At the end of our stay in Arles, France, we rented a car for several days for the main purpose of driving down to Montpellier to catch our train to Spain. But the car also gave us the added benefit of being able to explore more of the Provence Region.
In planning one of our day trips we would be passing through the town of Saint Remy, France. However, the only item of interest listed in our guidebook for Saint Remy was the weekly market. We decided stopping in Saint Remy was not worth the time, as it was not market day. If it had been market day, this would be an entirely different blog post. But luckily for you, the reader, this is not another blog post about the amazing foods of France or about France’s exceptional markets. It is instead about a very interesting archeological site located right outside of Saint Remy.
Just before entering the town of Saint Remy, we noticed 3 pillars sticking up in the distance along with a road sign stating “site archeologique”. These pillars looked suspiciously Romanesque in nature, so of course we had to stop. We couldn’t possibly pass up anything that looked like a Roman ruin. We soon discovered that the pillars belonged to Glanum Archeological site, and boy were we glad that we stopped.
Glanum site, set at the foot of the Alpilles Mountains, has a natural spring with alleged healing powers, and has attracted humans for over 2,000 years. Glanum has even attracted a very famous artist, Vincent van Gogh. Initially the Gauls had settled at Glanum around the 6th to 7th century B.C. Then the Greeks moved in. Yes I did say Greeks. It surprised us too. Then the Romans moved in. With each subsequent settlement, older buildings were improved upon and incorporated into more elaborate structures, including temples, baths, and sewers.
Restoration of Glanum started in 1921 and has continued as most recently as 2007. The site contains some excellent examples of Greek and Roman sanitation systems, along with what a typical Roman courtyard and housing would look like. Each time we have had the opportunity to explore the multiple Roman Ruins in the Province region, I continue to be impressed by how sophisticated Roman plumbing was.
Glanum Archeological site also includes a market, Roman thermal baths, a wine smoking room and 4 temples. One of these temples was dedicated to Hercules and several of the altars with Latin inscriptions still survive today. There is also a walkway that leads up to a bluff, which gives an excellent view of the site, the town of Saint Remy, and the Alpilles Mountains.
Although our stop was unplanned, we timed our visit perfectly. It was a beautiful sunny day with no wind and we had the place to ourselves. We enjoyed spending a couple hours exploring the site and eating lunch amongst the ruins.
If you are ever in the Provence region, I highly recommend a stop at Glanum Archeological site. It is well worth the time and cost. Glanum is a hidden gem that even our favorite guidebook author, Rick Steves, who is rarely wrong missed.