Provence has been called a bridge between the past and the present, where yesterday blends with today. This beautiful place lies in the southern part of France, and is bordered on the east by Italy , on the south by the Mediterranean Sea, and on the west by the Rhone River. The area abounds with flower fields, vineyards, orchards, and olive and mulberry groves. Along the seacoast is the French Rivera and the Ports of Marseille and Toulon. Provence has its own language and its own customs. The region originally formed part of a Roman province called Provincia Romana, built in the 120 B.C. It was passed into the possession of several ancient Germanic peoples, the Visigoths, the Ostrogoths, and the Frankish kings. In 879 AD. the area was incorporated into the kingdom of Provence, sometimes call Cisjurane Burgundy, and in the 10th century into the e kingdom of Arles. After being ruled by the house of Anjou from about 1245 to 1482, the region came into the possession of King Louis XI of France, and in 14856 it was annexed to the French Kingdom.
Provence was a province until the French revolution, after which the area was distributed among several departments. The Greeks and Romans first filled the landscape with cities boasting Hellenic theaters, roman baths, amphitheaters, and triumphal arches. These were followed in medieval times by Romanesque fortresses and gothic cathedrals. In the 19th century Provence’s light and landscapes attracted painters like Cezzanne and Van Gogh. Despite the changes over the years, Provence will be remembered as the bridge between the past and the present. On the Garonne River, the great port of Bordeaux, the Capital of Aquitaine, is the center of the world’s most important wine producing areas. It attracts many visitors to the offices of wine exporters there, most of whom welcome guests.
Bordeaux is a city of warehouses, factories, mansions, and exploding suburbs. Now the fifth largest city of France is Bordeaux. Bordeaux was for 300 years a British possession, and even today’s it’s called the most UN-French of French cities, though the same has been said of Strasbourg. The local airport , Bordeaux Merignac, is served by flights from as far away as London and New York. A shuttle bus connects the airport with the train station, departing 30 minutes from 5:30 to 10:00pm, costing $35F one way. Your tour can begin at Place de La Comedie, at the very heart of this old city, a busy traffic hub that was once the site of Roman temple. On this square one of the great theaters of France, The Grand Theater, was built between1773 and 1780. From here you could walk north to esplanade des Quinconces, laid out between 1818 and 1828, it is the largest square of its kind in Europe, covering nearly 30 acres.
The Musee des Beaux Arts has an outstanding collection ranging from the 15th to the 20th century. Works by Perugina, Titian, Rubens, Veronese, Delacroix, Gros , Redon, and Lhote are displayed. The museum is open from 10 to 6 P.M. and the admission is 18f per person. The Pont de Pierre, with 17 arches , stretches 1,594 feet across the Garonne and is one of the most beautiful bridges in France. Ordered built by Napoleon I in 1813, the bridge can be crossed on foot for a fine of the port. But for a better view I suggest the tour of the port, which lasts for about 1 1/2 hours.
Toulouse city in southern France, capital of Haute-Garonne, on the Garonne River and the Canal du Midi. It is a major commercial, transportation, and manufacturing center, noted for the production of aircraft and aerospace equipment. Other products are chemicals, clothing, electrical machinery, and farm implements. Places of interest in Toulouse include the largest Romanesque Basilica of saint Sernin, which contains the tomb of St. Thomas Aquinas; the Gothic Cathedral of Saint Etienne; and the church of Notre Dame la Blanche. The city also contains many mansions in the Renaissance style; these include the Hotel Felzins, the Maison dePierre, and the Hotel d’Assezat et de Clemence -Isaure.