Provence: Legendary Light, Wind, and Wine

Provence: Legendary Light, Wind, and Wine


HI I’M RICK STEVES BACK WITH MORE OF THE BEST OF EUROPE. THIS TIME, WE’RE
IN THE SOUTH OF FRANCE, MIXING ROMAN RUINS,
FINE WINE, A LITTLE VAN GOGH,
AND EVEN A FRENCH BULLFIGHT. GET READY FOR
NOT A YEAR, BUT AN EXHILARATING HALF HOUR
IN PROVENCE. DEEP IN THE SOUTH OF FRANCE, PROVENCE OFFERS A RICH PALATE
OF TRAVEL EXPERIENCES — SCENIC, HISTORIC AND CULTURAL. IT’S THE IDEAL REGION
TO IMMERSE YOURSELF IN THE GOOD LIFE OF FRANCE. AND YOU MAY JUST COME UP
A FRANCO-PHILE. WE’LL MARVEL
AT AN ANCIENT AQUEDUCT, SAVOR COTES du RHONE WINE
IN ITS BIRTHPLACE, EXPERIENCE THE QUINTESSENTIAL
PROVENCAL MARKET, PLAY A LITTLE boules, FOLLOW IN THE FOOTSTEPS
OF van GOGH AND DODGE BULLS
IN A 2000-YEAR-OLD ARENA. FRANCE IS NEARLY
AS BIG AS TEXAS. THE REGION OF PROVENCE STRETCHES FROM
THE MEDITERRANEAN COAST UP THE RHONE RIVER VALLEY. WE’LL CROSS THE PONT du GARD, SIP OUR WAY THROUGH
THE COTES du RHONE WINE REGION AND EXPLORE THE CITY OF NIMES,
ARLES, AVIGNON AND AIX-EN-PROVENCE. WHILE ITS CITIES ARE PACKED
WITH IMPORTANT SIGHTS, PROVENCAL LIFE FEELS ROOTED
IN ITS COUNTRYSIDE, SMALL TOWNS AND VIBRANT MARKETS. ITS FAMOUS FIELDS OF LAVENDER
AND SUNFLOWERS INSPIRE PAINTERS. ITS HOWLING MISTRAL WIND CAN,
AS THEY SAY, BLOW THE EARS OFF A DONKEY, AND ITS COVETED
COTES du RHONE WINES SHOWCASE THIS REGION’S CONFIDENT
MASTERY OF GOOD LIVING. AND AROUND HERE, GOOD LIVING
IS NEVER FAR FROM NATURE. WHERE ELSE CAN YOU CANOE
THROUGH SUCH CHARMING SCENERY AND THEN UNDER A NEARLY
2,000-YEAR-OLD AQUEDUCT? THIS REGION’S
EVOCATIVE ROMAN RUINS MAKE HISTORY PART
OF THE PICNIC. THE PONT du GARD REMINDS US THAT THROUGHOUT
THE ANCIENT WORLD, AQUEDUCTS WERE STONE FLAGS HERALDING THE GREATNESS
OF ROME. THEY STILL PROCLAIM THE WONDERS
OF THAT AGE. THIS PERFECTLY PRESERVED ROMAN
BRIDGE SUPPORTED A CANAL, OR AQUEDUCT, ON THE VERY TOP. IT WAS A CRITICAL LINK, HELPING
KEEP A STEADY RIVER OF WATER FLOWING CROSS-COUNTRY TO NIMES, ONE OF THE ROMAN EMPIRE’S
LARGEST CITIES. REMARKABLY, THE WATER DROPPED
ONLY ONE INCH FOR EVERY 350 FEET. LET’S GO INSIDE. THIS IS WHAT ROMAN AQUEDUCTS
WERE ALL ABOUT. THIS IS PART
OF A 30-MILE-LONG CHANNEL. A MAN-MADE RIVER FLOWED
THROUGH THIS FOR 400 YEARS. YOU CAN STILL SEE
THE ORIGINAL STONES, A THIN LAYER OF MORTAR THAT
WATERPROOFED THE CHANNEL AND, AFTER CENTURIES OF USE,
A THICK MINERAL BUILDUP. THE PONT du GARD’S MAIN ARCH IS THE LARGEST THE ROMANS
EVER BUILT: 80 FEET ACROSS. THE BRIDGE ITSELF
HAS NO MORTAR, JUST INGENIOUSLY
STACKED STONES. TAKING FULL ADVANTAGE OF THE
ROUND ARCH THE ROMANS INVENTED, IT’S MADE STRONG BY GRAVITY. THE PONT du GARD MUSEUM SHOWS
THAT A STEADY SUPPLY OF WATER WAS AN ESSENTIAL PART
OF THE ROMAN ART OF LIVING. YOU’LL SEE SOME
VERY OLD PLUMBING, WALK THROUGH A ROCK QUARRY AND LEARN HOW THEY MOVED
THOSE HUGE BLOCKS INTO PLACE AND CONSTRUCTED
THOSE MASSIVE ARCHES. ALL THIS WORK WAS DESIGNED TO BRING WATER INTO THE STILL
GRAND ROMAN CITY OF NIMES. THE WATER FINALLY
GUSHED OUT HERE, INTO THIS MODEST-LOOKING
DISTRIBUTION TANK, FROM WHERE IT SERVED
THE THIRSTY CITY’S NEEDS. IMAGINE THE JUBILATION
ON THAT DAY IN A.D. 50 WHEN SUDDENLY THE SYSTEM
WAS OPERATIONAL. THIS IS THE VERY END
OF THE AQUEDUCT, AND WATER WOULD TUMBLE OUT
OF THIS HOLE AND FILL THIS POOL. NOW, THE SYSTEM WAS DESIGNED
TO PRIORITIZE ACCORDING TO HOW MUCH WATER
WAS AVAILABLE. IF THE WATER LEVEL WAS HIGH, THESE HOLES WOULD SEND WATER
TO THE HOMES OF THE WEALTHY, TO DECORATIVE FOUNTAINS
AND TO PUBLIC BATHS. BUT IF THE WATER LEVEL
WAS VERY LOW, WELL, THESE HOLES WOULD
STILL SEND WATER TO THE ESSENTIAL
NEIGHBORHOOD WELLS. TODAY THE TOWN’S
MANY ROMAN RUINS TESTIFY TO NIMES’
FORMER IMPORTANCE. THE MAISON CARREE RIVALS ROME’S PANTHEON
AS THE MOST COMPLETE BUILDING SURVIVING
FROM THE ROMAN EMPIRE. THE TEMPLE SURVIVED IN PART BECAUSE IT’S BEEN
IN CONSTANT USE FOR THE LAST THOUSAND YEARS. THE LETTERING
ACROSS THE FRONT IS LONG GONE. BUT THE REMAINING NAIL HOLES
PRESENTED ARCHEOLOGISTS WITH A FUN CHALLENGE: MATCH THE PATTERN
OF THE NAIL HOLES TO THE LETTER IT ONCE HELD. AND THEY SOLVED THE PUZZLE. THEY DETERMINED
THAT THE TEMPLE WAS BUILT TO HONOR CAIUS AND LUCIUS, THE GRANDSONS
OF EMPEROR AUGUSTUS. AND FROM THAT INFORMATION, THEY DATED THE TEMPLE
TO THE YEAR 4 A.D. NIMES’ ARENA,
WHICH IS STILL IN USE, IS CONSIDERED THE BEST
PRESERVED FROM ANCIENT ROME. IT’S ANOTHER FINE EXAMPLE
OF ROMAN ENGINEERING AND ROMAN PROPAGANDA. IN THE SPIRIT OF GIVE
THE MASSES BREAD AND CIRCUSES, ADMISSION WAS FREE. THE EMPEROR’S AGENDA WAS
TO CREATE A POPULOUS THAT WAS THOROUGHLY ROMAN, ENJOYING THE SAME ACTIVITIES
AND THE SAME ENTERTAINMENT, ALL THINKING AS ONE. THE ARENA STILL HOSTS
COLORFUL PAGEANTRY. [ clapping ] AND MACHO MEN STILL FACE
DANGEROUS BEASTS: BULLS. A BULLFIGHT à la Provençale IS MORE SPORTING THAN
THE BLOODY SPANISH BULLFIGHTS. A TINY RIBBON,
LACED BETWEEN THE HORNS, SITS ON THE BULL’S FOREHEAD. THE DAREDEVIL FIGHTERS,
GRIPPING SPECIAL HOOKS, TRY TO SNARE THE RIBBON. [ loudspeaker voice in Spanish ] THE LOUDSPEAKER
ANNOUNCES THE REWARD VARIOUS LOCAL BUSINESSES OFFER
TO THE MAN WHO GETS THE RIBBON. IT’S BOTH ADVERTISING — PIERRES PATISSERIE
OFFERS 100 EUROS — AND ENCOURAGEMENT
FOR THE FIGHTERS. [ loudspeaker,
cries of matadors ] IF THE BULL PULLS A GOOD STUNT,
THE BAND CONGRATULATES HIM WITH A TUNE
FROM THE OPERA CARMEN. UNLIKE MORE BLOODY BULLFIGHTS,
IN PROVENCE, THE BULL, WHO LOCALS STRESS
DIES OF OLD AGE, ALWAYS PRANCES PROUDLY
OUT OF THE ARENA. MANY TRAVELERS VISIT NIMES ONLY
FOR ITS FAMOUS ROMAN SIGHTS AND ARE PLEASANTLY SURPRISED
BY THE REST OF THE TOWN. INVITING PEDESTRIAN STREETS
AND CAFE-FILLED SQUARES GIVE IT A RELAXING CHARM. A FOUNDATION OF NIMES’ AFFLUENCE
WAS DENIM, A FABRIC THAT SEEMS
AS AMERICAN AS APPLE PIE. BUT THE WORD DENIM ACTUALLY
MEANS FROM NIMES, de NIMES. IN THE EARLY 1700s, NIMES HAD A THRIVING
TEXTILE INDUSTRY AND IT NEEDED A RELIABLE SOURCE
OF WATER TO POWER ITS MILLS AND HELP DYE
ITS FAMOUS FABRIC. TO SUPPORT ITS DENIM PRODUCERS, THE CITY BUILT AN EXTENSIVE
SYSTEM OF INDUSTRIAL CANALS, WHICH WAS ORNAMENTED WITH
A LAVISH VERSAILLES-TYPE PARK. THIS HAPPENED JUST 50 YEARS
AFTER THE CONSTRUCTION OF THE KING’S PALACE
AT VERSAILLES, AND TO THE FRENCH, THIS PEOPLE’S PLACE HAS
A SPECIAL SIGNIFICANCE. THESE WERE THE FIRST GRAND
GARDENS DESIGNED NOT FOR ROYALTY
BUT FOR THE PUBLIC. NIMES IS AN HOUR’S DRIVE FROM THE SUNNY COTES du RHONE
REGION. HERE YOU’LL FOLLOW ONE OF
FRANCE’S FAVORITE WINE ROADS, WEAVING THROUGH A RUSTIC
LANDSCAPE CARPETED WITH VINES AND PEPPERED
WITH WARM STONE VILLAGES. THE LOVINGLY TENDED VINES
OF THE COTES du RHONE, GROWN ON THE côtes,
OR HILLSIDES, OF THE RHONE RIVER VALLEY MAKE WINES THAT ARE DELIGHTFUL
ON YOUR PALATE, YET EASY ON YOUR POCKETBOOK. TRAVELING IN MAY, WE SEE THE SELECTION OF
JUST THE BEST SPRING SHOOTS ON THESE GNARLY OLD VINES. THIS REGION WAS FIRST PLANTED
WITH GRAPES BY THE GREEKS AROU 600 BC. ROMANS BUILT UPON WHAT
THE GREEKS STARTED, REALIZING EVEN BACK THEN
THAT HERE IN PROVENCE, THE STONY SOIL, MILD WINTERS
AND LONG, HOT SUMMERS WERE IDEAL
FOR PRODUCING GREAT WINE. MOST VILLAGES
HAVE WINE-MAKING CO-OPS, OFFERING A HANDY ONE-STOP PLACE
TO TASTE THE VARIOUS WINES. MY FRIEND AND FELLOW TOUR GUIDE
SABINE LETEINTURIER IS JOINING US TO BE SURE I GET THE FINE
POINTS OF PROVENCAL CULTURE JUST RIGHT. WAIT UNTIL YOU
TASTE THIS WINE. THIS IS THE
CAVEAUX de GIGONDAS. IT’S A COOPERATIVE. WITHIN THE COTES du RHONE, VILLAGES LIKE GIGONDAS
HAVE FAMILY-RUN WINERIES. VISITORS ARE PRESENTED
WITH A LIST, AND FROM THAT THEY CAN SAMPLE
FROM AN ENTICING SELECTION. THE TINY SAMPLING BOTTLES ARE FILLED DIRECTLY
FROM THE BARREL. BECAUSE YOU’RE BUYING DIRECT
FROM THE GROWER, PRICES ARE EXCELLENT. VINTNERS ARE HAPPY
TO WORK WITH YOU, IF THEY CAN FIGURE OUT
WHAT YOU WANT. KNOWING WHAT YOU LIKE — DRYER,
FULL-BODIED, MORE FRUITY, LESS TANNIC, AND SO ON —
IS HELPFUL, AND KNOWING THE TERM IN FRENCH
IS EVEN MORE HELPFUL. Rick:
IF I’M SHOPPING FOR A WINE,
I’M OFTEN THINKING — I THINK, LIKE MOST AMERICANS,
OF THE GRAPE. I’M LOOKING FOR A MERLOT OR
A SYRAH OR SOMETHING LIKE THIS. FOR FRENCH WINE WE DO NOT HAVE
AN INDICATION OF THE GRAPE. BUT WHAT YOU WILL HAVE
ON THE LABEL IS WHERE THE WINE
IS COMING FROM, WHICH WILL GIVE YOU
THE SNAPSHOT OF THE terrior. SO WHAT IS
THE terrior? Terrior DESCRIBES
THE PHYSICAL CONDITION, THE CLIMATIC CONDITION
OF WHERE THE VINEYARD IS AH, OKAY. SO IN THAT YOU HAVE
A REFERENCE ON THE SOIL, THE SLOPE,
HOW MUCH SUN IT GETS. SO IF YOU KNOW
THE terrior, YOU KNOW THE PERSONALITY
OF THE WINE. ABSOLUTELY. SO YOU COME INTO A PLACE
LIKE THIS AND YOU’VE GOT, LIKE, 50 DIFFERENT
SELECTIONS. HOW ON EARTH DO YOU KNOW
WHICH, WHICH WINE YOU WANT? WELL, THE FIRST THING
YOU HAVE TO DECIDE: WHAT’S FOR DINNER. ARE YOU GONNA
HAVE — SHALL WE HAVE
GRILLED MEAT? ARE WE GOING
TO HAVE GAME? YOU KNOW, A STRONG MEAT
WITH A SAUCE? AND THEN WE SELECT
THE WINE. SO YOU GO
TO A FRIEND’S HOUSE, AND THEY’RE SERVING
SOME GAME WITH A SPICY SAUCE AND THEY COME UP WITH
JUST A OFF-THE-WALL WINE, YOU ARE AWARE
OF THAT? YEAH, ABSOLUTELY. THEY CONCEIVED IT, LIKE CREATING THE
INSTRUMENTATION FOR A DIFFERENT COMPOSITION,
A MUSICAL COMPOSITION. THAT’S RIGHT. I MEAN, YOU REALLY GET,
REALLY THAT SUBTLETY. I WAS
THINKING OBOES. YOU’VE GOT
FRENCH HORNS. [ laughs ] THE FRENCH EAT LONG AND WELL,
ESPECIALLY HERE IN THE SOUTH. RELAXED TREE-SHADED LUNCHES, LONG DINNERS AND LAZY
AFTERNOONS AT OUTDOOR CAFES ARE THE NORM. THE FRENCH HAVE A LEGISLATED
35-HOUR WORKWEEK, AND IT SEEMS, A SELF-IMPOSED
30-HOUR EAT-WEEK. PROVENCE HAS BEEN CALLED
FRANCE’S GARDEN MARKET. SALADS ARE POPULAR. PROVENCAL CUISINE LOVES GARLIC,
OLIVE OIL AND HERBS. ORDER ANYTHING à la Provençale,
AND YOU’LL BE WELL REWARDED. LAID-BACK LUNCHES OFTEN COME
WITH A CHILLED ROSE. THE BLUSH WINES
ARE CONSIDERED REFRESHING. THEY CAN BE VERY GOOD
AND ARE RESPECTED HERE ALONG WITH WHITES AND REDS. AIX-en-PROVENCE IS THE HISTORIC
CAPITAL OF THE REGION. FOR A TOURIST, AIX
IS DELIGHTFULLY FREE OF MUST-SEE MUSEUMS
OR ANCIENT RUINS. IT’S SIMPLY A WEALTHY TOWN, ITS PEOPLE KNOWN FOR LIVING
WELL AND LOOKING GOOD. AIX’S UNIVERSITY GIVES THE CITY
A YOUTHFUL ENERGY. CENTURIES AGO,
THE KING MADE AIX THE DISTRICT’S
ADMINISTRATIVE CENTER. NOBLE FRENCH FAMILIES MOVED IN, KICKING OFF THE CITY’S
BEAUTIFUL AGE, OR belle époque. THEY LINED THE STREETS
WITH PRIVATE MANSIONS, GIVING AIX ITS
CLASSY APPEARANCE. AIX THRIVED, THANKS TO ITS
ARISTOCRATIC POPULATION. BUT WHEN THE REVOLUTION CAME, AND THE BUST OF THE KING
ON THE CITY HALL WAS REPLACED BY MARIANNE,
THE LADY OF THE REPUBLIC, SUDDENLY IT BECAME DANGEROUS
TO BE AN ARISTOCRAT. THE WEALTHY FLED THE CITY AND AIX SLUMBERED
THROUGH MOST OF THE 1800s. BUT TODAY, ONCE AGAIN,
IT’S RESUMED ITS TRENDY WAYS. THE MAIN BOULEVARD,
COURS MIRABEAU, IS DESIGNED
FOR THE RICH AND FAMOUS TO STRUT THEIR FANCY STUFF. IT SURVIVES MUCH AS IT WAS: NARROW FOR TRAFFIC AND VERY
WIDE FOR PEDESTRIANS WHO WOULD PROMENADE
UNDER THEIR ELEGANT MANSIONS. COURS MIRABEAU REMAINS
THE PLACE FOR tendance; THAT’S TRENDINESS. THE FRENCH ARE WORLD-CLASS
PEOPLE-WATCHERS. ENJOY THE SHOW. IN AIX’S OLD TOWN, INVITING PEDESTRIAN STREETS
HUM WITH ACTIVITY. TOWNS ARE PARTICULARLY LIVELY
ON MARKET DAYS. GOOD GUIDEBOOKS
LIST MARKET DAYS AND TRAVELERS WHO PLAN WELL ENJOY THE MOST VIVID
EXPERIENCE. AIX’S FARMERS MARKET IS
A CLASSIC PROVENCAL SCENE: RUSTIC FARMERS
SELLING FRESH PRODUCE UNDER THE SHADE
OF GRACEFUL PLANE TREES. Sabine:
FRESHNESS IS EVERYTHING
IN THE PROVENCAL COOKING. HERE’S YOUR GARLIC — I KNOW WHAT
THIS IS. — ESSENTIAL
TO PROVENCAL CUISINE. CAN’T COOK
WITHOUT IT. NO WAY. AND YOU HAVE YOUR
HERBS OF PROVENCE. YOU HAVE YOUR DRIED SAGE,
THYME, ROSEMARY. WE’RE ALL SET
FOR COOKING. (together) Bonjour. Bonjour. Bonjour.
Vous voudrez goûter? Rick: Oui.
Sabine: Avec plaisir. Sabine:
THIS IS GOAT CHEESE. IN PROVENCE WE HAVE GOAT
CHEESE, NOT COW’S CHEESE. HUH. AND IT’S NOT
SO STRONG. MMM. IT IS
VERY GOOD. DELICIOUS. IT GOES FROM MILD TO STRONGER
IN TASTE WITH AGE. Rick: C’est délicieux.
Merchant: Merci beaucoup. (laughs)
Au revoir. Sabine:
Au revoir. [ men shouting in French ] AND JUST BEYOND ANY MARKET, YOU’RE LIKELY TO FIND THE LOCAL
GANG PLAYING boules. Boules IS THE HORSESHOES
OF SOUTHERN FRANCE. IT’S PLAYED IN EVERY VILLAGE
ON GRAVELLY COURTS KEPT JUST FOR THIS PURPOSE. EVERY FRENCH BOY GROWS UP
PLAYING boules. IT’S ENTERTAINING TO WATCH, ESPECIALLY IF YOU
UNDERSTAND THE RULES. Boules IS PLAYED WITH HEAVY
METAL BALLS, OR boules, AND A TINY TARGET BALL. WHOEVER GETS THEIR boules
CLOSEST TO THE TARGET BALL SCORES. THERE ARE TWO ON A TEAM. ONE LOBS THE BALL AS CLOSE
TO THE TARGET AS HE CAN. THE OTHER TRIES TO KNOCK AWAY
THE OPPONENT’S boules. ONCE ALL THE BALLS
HAVE BEEN LAUNCHED AND THE ATTEMPTED BLASTING
IS OVER, MEASUREMENTS ARE MADE. WHOEVER ENDS UP WITH THE BALL
CLOSEST TO THE TARGET RECEIVES ONE POINT. THE FIRST TO REACH 13 WINS. BETWEEN ROUNDS, PLAYERS ARE
HAPPY TO LET CURIOUS TRAVELERS GIVE IT A TRY. OKAY, HERE
WE GO. READY,
HERE WE GO. LIKE,
LIKE SO? Comme ça. Oui! THE NEARBY CITY OF AVIGNON
IS FAMOUS FOR ITS PAPAL PALACE AND ITS BROKEN BRIDGE. CONTEMPORARY AVIGNON PROSPERS BEHIND ITS MIGHTY
MEDIEVAL WALLS. WITH ITS LARGE STUDENT
POPULATION AND FASHIONABLE SHOPS, AVIGNON
IS AN INTRIGUING BLEND OF YOUTHFUL SPIRIT
AND SOPHISTICATION. ITS FOREBODING PAPAL PALACE
DOMINATES THE OLD TOWN. THROUGH MOST
OF THE 14th CENTURY, THE CATHOLIC CHURCH WAS RUN
FROM HERE, IN AVIGNON. IN 1309, THE FRENCH-BORN POPE,
CLEMENT V, DECIDED TO MOVE THE PAPACY
FROM ROME TO AVIGNON. ALL OF EUROPE RECOGNIZED CLEMENT
AS THE LEGITIMATE POPE. DURING THAT PERIOD AVIGNON GREW FROM A QUIET VILLAGE
TO A POWERFUL CITY. THE CHURCH BASICALLY
BOUGHT UP THE TOWN AND MADE IT EUROPE’S LARGEST
CONSTRUCTION ZONE. IT BUILT ITS WALL, MANSIONS FOR CARDINALS, RESIDENCES FOR THE ENTIRE
VATICAN BUREAUCRACY, VAST PUBLIC SQUARES AND THE POPE’S TOWERING PALACE. AFTER ABOUT 70 YEARS, A LATER POPE MOVED THE PAPACY
BACK TO ROME. BUT AVIGNON INSTALLED
ITS OWN RIVAL POPE AND FOR ABOUT 40 YEARS THERE
WERE TWO DISPUTED POPES, ONE IN ROME AND ONE IN AVIGNON. FINALLY, IN 1417, A CHURCH-WIDE
COUNCIL AFFIRMED THE ROMAN POPE. AVIGNON DROPPED ITS CLAIM AND WHAT WAS CALLED
THE GREAT SCHISM WAS OVER. THIS BRIDGE IS
THE PONT D’AVIGNON, MADE FAMOUS
BY THE 15th-CENTURY FOLK SONG KNOWN TO ALL
FRENCH SCHOOL KIDS. [ woman singing in French ] AVIGNON’S FAMOUS BRIDGE WAS VITAL FOR TRADE
IN THE MIDDLE AGES. WHILE ONLY A FEW ARCHES
SURVIVE, THE BRIDGE WAS HUGE, EXTENDING ALL THE WAY
TO THE LONELY TOWER OF PHILIP THE FAIR, WHICH MARKED
THE BEGINNING OF FRANCE. LIKE NIMES, INDUSTRIAL AVIGNON
WAS THOROUGHLY WATER-POWERED. ITS RIVER WAS SPLIT INTO CANALS
TO DRIVE WATERWHEELS WHICH POWERED THE TOWN’S
19th-CENTURY FACTORIES AND TEXTILE MILLS. THIS STREET OF THE DYERS
IS CHARMING. ITS LIMESTONE CAR BARRIERS ARE CARVED WHIMSICALLY
BY AMATEUR SCULPTORS. AVIGNON RETAINS ITS QUAINT
INDUSTRIAL AGE SOUVENIRS, BUT ITS SLEEK NEW
TRAIN STATION, WHICH WELCOMES FRANCE’S
BULLET TRAIN, IS A GOOD EXAMPLE
OF HOW FRANCE IS EMBRACING MODERN TECHNOLOGY AND INVESTING IN PUBLIC
TRANSPORTATION. THE 180-MILE-AN-HOUR TGV TRAINS
NOW PUT THE SOUTH OF FRANCE LESS THAN THREE HOURS
FROM PARIS. AND THE FREEWAYS ARE DOING
THEIR BEST TO KEEP UP THE PACE. IN FRANCE, LIKE ALMOST
ANYWHERE IN EUROPE, THE FASTEST WAY FROM A TO B
IS THE AUTOROUTE, OR FREEWAY. FRENCH AUTOROUTES
COME WITH TOLLS. BUT IF YOU’RE IN A HURRY,
THEY EASILY SAVE ENOUGH TIME TO JUSTIFY THE EXPENSE. BUT, OF COURSE, SLOW ROADS
COME WITH MORE MEMORIES. TO BE ALL ALONE WITH YOUR OWN
PERSONAL ROMAN RUIN, TAKE A QUICK DETOUR
TO THE AQUEDUCT OF BARBEGAL. THESE ARE THE SCANT REMAINS OF
AN ANCIENT ROMAN POWER STATION, CHANNELING A RIVER
TO TURN THEIR MILLS. THE ROMANS INGENIOUSLY
HARNESSED MAXIMUM POWER FROM THE WATER FLOW. THEY BUILT A SERIES
OF TERRACED POOLS, ALLOWING THE WATER
TO CASCADE DOWN, POWERING EIGHT SEPARATE
GRINDING MILLS. ROMANS GREW WHEAT
ON THESE VAST FIELDS AND BROUGHT THE GRAIN HERE
TO THE MEGA WATER MILL. CUTTING THROUGH THIS BLUFF, THE WATER FROM THIS AQUEDUCT
PROVIDED POWER TO PRODUCE ENOUGH FLOUR
EACH DAY TO FEED 12,000 HUNGRY ROMANS. THE MILL SERVED THE NEARBY
ROMAN TOWN OF ARLES, AND THAT’S WHERE WE’RE HEADING. BY HELPING JULIUS CAESAR
DEFEAT MARSEILLE, THE PEOPLE OF ARLES
EARNED THE IMPERIAL NOD AND THEIR CITY WAS MADE
AN IMPORTANT RIVER PORT. WITH ITS STRATEGIC BRIDGE
OVER THE RHONE RIVER, ARLES WAS A KEY STOP ON THE
ROMAN ROAD FROM ITALY TO SPAIN. AFTER BEING A TRADING CENTER
FOR CENTURIES, ARLES BECAME A SLEEPY TOWN OF
LITTLE IMPORTANCE IN THE 1700s. ALLIED BOMBS DESTROYED MUCH
OF THE CITY IN WORLD WAR II. BUT TODAY ARLES
THRIVES AGAIN. THIS COMPACT CITY IS ALIVE
WITH ROMAN RUINS, AN ECLECTIC ASSORTMENT
OF MUSEUMS AND WELCOMING PEDESTRIAN ZONES. IT’S MY FAVORITE HOME BASE
FROM WHICH TO EXPLORE FRANCE’S PROVENCE REGION. TWICE A WEEK, ARLES’ RING ROAD ERUPTS INTO AN OPEN-AIR MARKET
OF FLOWERS, READY-FOR-RATATOUILLE BASKETS
OF PRODUCE AND EVERYTHING BUT CAR TRAFFIC. JOIN IN. TRY THE OLIVES. SNIFF THAT LAVENDER
OF PROVENCE. THE BEAUTY OF THIS MARKET
IS ITS INTERNATIONAL FLAVOR, REFLECTING HOW PROVENCE REMAINS A CROSSROADS
OF MEDITERRANEAN CULTURES. PAELLA FROM SPAIN, FRAGRANT MINT LEAVES FOR TEA, SPICES FROM NORTH AFRICA. THE MARKET FEELS A LITTLE
LIKE A BAZAAR, THANKS TO THE MANY ALGERIANS
AND MOROCCANS WHO CALL ARLES HOME. THROUGHOUT FRANCE, BUT
ESPECIALLY HERE IN THE SOUTH, MUSLIM NORTH AFRICANS
FROM FRANCE’S FORMER COLONIES HAVE COME TO PICK OLIVES,
HARVEST FRUIT AND SO ON. WHILE THEY ARE INTEGRATING, FRANCE IS DEALING WITH
THE FRICTION ANY COUNTRY HAS WHEN IMMIGRANT LABORERS
DO ITS LOWLIEST JOBS. THE FORUM SQUARE IS NAMED
FOR THE ROMAN FORUM THAT ONCE STOOD RIGHT HERE. THIS SQUARE WAS THE POLITICAL
AND RELIGIOUS CENTER OF ROMAN ARLES. STILL LIVELY, IT’S JUST
THE PLACE FOR A pastis. THIS IS THE TRADITIONAL APERITIF
HERE IN PROVENCE. IT’S A MIX, OR BLEND,
OF ANISE AND OTHER HERBS, AND YOU CUT IT, DILUTE IT,
ACCORDING TO TASTE. THEY SERVE IT
WITH A CARAFE OF WATER. IT’S ALMOST A TRADITION HERE
BEFORE A MEAL TO GET TOGETHER WITH GOOD
FRIENDS AND ENJOY A pastis. THE MOST DRAMATIC REMNANT
OF ROMAN ARLES IS ITS ARENA. IMAGINE THE ROAR OF THE FANS
PACKING THIS PLACE NEAR 2,000 YEARS AGO AS GLADIATORS BATTLED
WILD ANIMALS. THE FLOOR WAS COVERED WITH SAND
TO ABSORB ALL THE BLOOD. THE WORD ARENA
ACTUALLY MEANS SAND. WHILE THE GRAND CITY OF ROME
COULD AFFORD EXOTIC BEASTS LIKE TIGERS AND LIONS
FROM FARAWAY PLACES, SMALLER TOWNS LIKE ARLES MADE DO WITH SNARLY LOCAL BEASTS
LIKE WILD BOAR, BEARS AND SO ON. LIKE IN NIMES,
THE ARENA IN ARLES IS STILL USED
FOR CONCERTS,BULLFIGHTS, AND OTHER SPECTACLES. IN TUMULTUOUS MEDIEVAL TIMES,
LOCALS BRICKED UP THE ARCHES, TURNING THE STADIUM
INTO A FORTIFIED TOWN. OVER A HUNDRED HUMBLE HOMES WERE CRAMMED
WITHIN ITS CIRCULAR DEFENSES. THREE OF ITS MEDIEVAL TOWERS
SURVIVE. WE’RE STAYING
AT HOTEL CALENDAL. THE FRIENDLY STAFF
SPEAKS ENGLISH; NOT UNUSUAL HERE IN PROVENCE. ITS ROOMS ARE QUIET AND COMFY,
AND MANY COME WITH VIEWS. GUESTS ENJOY INTERNET ACCESS, AN ENTICING BREAKFAST BUFFET AND THE SHADY PROVENCAL
CHIC COURTYARD. THE CALENDAL PROVIDES JUST
THE MIX OF COMFORT AND ECONOMY I LOOK FOR WHEN RESEARCHING
MY GUIDEBOOKS. NEARBY, THE ARLATEN MUSEUM
WAS FOUNDED TO GIVE LOCALS AN APPRECIATION
OF THEIR CULTURAL ROOTS. THAT STARTS WITH ANCIENT ROME. THE BUILDING ITSELF SEEMS TO EMBRACE
AN EVOCATIVE OLD TEMPLE. VISITORS ENJOY AN INTIMATE LOOK
AT PROVENCAL FOLK CULTURE, AND THAT INCLUDES
TRADITIONAL DRESS FROM THE 18th AND 19th
CENTURIES. FREESTANDING WEDDING ARMOIRES
WERE GIVEN TO BRIDES BY PARENTS AND FILLED WITH THE ESSENTIALS
TO BEGIN A NEW LIFE. CARVED WOODEN CAGES CALLED
Panetière HUNG FROM THE WALLS, KEEPING BREAD AWAY
FROM HUNGRY CRITTERS. PROVENCAL TRADITIONS
ARE REMEMBERED. HERE A WEALTHY WOMAN
JUST HAD A BABY AND IS VISITED BY FRIENDS BRINGING GIFTS REPRESENTING
PHYSICAL AND MORAL QUALITIES. THEY HOPE THE BABY WILL BE
FULL AS AN EGG, WISE AS SALT AND STRAIGHT AS A MATCH. PERHAPS ARLES’ MOST FAMOUS
RESIDENT WAS A DUTCHMAN, VINCENT van GOGH. HE WAS 35 WHEN HE MOVED HERE
IN 1888, AND IT WAS HERE THAT HE
DISCOVERED THE LIGHT THAT INSPIRED IN HIM
AN EXPLOSION OF CREATIVITY. Van GOGH, COMING FROM THE GRAY
SKIES AND FLATLANDS OF HOLLAND AND PARIS WAS INSPIRED
BY EVERYTHING PROVENCAL. HE CLAIMED THE WHOLE FUTURE
OF ART IS TO BE FOUND HERE IN THE SOUTH OF FRANCE. HERE IN ARLES,
NEARLY EVERYWHERE YOU TURN, YOU SEE SCENES THAT COULD HAVE
INSPIRED van GOGH. WHILE HERE, HE WORKED
IN A FLURRY, PRODUCING MORE PAINTINGS THAN AT ANY OTHER PERIOD
IN HIS TOO-BRIEF CAREER, NEARLY 200 CANVASSES
IN JUST OVER A YEAR. YOU CAN STILL VISIT THE PLACES
THAT INSPIRED HIM, LIKE THIS HOSPITAL COURTYARD. WHILE ALL van GOGH LEFT IN
ARLES WAS A CHUNK OF HIS EAR — YOU WON’T FIND ANY PAINTINGS — HIS LEGACY CONTINUES
AT THE FOUNDATION van GOGH. IT FEATURES A STIMATING
COLLECTION OF WORKS BY CONTEMPORARY ARTISTS
PAYING HOMAGE TO van GOGH THROUGH THEIR THOUGHT-PROVOKING
INTERPRETATIONS OF VINCENT’S WORK. WHETHER YOU’RE IN SEARCH
OF THE MAGIC LIGHT, LIKE van GOGH, PERHAPS THE BEST ROMAN RUINS
ANYWHERE, A BLOODLESS BULLFIGHT, LESSONS IN boules OR JUST THE RIGHT WINE, PROVENCE HAS IT ALL. Viva la Provence! I HOPE YOU’VE ENJOYED OUR LOOK AT THIS SMALL BUT ENDEARING
SLICE OF FRANCE. I’M RICK STEVES. UNTIL NEXT TIME,
KEEP ON TRAVELIN’.

97 Replies to “Provence: Legendary Light, Wind, and Wine”

  1. Gracias Rick, por las recomendaciones, estuve con my familia en Paris, versalles y algunos pueblos franceses, via Suiza ¡Inolvidable Francia!!
    Saludos desde Miranda, Venezuela!!

  2. is it cruelty to do horse jumping??? 
    "Course camarguaise » from the Provence Area is not a bull-fighting!
     It’s an ancestral sport: human and  bull are trained and selected in special schools, the goal being to get the trophy between the horns of a brave bull.
    It’s completly wrong to associate « course camarguaise » and « corrida », it’s like associating « dog-race » and « dog fighting »
    Please see THE difference!!!!

  3. I like  your naive analysis about the reasons immigrants from north Africa are in difficulties… The tourists can go on, but issues roots are not in low jobs…everybody knows this…

  4. at 3:28 the guy with his is son at the museum, is the guy who played Marc Antony in the HBO series "Rome." How ironic…

  5. Love your shows and tours places look really nice.  Ok Van Gogh ear.   This is a true story not what they tell you.  He did not cut off his ear.  It is true that a lot of paints have lead etc and other things to drive a person nuts.  It is true that he CAUSED it to happen.  But it is a trademark in France and also in Italy.  It means he is bad a betting and doesn't pay his betting debts.  They do it to tell people not to bet with people who have lost part of their ears.  It is very old in style the Roma are not the only people who do it.  Mostly it is France and Italy.  There is a rich person's son I forget who but when they kidnapped him in Italy they sent back his ear.  See they want their money NOW.  Ok people think they can travel and steal along the way or gamble without paying for their bets and it is really not true if they figure out who you are they have a network of people in every city in Europe who can finally get their money out of you and cut your ear to teach you and warn who you might travel and try to bet with later.  I think it is better then being murdered for the gamblers who don't pay…… but he didn't take a knife and cut off his ear he gambled and didn't pay so they cut off part of his ear.  So in a way depending on translations….. he did it to himself…. should have not gambled when he couldn't pay.     Long story short but people by the sea who gamble really mean it they want to get paid……….

  6. what I said it true. France is my country, if you are french you know the reason immigrants from north Africa are in trouble is not the job they have or had.

  7. There was a lady who lived in Arles, France who died at the age of 122 in 1997. The longest lived person who age has been verified. She knew the artist Vincent Van Gogh.

  8. Le pont du Gard n'est pas en Provence mais en Languedoc Roussillon ! La carte de présentation n'est pas bonne car la Provence va jusqu'aux portes de l'Italie

  9. this was one of Rick's finest work. I have to say his guide books are really well put together. Im considering buying a few.

  10. Um 14:00…she eats the cheese and puts her used toothpick back on top of the cheese? Like…this is what feeds my phobia of communal food.

  11. What a shame there was no mention of the other great Roman building in Arles……….the Horreum, grain store, in the basement of St Trophime…

  12. The map of Provence at the beginning is wrong: Provence is much bigger than that and goes eastwards until the Italian border!

  13. 1:40  Would you LOOK at those vegetables!  That is Beautiful.  I never seen all of them ripe like that in person before.  Well maybe when  I lived in California at the farmers markets but I have been in PA for 20+ years and  I forgot what real produce looked like.

  14. Hey.. thanx for helping recalling my memories of the city.. I spend a month there… very beautiful… I too have uploaded a video saved during having dinner with friends… the tribes skills… we used to see during dinner on weekends

  15. I am bit disappointed to note that you don't  have a travelogue on America. If you have one;  kindly post it, and if you haven't then plz. do a full length video of the same. Although, there are a few travel documentaries on America;  it is your eximious style of hosting, Rick; which makes all the difference, and the video worthy of viewing.  You are the Best!

  16. The bull chase  of Provence can definitely be deemed as a valiant form of sport;  unlike the brutal bull fight of Spain. The Spaniards could do well by adopting this civilized version of the SPORT, and also foster their culture and tradition.  Anybody listening!

  17. Just think, when we eliminate hate and pollution off the face of earth how beautiful it will All be…! Love is doing this.

  18. All of your travel shows are so information packed and soothing……I enjoy them all! Great job Rick Steves…I hope you will do new destinations soon.

  19. At least in this video, they are not hurting the bull. I saw bullfighting in Portugal and they are hurting the bull. I cannot stand it. Why is the human recreation of bullfighting is hurting an animal. That is why I will never watch bullfighting anymore. I only did it once. It is brutal to me.

  20. I was in Barbégal as well. Its a real recommendation. You can find it near Fontvielle. You have to walk a bit. But its amazing. I actually found a graffiti made on my birthday 29-07-1974

  21. Congratulations sir this is a very good description of the Provencal way of life and traditions. In Provence it is possible to find some circular middle aged village called corculades . These villages are built around the village castle and the central place. One of the best exemple is Montpezat 18 kilometers from the City of Nîmes. Anyway your presentation is one of the best I have ever seen. Let's visit the Provence and appreciate its way of life and historical monuments.

  22. The game is called pétanque .(pronounced, "pay-tonk"), SOMETIMES called, boules ("bool"), but mostly known —ESPECIALLY in the South of France— as pétanque.

  23. Sorry but your map of Provence is false because Provence had never have lands at East of Rhone river

    Historic Provence are all land to the West of Rhone river to italia including 7 "departements" : Vaucluse, Bouche du Rhone, Var, Alpes maritimes, Alpes de Haute Provence (full of this 5 départements, maybe less "comté de Nice" (because it was not France before 1860 = it was not historical Provence) and South of Drome, South of Hautes Alpes

    But NEVER NEVER NEVER all lands at East of Rhone river like on your map (where is from your map ?)

  24. Definitely best travel videos on YouTube! Rick Steves Undisputed and undefeated world champ🏆🥇

  25. Love learning about different peoples and cultures plus the food and history. Thank you. Your show is a window to the world.

  26. The Lorraine region east of Paris is a pretty region with some Unisco world heritage sites in Nancy. I haven't gotten to see much else of France. I didn't even go to Paris while I was there lol wish I could go to Nimes and see Rammstein in the arena one time

  27. it's interesting that the Roman cities of Arles and Nimes had arenas with violent spectacles while nearby Greek Marseille did not, although it was a bigger and more important city during Roman times

  28. I'm not really the one to be interested in videos like this about other places, but my French 1 teacher has assigned so many videos by him I can hear his voice in my sleep.

  29. Would love to watch Rammstein in the Nimes arena. Such a great venue. Check out Volkerball if you haven't seen it and want to see more of the arena in action

  30. // RICK STEVENS EUROPE // YOUTUBE LICENTIE // FRENCH RIVIERA; UNIQUELY CHIC!! AND PROVENCE; LEGENDARY LIGHT, WIND AND WINE!!.

  31. France, Italy, Spain and Portugal are icons of the Roman empire that show the world Latin culture is the best

  32. Boules is played all over France not just the south. Even in the German border you will find alot of boules courts in every town

  33. Sir Rick Steves you’re video is lovely 😊 and your voice so sweet sounds good and i loved the way you are , all your video is amazing excellent reporting and I loved redredred 🍷 wine 🍷 rejouir 👏 To live is to enjoy 😉 mercy god bless and peace

  34. Isaiah 27 (KJV) – ኢሳይያስ
    1: In that day the LORD with his sore and great and strong sword shall punish leviathan the piercing serpent, even leviathan that crooked serpent; and he shall slay the dragon that is in the sea.Jeremiah 51 (KJV) – ኤርምያስ
    44: And I will punish Bel in Babylon, and I will bring forth out of his mouth that which he hath swallowed up: and the nations shall not flow together any more unto him: yea, the wall of Babylon shall fall.
    45: My people, go ye out of the midst of her, and deliver ye every man his soul from the fierce anger of the LORD.Job 26 (KJV) – እዮብ
    12: He divideth the sea with his power, and by his understanding he smiteth through the proud.
    13: By his spirit he hath garnished the heavens; his hand hath formed the crooked serpent.

  35. Great Work by Rick Steves. Europe is full of Majestic Scenery and wonderful History. I love Europe. Especially France.

  36. Recently i hike all the way from Lyon to Arles next to the Rhone river ! Fantastic place rich in culture and the people very friendly

  37. In Arles there is no museum exhibitting Van Gogh's painting. It's a bit disappointing. My Friend of Arles told me that Van Gogh isn't very apreciated by local inhabitants and isn't seen as a glory.

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