The sunny morning after our adventure avoiding the Yellow Vests blockades on the route to Arles, we had planned to go to the Sunday farmers/antique market in the Provence hill town of L’Isle sur la Sorgue. Soon after leaving our hotel, however, we encountered Yellow Vest protesters who returned to continue blockading highways. We chose to reverse course and return to Saint-Rèmy to visit some local sights.
Instead of cramming descriptions of everything we did that day into one blog post, this day is covered in three entries. This first is about touring the ruins of the Roman-era fortified town of Glanum, the second is about visiting the St. Paul de Mausole monastery hospital/asylum where the Dutch painter Vincent Van Gogh painted so many of his works while being treated for mental illness, and the third will be from the Picasso light show at Carrières de Lumières in nearby Les Baux.
Glanum is located in a narrow valley just south of Saint-Rèmy, well within walking distance of the village center. Its origins trace back centuries before the Romans colonized southern France. After the fall of the Roman empire and the town’s destruction, it became a source of building material and was eventually buried in mud and sediment, except for the Julii mausoleum and Triumphal Arch pictured below at the end of this posting. The town site was excavated in the early 20th century and now has a modern visitors facility.
It’s such a wonderful surprise to see the details that survive the millennia:
The “Sacred Spring” provided an essential reliable source of water to Glanum. The Romans later built a dam and aqueduct to bring even more water to the town.
More views of Glanum:
After climbing up a trail above Glanum, the entire town is visible, from the street of the lower town and the Forum on the left, to the temples in the center, and the Sacred Spring on the right. (Click on the picture to expand.)
Also visible from the trail is Saint-Rèmy with the prominent spire of its church. In the distance, the town of Avignon can also be seen:
Just north of the town of Glanum toward Saint-Rèmy, two well-preserved monuments survive. While Glanum might have been buried, these two structures have attracted visitors for centuries.
The first is the Julii Mausoleum, built in 40 BCE:
And next to the mausoleum is the Triumphal Arch of Glanum, built around 14 AD:
After our visit to Glanum, we literally only had to walk across the street for the next attraction – the Saint Paul de Mausole monastery, which will be the topic of our next travel blog post.