Viking River Cruise
Today’s post is a departure from my regular geography as they are from the cities of Avignon and Arles in the south of France. Of course, this was a trip that we took well before our current lock down. I am more thankful for the opportunity now! Prior to leaving for the trip, I was not familiar with the history and geography of this part of France.
Avignon and Arles
Our flight arrived in Marseilles from which we boarded a van that took us to the ship. We boarded the Viking Heimdal in the medieval city of Avignon. This ancient city has many characteristics that come to mind when you think of the Middle Ages. The old city is fortified by a tall stone wall surrounding the interior. From behind the wall you can see towers rising from palaces and churches. In fact, this was the home city to popes that ruled the Catholic Church from here for a time. The landmark closest to the ship was a bridge over the Rhone that no longer spans the river.
The next day, we cruised south to Tarascon. This was the closest that the ship could dock for a tour of to the city of Arles. Although this was a setting for part of the movie, ‘Ronin’ I was not familiar with this amazing city. This is an ancient Roman city complete with an amphitheater like the coliseum in Rome. It changed from an arena, to a fortress protecting the citizens from marauders, back to a bull fighting ring today. It was mind-bending to think that it was built as a gift from the Julius Caesar, the senator before he was emperor, for their support during a conflict.
Arles is also known as a place where Vincent Van Gogh resided and was hospitalized late in life. There are restaurants, and the hospital where you can tour and learn more about the artist and his work create there.
After the tour of Arles, the ship brought us back north to Avignon. On arrival, we were afforded a river view of Avignon in the evening – just stunning! It was an impressive ancient city that leaves an impression.
Since the ship docks close to the city center, I set an early alarm to get up to get some morning photos. I did not venture from the ship and took these from the roof deck. The fog and color from the sunrise set a moody feel to the photo. Cropping out the modern parking lot in front evokes a view of Avignon in ancient times.
Lastly as we left the Avignon area, we took a side excursion to the Pont Du Gard. As can be seen, this is an ancient structure built by Romans to bring water to the city of Nimes. It is the tallest aqueduct bridge from Roman times, and one of the best preserved. It was breathtaking to try to comprehend the feat to create such a structure so long ago. Not to mention, the slight elevation change along the entire route to Nimes that successfully brought water across 31 miles! As can be seen, this area for France is full of photogenic places and I feel incredibly lucky to have had the chance to see Avignon and Arles. Stay tuned to the blog for our next stops!
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