Wednesday, January 05, 2011

St Remy de Provence and the Ancient Town of Glanum

Staying in St Remy was a luxury - it was relaxing and gave us a chance to feel part of the village.
The café near the square would become our local resting spot at the end of each day. As mentioned previously, St Remy had a population of around 11,000 and was the perfect sized village in our opinion. It suited the style of holiday village that we like. People are friendly to you as you become more a part of their day, especially when every morning you wander up to buy your baguette and croissants for breakfast. We had a Boulanger across the road from our villa.
St Remy also had some good local historical sights and close to many in the outlining areas. A week gave us the opportunity to travel each day sightseeing but the two most interesting places were at our doorstep.
It was my morning ride that I passed these two amazing structures to the right of me. I had to stop to take a photo and as I read the description I discovered that to the other side of the road was the ancient town of Glanum. Only two kilometres out of St Remy and set in a small valley, the town was only discovered in the 1920s. I raced home for breakfast and to tell Sue of “my” discovery. There would be more of these discoveries on my morning rides that I would share with Sue later.

Glanum was situated at the opening of a small gorge with a spring feeding water through the town. The spring served many purposes for the inhabitants. It gave life to the town and it was dedicated to the god “Glan”.

The ancient Gallo-Roman town of Glanum with the Alpilles range on the horizon.

Looking down the valley from where the spring brought life to Glanum.

This map give a similar view from the picture above.

From Wikipedia - (It describes Glanum much better than I can)The city, founded by Celto-Ligurians and subsequently Hellenised as Glanon, was already old when it became a Romanised settlement in the first century BC; a shrine to the Celtic god Glanis (glann, "shining"), who was associated with a local healing spring, had been erected on the site in the fourth century BC. The Romans adopted the shrine and the divinity, naming the town after Glanis, and also adopted a triad of local mother-gods, similar to the Matres, whom they termed the Glanicae. The gods Epona, Mercury and Rosmerta were also represented there. The Augustan age saw the city elevated to the status of colonia, and many monumental buildings were erected, including an enlarged forum, baths, a triumphal arch, and various temples (some of which were erected by Augustus' general and son-in-law Agrippa).

Glanum was destroyed by the Alamanni in 260 and was subsequently abandoned, its inhabitants moving a few miles north into the plain to found a city that later was named Saint-Rémy-de-Provence. Glanum was not excavated until 1921, but has since become one of the most important Roman excavations in France.

Up until 1921, the town had been covered by silt and was actually covered by an olive grove. During Van Gogh’s time in St Remy (another story for later) he painted many olive trees and olive groves. One may have been on the very site of Glanum.

One in particular shows the outline of the Alpilles mountain range with a distinguishing feature that can be seen today as you stand where Vincent painted the scene.

Olive Grove painted by Van Gogh - I stood at this very spot and could see the same scene or the Alpilles range on the horizon.
I wondered if this was the spot where some of Glanum was lying below the Olive Grove.

Glanum will always be a highlight of our stay in St Remy.

Footnote - Unfortunately, I've lost several of our photos of our time in St Remy and have used ones on the web to illustrate our time there.


  1. It amazes me how many Gallo-Roman remains there are around in France. The local ones close to us which I have written about at Chassenon, are just getting bigger and bigger as they find more and more during excavations.
    Happy New Year to you. Diane

  2. Happy New Year to you also Diane - these places interest me a great deal - where can I read about the ones that you know of in Chassenon?

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