UNESCO World Heritage-listed Arles is often called the ‘soul of Provence’, a photogenic city with a history stretching back 2,500 years and crammed with Roman remains; their extent indicate the importance of the city in Roman times – thanks to its position on the navigable River Rhône – and include an arena, theater and bath complexes. Arles fell from importance around 480 AD but by medieval times was once more a power to be reckoned with, as is proven by the city’s Romanesque masterpiece church of St-Trophime. The priceless collection of Roman artifacts discovered in the region are housed in the sleek, cobalt-blue triangular Museum of Antiquity, designed by Henri Ciriani and opened in 1995.
Among its treasures, the museum displays a large collection of antiquities, including monumental Roman sculptures, pagan and Christian art and several stunning mosaics.
At just 658 meters high, it might be surprising to learn that Pic St-Loup is one of the most beloved emblems of the city of Montpellier. After all, the Alps are not that far away. But thanks to low vegetation, impressive 300-meter-high cliffs, and a surrounding relief of just 150 meters, Pic St-Loup is very prominent and can be seen from just about everywhere in the Hérault department. It is, by definition, part of the lower end of Massif Central.
Because of its micro-climate and unique flora, the mountain is a protected site and houses a thriving population of prey birds. The mountain is a very popular day trip from Montpellier for both curious tourists and serious hikers; there is an old chapel, castle ruins, a hermitage, and a symbolic cross atop the mountain. Not to mention the unobstructed panoramas, which stretch all the way from the Mediterranean Sea to the south to the Cevennes Mountains to the north.