Roman Provence

German forces occupied Arles when they took over all of France including its "free zone" administered by the Vichy Government in November 1942 as a precaution when the allies invaded North Africa. Within the the months before the allied landing in Southern France in August 1944 a large number of bombing raids were carried out by the allies in order to destroy railway lines and stations and cut the bridges across the Rhone to hinder the German retreat. Arles had endured eight raids between 25 June and 15 August which inflicted great damage to the buildings and a considerable number of civilian deaths. Van Gogh's Maison Jaune was destroyed (see below) as most of the bridges along the Rhone were bombed. The bombing was actually carried out by groups from the Free French Airforce - thus ironically by Frenchmen themselves - flying American B26 Marauder medium bombers. As the Germans retreated up the west bank of the Rhone this had been quite unnecessary.
One such bridge in Arles which remains destroyed is the so-called Lion Bridge. The plaque on its façade reads
The bridge was built in 1868 to allow trains of the PLM company [Paris-Lyon Marseille] to link Arles to Lunel cross the Rhone river, which is already quite wide at this point. This line in particular was dedicated to dispatch the coal produced in the Cevennes mountains.  The bridge was destroyed on the 6th of August 1944, during a bombing.  All that remains of the bridge are its pillars and imposing sculptured lions. The lion sculptures are the work of Pierre Louis Rouillard.
The pillars remain standing 
Van Gogh's Trinquetaille Bridge 1888, since replaced after being bombed during the war- note the tree in both. In June of 1987, this painting sold for $20.2 million making it the second highest price ever paid for a painting at auction. Living in Arles, he was at the height of his career, producing some of his best work: sunflowers, fields, farmhouses and people of the Arles, Nîmes and Avignon areas. It was a prolific time for Van Gogh: in less than fifteen months he had created about 100 drawings, produced more than 200 paintings and wrote more than 200 letters. The canals, drawbridges, windmills, thatched cottages and expansive fields of the Arles countryside reminded Van Gogh of his life in the Netherlands. Arles brought him the solace and bright sun that he sought for himself and conditions to explore painting with more vivid colours, intense colour contrasts and varied brushstrokes. He also returned to the roots of his artistic training from the Netherlands, most notably with the use of a reed pen for his drawings.
In front of the Langlois Bridge at Arles, the subject of four oil paintings, one watercolour and four drawings by Vincent van Gogh. The works, made in 1888 when Van Gogh lived in Arles, represent a melding of formal and creative aspects. Van Gogh used a perspective frame that he built and used in The Hague to create precise lines and angles when portraying perspective.Van Gogh was influenced by Japanese woodcut prints, as evidenced by his simplified use of colour to create a harmonious and unified image. Contrasting colours, such as blue and yellow, were used to bring a vibrancy to the works. He painted with an impasto, or thickly applied paint, using colour to depict the reflection of light. The subject matter, a drawbridge on a canal, reminded him of his homeland in the Netherlands. He asked his brother Theo to frame and send one of the paintings to an art dealer in the Netherlands. The reconstructed Langlois Bridge is now named Pont Van-Gogh.
Van Gogh had been 35 when he made the Langlois Bridge paintings and drawings. The Langlois Bridge was one of the crossings over the Arles to Bouc canal. It was built in the first half of the 19th century to expand the network of canals to the Mediterranean Sea. Locks and bridges were built, too, to manage water and road traffic.
Just outside Arles, the first bridge was the officially titled "Pont de Réginel" but better known by the keeper's name as "Pont de Langlois". In 1930, the original drawbridge was replaced by a reinforced concrete structure which, in 1944, was blown up by the retreating Germans who destroyed all the other bridges along the canal except for the one at Fos-sur-Mer, a port on the Mediterranean Sea. The Fos Bridge was dismantled in 1959 with a view to relocating it on the site of the Langlois Bridge but as a result of structural difficulties, it was finally reassembled at Montcalde Lock several kilometres away from the original site. According to letters to his brother Theo, Van Gogh began a study of women washing clothes near the Langlois Bridge about mid-March 1888 and was working on another painting of the bridge about April 2. This was the first of several versions he painted of the Langlois Bridge that crossed the Arles canal. Reflecting on Van Gogh's works of the Langlois Bridge Debora Silverman, author of the book Van Gogh and Gauguin: The Search for Sacred Art comments, "Van Gogh's depictions of the bridge have been considered a quaint exercise in nostalgia mingled with Japonist allusions." Van Gogh approached the making of the paintings and drawings about the bridge in a "serious and sustained manner" with attention to "the structure, function, and component parts of this craft mechanism in the landscape."
Café Terrace on the Place du Forum
Van Gogh's Café Terrace at Night and the site today with Drake Winston, now renamed the Café Van Gogh. Café Terrace at Night is one of three Arles paintings that feature Van Gogh's distinctive star-filled sky. Starry Night Over the Rhone and Starry Night complete the trilogy. He had painted the café terrace scene on location rather than from memory.Jared Baxter argues the painting contains allusions to The Last Supper by Leonardo. In fact, a close study of the painting reveals that the main characters include one central figure with long hair surrounded by twelve individuals, plus a cross shines in the background of the composition, and van Gogh has included additional cross-like shapes throughout the artwork. A shadowy figure slipping through the doorway may symbolize Judas. A religious allusion wouldn't be too out of character for van Gogh. Before devoting his attention to painting, Van Gogh  had expressed a desire to "preach the gospel everywhere," and his father, Theodorus van Gogh, was a pastor for a Dutch Reformed church. Around the time of working on Cafe Terrace at Night, van Gogh wrote to his brother, Theo van Gogh, explaining that he had a "tremendous need for, shall I say the word - for religion," with direct reference to the painting. 
Maison Jaune 
The Maison Jaune, also the subject of Van Gogh, didn't survive the bombing and no longer exists. The place without the house looks almost the same. Although Van Gogh's building is gone a placard on the scene commemorates its former existence.
Marshal Petain and Admiral Darlan in front of the Town Hall with Petain's portrait on the façade when France was fighting the British and Americans in North Africa. By 1945 they had switched sides and Petain had been replaced with the portraits of Churchill, FDR, Stalin and, protecting national sensibilities, de Gaulle.
Arles amphitheatre 
Petain's image displayed at the amphitheatre. The central photograph shows German officers in 1944.

Won't let me take his photo unless bribed with ice cream 
Bombed during the war with wife and son at the reconstructed spot today.

The Barbegal aqueduct
At the Barbegal aqueduct and mill, a Roman watermill complex located near Arles, described as "the greatest known concentration of mechanical power in the ancient world." It was built to supply drinking water from the mountain chain of the Alpilles to Arles (then called Arelate) on the Rhône River. Within ten miles north of Arles at Barbegal, near Fontvieille, where the aqueduct arrived at a steep hill, the aqueduct fed two parallel sets of eight water wheels to power a flourmill. There are two aqueducts which join just north of the mill complex, and a sluice which enabled the operators to control the water supply to the complex. The mill consisted of 16 waterwheels in two separate descending rows built into a steep hillside. There are substantial masonry remains of the water channels and foundations of the individual mills, together with a staircase rising up the hill upon which the mills are built. The mills apparently operated from the end of the 1st century until about the end of the 3rd century.
Father and son's photo of mom between arches

Chapel of Saint-Gabriel de Tarascon
The chapel was built in the 12th century, and is decorated with biblical scenes including above the door Adam and Eve and the snake curling around the tree of knowledge of good and evil, along with Daniel with lions. It was added in the very first list of Historic Monuments of France in 1840. The Church has suffered numerous kinds of violence passing the centuries, including bombing by the Allies during the Second World War.

The Triumphal Arch of Orange was possibly erected during the reign of Augustus (27 BCE - 14 CE) on the former via Agrippa to honour the veterans of the Gallic Wars and Legio II Augusta. It was later reconstructed by emperor Tiberius to celebrate the victories of Germanicus over the German tribes in Rhineland. The arch contains an inscription dedicated to emperor Tiberius in 27. The arch is decorated with various reliefs of military themes, including naval battles, spoils of war and Romans battling Germans and Gauls. A Roman foot soldier carrying the shield of Legio II Augusta is seen on the north front battle relief.
The ancient Roman theatre in Orange was built early in the 1st century AD. It is one of the best preserved of all the Roman theatres in the Roman colony of Arausio (or, more specifically, Colonia Julia Firma Secundanorum Arausio: "the Julian colony of Arausio established by the soldiers of the second legion") which was founded in 40 BCE. Playing a major role in the life of the citizens, who spent a large part of their free time there, the theatre was seen by the Roman authorities not only as a means of spreading Roman culture to the colonies, but also as a way of distracting them from all political activities.  Mime, pantomime, poetry readings and the farce was the dominant form of entertainment, much of which lasted all day. Magnificent stage sets became very important, as was the use of stage machinery, to keep commoners entertained. The entertainment offered was open to all and free of charge.  As the Western Roman Empire declined during the 4th century, by which time Christianity had become the official religion, the theatre was closed by official edict in 391 CE since the Church opposed what it regarded as uncivilised spectacles. After that, the theatre was abandoned completely. It was sacked and pillaged by the "barbarians" and was used as a defensive post in the Middle Ages.
101 years apart
In the museum across the street

The Maison Carrée ("square house") during the Nazi occupation and today. It is the best preserved Roman temple façade to be found anywhere in the territory of the former Roman Empire. In around 4-7 CE it was dedicated or rededicated to Gaius Caesar and Lucius Caesar, grandsons and adopted heirs of Augustus who both died young. The inscription dedicating the temple to Gaius and Lucius was removed in medieval times. However, a local scholar, Jean-François Séguier, was able to reconstruct the inscription in 1758 from the order and number of the holes on the front frieze and architrave, to which the bronze letters had been affixed by projecting tines. According to Séguier's reconstruction, the text of the dedication read: "To Gaius Caesar, son of Augustus, Consul; to Lucius Caesar, son of Augustus, Consul designate; to the princes of youth." During the 19th century the temple slowly began to recover its original splendour, due to the efforts of Victor Grangent. Architecture Front view  Maison Carrée is an example of Vitruvian architecture. Raised on a 2.85 metre-high podium, the temple dominated the forum of the Roman city, forming a rectangle almost twice as long as it is wide, measuring 26.42 metres by 13.54 metres The façade is dominated by a deep portico or pronaos almost a third of the building's length. It is a hexastyle design with six Corinthian columns under the pediment at either end, and pseudoperipteral in that twenty engaged columns are embedded along the walls of the cella. Above the columns, the architrave is divided by two recessed rows of petrified water dripping into three levels with ratios of 1:2:3. On three sides the frieze is decorated with fine ornamental relief carvings of rosettes and acanthus leaves beneath a row of very fine dentils. 
Before and after its restoration
A large door (6.87 metres high by 3.27 metres wide) leads to the surprisingly small and windowless interior, where the shrine was originally housed. This is now used to house a tourist-oriented film on a the Roman history of Nîmes.
Germans marching past the former theatre which was destroyed by fire in 1952. Only its remarkable ionic colonnade was preserved and relocated to the Caissargues rest area on the A54 between Nîmes and Arles.
The so-called Temple of Diana, likely 1897 or else late 19th century. Its atmospheric ruins probably date from the Antonine period in the 2nd Century. It is not clear what the real purpose of this building was, but it was probably not a temple. It's been suggested that it might have been an Imperial cult centre or even a library.
The Arena of Nîmes is a Roman amphitheatre built around 70 CE. As the Roman Empire fell, the amphitheatre was fortified by the Visigoths and was surrounded by a wall. During the turbulent years that followed the collapse of Visigoth power in Hispania and Septimania, not to mention the Muslim invasion and subsequent conquest by the French kings in the mid eighth century, the viscounts of Nîmes constructed a fortified palace within the amphitheatre. In 737, after failing to seize Narbonne, Charles Martel destroyed a number of Septimanian cities on his way north, including Nîmes and its amphitheatre, as asserted in the Continuations of Fredegar. Later a small neighbourhood developed within its confines, complete with one hundred denizens and two chapels. Seven hundred people lived within the amphitheatre during the apex of its service as an enclosed community. The buildings remained in the amphitheatre until the eighteenth century, when the decision was made to convert the amphitheatre into its present form. 
In front of la fontaine Pradier, inaugurated on the esplanade of Nîmes on June 1, 1851. Built by architect Charles Questel and sculptor James Pradier, it is a monumental fountain in white marble of which the main element, a young woman standing, represents allegorically the city of Nimes. The main statue is surrounded by four seated statues, whose basins collect water. The features reflect the Roman legacy found in the amphitheater and colonnade of the Maison Carree. The four characters, two men and two women, represent the four major rivers of the Nîmes region: Fountain Nimes, mother source of the Roman colony, the Gardon, the Eure Fontaine and the Rhone. Each of these representations is identified by its Latin name engraved on the base: Nemausa, Vardo, Ura and Rhodano.
Frenchmen enthusiastically saluting the occupying Germans in front
German soldiers in the Nymphaeum
A crocodile chained to a palm tree with the inscription COL NEM, for Colonia Nemausus, (the colony of Nemausus, the local Celtic god of the Volcae Arecomici) can be seen all over the city, from elegant representations on the balcony of the town hall to more prosaic examples on the cast iron manhole covers scattered along the old winding streets of the town centre. According to one plausible theory the origins of this emblem may go back more than 2,000 years to September 31 BCE when the fleet of Octavian, nephew of Julius Caesar and future emperor, defeated that of Mark Antony and Cleopatra in the naval battle at Actium. By the time of the Battle of Actium, Mark Antony was based in Egypt. He was personally and politically united with the Egyptian queen Cleopatra who was present at the Battle, and they both fled  back to Egypt after their defeat. Consequently the victory at Actium would have been viewed as the defeat of Egypt, not just the defeat of Mark Antony himself, a point Augustus stressed regularly not least in the erection and dedication of Egyptian obelisks in Rome. This victory, and Antony's subsequent suicide in Egypt in 30 BCE, left Octavian in undisputed control of Rome and all its territories. The crocodile was frequently used to represent Egypt and a chained crocodile surmounted by a laurel crown (as worn by the Roman Emperor) quite clearly symbolised the submission of Egypt to Roman control. But his official reign as Rome's first emperor is usually considered not to have begun until January 27 BCE when among many other honours offered to him by the Senate he accepted the title of 'Augustus', which he adopted as his personal name and by which he was known for the rest of his long life. Veterans of the Roman legions who had served Julius Caesar in his Nile campaigns, at the end of fifteen years of soldiering, were given plots of land to cultivate on the plain of Nîmes.
Birthplace of Bernard Lazare, French Jewish literary critic, political journalist, polemicist, and anarchist who was among the first Dreyfusards. Given his reputation for combativeness and courage, Lazare was contacted by Mathieu Dreyfus to help prove his brother's innocence. Lazare devoted his time exclusively to the case, publishing his first paper, The Dreyfus Affair – A Miscarriage of Justice in Belgium in November 1896. In it, Lazare refuted the accusation point by point and demanded the sentence be overturned. The first version of the text was a savage attack on the accusers, ending with the phrase "J’accuse", later made famous by Émile Zola.
Pont du Gard is an ancient Roman aqueduct that crosses the Gardon River in the south of France. Located near the town of Vers-Pont-du-Gard, the bridge is part of the Nîmes aqueduct, a 50-kilometre system built in the first century AD to carry water from a spring at Uzès to the Roman colony of Nemausus (Nîmes). The Pont du Gard used to be dated to the Augustan period, but new excavations suggest the aqueduct was built AD 40–80, most probably in Claudius’ reign. Because of the uneven terrain between the two points, the mostly underground aqueduct followed a long, winding route that called for a bridge across the gorge of the Gardon River. The Pont du Gard is the highest of all elevated Roman aqueducts, and, along with the Aqueduct of Segovia, one of the best preserved. It was added to UNESCO's list of World Heritage Sites in 1985 because of its historical importance.  The bridge is unique in having three tiers of arches, standing 160 feet high. The whole aqueduct descends in height by only 56 feet over its entire length, while the bridge descends by a mere inch – a gradient of only 1 in 3,000 – which is indicative of the great precision that Roman engineers were able to achieve, using only simple technology. The aqueduct formerly carried an estimated 44,000,000 imperial gallons of water a day to the fountains, baths and homes of the citizens of Nîmes. It continued to be used possibly until the 6th century, with some parts used for significantly longer, but lack of maintenance after the 4th century meant that it became increasingly clogged by mineral deposits and debris that eventually choked off the flow of water.  After the collapse of the Roman Empire and the aqueduct's fall into disuse, the Pont du Gard remained largely intact, due to the importance of its secondary function, as a toll bridge. For centuries the local lords and bishops were responsible for its upkeep, in exchange for the right to levy tolls on travellers using it to cross the river, although some of its stones were looted and serious damage was inflicted on it in the 17th century. It attracted increasing attention starting in the 18th century and became an important tourist destination.

At the Mausoleum of the Julii, located across the Via Domitia, to the north of, and just outside the city entrance, dating to about 40 BCE, and is one of the best preserved mausoleums of the Roman era.  A dedication is carved on the architrave of the building facing the old Roman road, which reads:      SEX · M · L · IVLIEI · C · F · PARENTIBVS · SVEIS     Sextius, Marcus and Lucius Julius, sons of Gaius, to their forebears  It is believed that the mausoleum was the tomb of the mother and father of the three Julii brothers, and that the father, for military or civil service, received Roman citizenship and the privilege of bearing the name of the Julii, one of the most distinguished families in Rome.  The mausoleum is built in three stages. The upper stage, or tholos, is a circular chapel with Corinthian columns. It contains two statues wearing togas, presumably the father and grandfather of the Julii. (The heads of the statues were lost at an earlier date, and replaced in the 18th century). The conical roof is decorated with carved fish scales, traditional for Roman mausoleums. The frieze beneath the conical roof is decorated with a rinceau featuring carvings of acanthus leaves, used in Roman mortuary architecture to represent eternal rebirth.  The middle stage, or quadrifons, is an arch with four bays. The archivoltes, or curved bands of decoration on the tops of the arches, also have acanthus leaves. At the top of each arch is the carved head of a gorgon, the traditional protector of Roman tombs.  The frieze at the top of the quadrifons is decorated with carvings of tritons, carrying the disk of the sun, and with sea monsters.  The lowest part of the mausoleum is decorated with carved garlands of vegetation, theatre masks and cupids or putti, and with mythical or legendary scenes.   
The south face – horsemen hunt for wild boar in a forest. One horseman is wounded and dying in the arms of a companion. This may represent the legend of the hunt for the Calydonian Boar, conducted by Meleager, with Castor and Pollux shown on horseback.

  East face – an infantryman unhorses an Amazon warrior, a warrior takes trophies from a dead enemy, and the figure of Fame recites the story of the battle to a man and woman. The scene may be inspired by the Amazonomachy, the mythical war between the Greeks and the Amazons.   
  North face – a battle of horsemen, and a winged victory carries a trophy.      

West face – a scene from the Iliad and Trojan War, the Greeks and Trojans fighting for the body of Patroclus. 

The triumphal arch stood just outside the northern gate of the city, next to the mausoleum and was the visible symbol of Roman power and authority. It was built near the end of the reign of Augustus Caesar (who died in 14 AD). The upper portion of the arch, including the inscription, are missing.  The sculptures decorating the arch illustrated both the civilization of Rome and the dire fate of her enemies.      The panel to the right of the entrance shows a female figure seated on a pile of weapons, and a Gaullish prisoner with his hands tied behind him.     The panel to the left shows another prisoner in a Gaullish cloak, with a smaller man, wearing his cloak in the Roman style, placing his hand on the shoulder of the prisoner.     On the reverse side of the arch are sculptures of two more pairs of Gaullish prisoners.
In 49 BCE Julius Caesar captured Marseilles, and after a period of destructive civil wars, the Romanization of Provence and Glanum began.  In 27 BCE the Emperor Augustus created the Roman province of Gallia Narbonensis, and in this province Glanum was given the title of Oppidum Latinum, which gave residents the civil and political status of citizens of Rome. A triumphal arch was built outside the town between 10 and 25 BCE, near the end of the reign of Augustus, (the first such arch to be built in Gaul), as well as an impressive mausoleum of the Julii family, both still standing.  In the 1st century BCE, under the Romans, the city built a new forum, temples, and a curved stone arch dam, Glanum Dam, the oldest known dam of its kind, and an aqueduct, which supplied water for the towns fountains and public baths.  Glanum was not as prosperous as the Roman colonies of Arles, Avignon and Cavaillon, but by the 2nd century CE it was wealthy enough to build impressive shrines to the Emperors, to enlarge the forum, and to have extensive baths and other public buildings clad in marble.
The city’s main street covers the town drains for much of its length. Glanum did not survive the collapse of the Roman Empire. The town was overrun and destroyed by the Alamanni in 260 CE and subsequently abandoned, its inhabitants moving a short distance north into the plain to found a city that eventually became modern day Saint-Rémy-de-Provence.  After its abandonment Glanum became a source of stone and other building materials for Saint-Remy. Since the Roman system of drains and sewers was not maintained, the ruins became flooded and covered with mud and sediment.
In front of the baths, with a section of the hypocaust shown in the background. The thermal baths were built following a simple layout, from 75 BCE. They were a focus for social life in Antiquity, and a major Romanising factor. Nearby are two houses, one on the right with Hellenic peristyles, the other on the road which used to be decorated with a mosaic representing a capricorn.
The house with antae is typical of Mediterranean houses with its rooms laid out around a courtyard with a pool. It is named after two pilasters decorated with Corinthian capitals, called antae.
Beside the carved fountain for filling the natatio
The Hellenistic Bouleteurion with the partially reconstructed temple in the background. The Bouleuterion was the assembly hall for dignitaries during the Hellenistic period. It is terraced on three sides and originally had a central altar.

Montmajour Abbey

Montmajour Abbey, formally the Abbey of St. Peter in Montmajour, was a fortified Benedictine monastery built between the 10th and 18th centuries on what was originally an island three miles north of Arles.
Check out the incredible restoration
 Arles in the background
With Chapelle Sainte-Croix behind
A Neolithic grace site nearby
The Arch of Carpentras is a Roman triumphal arch from the beginning of the first century CE.  It has a single fornix, framed by fluted lesenes and decorated with an archivolt of vine tendrils. At the outer corners there are engaged columns and on the sides are images of trophies flanked by barbarian prisoners. These trophy reliefs are also found on the short sides of the Arch of Orange, which is however more richly decorated.  The arch was originally located on the city's cardo maximus. Later it was incorporated into the old cathedral as an access door and still later into the episcopal palace (now the courthouse).  Various theories have been proposed for the motivation for its construction. The theories are essentially based on the interpretation of the barbarian prisoners on the two reliefs (on the west side a German and an eastern barbarian with a Phrygian beard, another eastern barbarian and a person with a diadem which might indicate a Hellenistic king on the east side). Gilbert Picard has proposed that the arch was built to symbolically commemorate the victory of Augustus in the eastern and northern regions. Pierre Gros also proposed a date before 10 CE on the basis of the decorative motifs and a reference to the theme of Augustus' universal victory in the face of the succession issue of the last years of this Emperor's reign. R. Turcan has instead suggested that it was a celebration of the victories of Tiberius in the east and west in the years 18-19, perhaps related to the foundation of the colonia Julia Meminorum at Carpentras.

Aix en Provence
An American signal corps cameraman preparing to film troops