly features jazz festivals in the summer. The sad thing about all the amphitheaters is how they are maintained and presented. In order to utilize the space, most cities will build ugly bleachers to replace missing stadium seats. What baffels me more are the millions of cars that pass by only a few meters away from these 2000 year old structures in France as well as Italy.
Arles was a bit of a let down. Sure, it was down pouring on us (as you can see the pelts of rain in the shot above), but the city itself was not what I anticipated. I went looking for what inspired Van Gogh and instead we ended up at yet another Roman Amphitheater (above). (Note to self: do not let Mr. Wild Dingo read any more Michelin guides.) As it down poured on us, it looked like the best option for seeing something and staying dry. Today, the Amphitheater regularly hosts bullfighting (which they claim is not to the death or harm of the bull) and other cultural events.
As we entered the theater, a group of 47 giggling, screaming teenagers came in and they NEVER SHUT UP. Sounds of ridiculous squealing girls and rough-housing boys echoed the halls. Like cockroaches scattering out of every crevice of the theater, we could not escape them. Teenagers today. There's no respect. Where's an obnoxious Formosan German Shepherd when you need one? Had this been Switzerland, they would have been hushed or shown the door. Or possibly thrown off the third story window of the Amphitheater.
So we quickly strolled the theater and split for it's neighboring site: another Roman Theatre (but not an Amphitheater). Quelle suprise! Didn't the Romans have enough drama in all that conquering and fighting? You'd think after a hard day at the office they'd want to relax with glass of wine and maybe some shut eye. Nope. They pretty much conquered, built theaters and partied. Not much remained of this site except two columns and pieces of its past (above) scattered about as if they were items for sale at a flea market.
On our last day in St. Remy, when leaving the city we accidentally ran into Glanum, a lost city developed under Hellenistic influence. I opted out of this one for a nap in the car while Mr. Wild Dingo explored and took the shot above for me. Yes you read that right. I fell asleep in the car while it was raining and I don't have a single regret. You see 37 Roman ruins in the course of 3 days, you've seen them all. My nap was heavenly.
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