Exactly a year ago, we were in the middle of an 11-day road trip around the South of France. It was an absolutely massive undertaking to plan, inspired by cheap flights from Madrid to Toulouse and Lonely Planet's France's Best Trips book. I pieced together many of the different road trip itineraries in the book and added in some additional stops based on blogs and sites I'd read online. The final plan was very ambitious and had us covering quite a bit of southern France, but the end result was...fabulous (if I do say so myself). Now, when I think about going anywhere in Europe on vacation, a few places come to mind, and the South of France is without a doubt at the top of that list.
With just 24 hours left in France to go, we checked out the three-tiered aqueduct and UNESCO World Heritage site since 1985, the Pont du Gard. The mighty bridge and aqueduct was built by the Romans in 19BC to carry water 50km from Uzés to Nîmes (we only saw a small portion of that, obviously), and it did so until the 6th century. In the Middle Ages it became a tollgate, and later on a road was added along a lower tier so that it could act as a road bridge as well. Now it welcomes more visitors than any other ancient monument in France, and many consider it the most impressive aqueduct in the world as it stands 50m high and 275m stretches long.
Did you know that for a while during the 14th century, the Catholic church picked up everything and relocated its seat of power from Rome to Avignon? It was all because of politics (some things never change!), and for 70-something years the popes took up residence in France instead of Italy. Obviously, it was a pretty short-lived stint in the history of the church, but it left behind the grand Palais des Papes as well as a pretty impressive claim to fame for Avignon.
My memories of Arles are probably different from those of most people. It was Easter morning when we visited, but instead of the streets being deserted, they were packed due to the town's Easter Feria, and the weather was blustery, like unusually so, and I just couldn't seem to get my hair under control or out of my face the whole time (I think I forgot or misplaced my hair tie which is why I don't appear in any photos).
I started this list well over a year ago, in fact, probably closer to a year and a half ago, but I didn't feel qualified to do anything with it except keep it tucked away, add to it here and there, and if needed, take away from it if the time ever came. Well, I thought about it again recently and scrolled through it on my phone, looking with fresh eyes at all the things my newly-arrived-in-Spain-self thought was worth placing on this list. Nothing was ever taken off the list, and only one or two things were added over the past year.