Côte d'Azur - The Via Julia

Arles amphitheatre
Arles amphitheatre
The interior of Arles amphitheatre
The interior of Arles amphitheatre
Villa Kerylos
Villa Kerylos
Church tympanum, Arles, Bouche-du-Rhône, France
Church tympanum, Arles, Bouche-du-Rhône, France
Barbegal aquaduct
Barbegal aquaduct
Nice Harbour
Nice Harbour
View the Marseille harbour from the old citadel
View the Marseille harbour from the old citadel
Aqueduc Romain de Barbegal. Fontvieille, Provence-Alpes-Cote d`Azur, France
Aqueduc Romain de Barbegal. Fontvieille, Provence-Alpes-Cote d`Azur, France

Enjoy a panoramic exploration of Roman and Gallic life in the majestic south of France. On the Mediterranean coastline lays a fascinating story along the road of ‘The Via Julia Augusta’. This ancient Roman road runs from Piacenza to Arles and we explore the numerous remains and surrounding ancient towns, which once relied on this beating vein to supply goods and trade.

This is an area budding with archaeological sites. On this tour discover provincial cities, stand before mighty monuments and uncover the stories of ancient life in this region - even discover one of the oldest Roman ports on the Mediterranean coast.

  • Follow the route forged by the Romans
  • Admire incredibly preserved ancient monuments
  • Soak up the Côte d’Azur’s truly beautiful scenery
  • Enjoy access to the Roman site of Albintimilium
  • Lose yourself in the culture & charm of towns we visit

Themes

  • Romans
  • Prehistory
  • Medieval
  • Historic Churches
  • Ancient Greek

Practicalities

  • Special Access
  • All Inclusive

Itinerary 2018

Day 1

We arrive in Marseille and transfer to our hotel in Arles. En-route we stop at the Museum of Antiquity. The museum is home to monumental Roman sculptures and an ancient Roman boat.

Day 2

We spend today in golden Arles, a city on the Rhône and one of the major power centres of Roman France. It became the capital of all Gaul in the 4th and 5th centuries AD and was the western terminus of the Via Julia Augusta. We visit well-preserved Roman monuments including the amphitheatre, theatre, the Church of St Trophime and an underground portico that once supported the forum.

Day 3

We begin our day at Barbegal a water-powered Roman mill with sixteen waterwheels fed by an aqueduct. We continue to the St Chamas Bridge which carried the Via Julia Augusta over the River Touloubre. After lunch, we step back into the Iron Age at the town of Entremont. This important pre-Roman settlement once held a shrine to the grisly Celtic cult of the severed head.

Day 4

This morning we take a stroll towards La Bourse Gardens. En-route we pass the ancient harbour and witness the local fishermen selling their fresh catch. We also explore the Marseille History Museum.

We continue to the Roman Docks Museum, a former shipping warehouse which houses many ancient artefacts. We enjoy lunch as a group and then have the rest of the afternoon at leisure, perhaps a perfect time for shopping or to relax by the harbour.

Day 5

This morning we enjoy a lovely drive east along the coast to the pretty town of Fréjus. Formerly Forum Julii, this small town was one of Caesar’s colonies. Agricola, the Roman general responsible for much of the conquest of northern England, was born here. Before lunch, we visit the aqueduct, amphitheatre and the Gate of Gauls.

This afternoon we have a talk by local specialists who take us to see many excellent  remains here, including the Roman fishponds and Cathedral. After, we travel to the elegant city of Nice where we will check into our next hotel and enjoy dinner as a group.

Day 6

We drive to Ventimiglia where we discover the rock shelters of Balzi Rossi, a site with some very early evidence of man’s occupation in the region. Next, we have arranged access to the Roman site of Albintimilium, introduced by local archaeologists.

We enjoy lunch a leisurely in the centre of Ventimiglia, immersing ourselves in traditional French cuisine. This afternoon we visit Forte dell'Annunziata Archaeology Museum, which is dedicated to Girolamo Rossi. He was a great scholar who lived between the 19th and the 20th centuries, and was also a great protagonist of Western Ligurian archaeology.

Day 7

On our final morning we head for Cimiez and discover its archaeological zone. The ruins here include an amphitheatre, theatre and Roman baths. 

We continue to Beaulieu-sur-Mer and the recreated Greek Villa Kerylos beautifully set overlooking the sea. We ascend to the Trophée des Alpes, the highest point on the Via Julia Augusta, marked by Augustus’ monument celebrating the conquest of the mountain tribes, to view this extraordinary monument overlooking Monaco.

We fly home this evening.

Itinerary 2019

Day 1

We depart from London and upon arrival in Marseille, we transfer to our hotel in the Medieval centre of Arles. In a city with an abundance of ancient architecture, it is hard to know where to start first, but after lunch we visit the Musée de l’Arles et de la Provence Antiques, which contains one of the best collections of Roman material from southern France.

Day 2

We spend today in golden Arles, a city on the Rhône and one of the major power centres of Roman France. It became the capital of all Gaul in the 4th and 5th centuries AD and was the western terminus of the Via Julia Augusta. We visit well-preserved Roman monuments including the amphitheatre, theatre, the Church of St Trophime  and a cryptoporticus, once the foundation for the forum.

After a pause for lunch, we continue on to visit the city walls and the Alyscamps Necropolis, just one of the subjects in Arles painted by Van Gogh during his stay there in 1888.

Day 3

Leaving Arles, we travel to Barbégal, a mill complex with sixteen water-wheels fed by an aqueduct – the largest concentration of mechanical power in the Roman Empire. We then continue to the St. Chamas Bridge, which carried the Via Julia Augusta over the River Touloubre.

After lunch in Aix-en-Provence, we visit the impressive remains of the Gallic town of Entremont, high in the picturesque mountains. This important pre-Roman settlement once held a shrine to the grisly Celtic cult of the severed head.

Day 4

Today is spent in Marseille, once the ancient city of Massalia. The remains of the Greek and Roman town defences and docks are still visible to explore. We also visit the Musée de Marseilles, with its impressive collection of Greek, Gallic and Roman material.

Following lunch in the harbour area, there’s an optional boat trip along the coast, alternatively, the afternoon is yours to further explore the city.

Day 5

We travel to see the Roman and Merovingian remains at Port Fréjus. Formerly Forum Julii, this small town was one of Caesar’s colonies. Agricola, the Roman general responsible for much of the conquest of northern England. Here we visit the aqueduct, amphitheatre and the Gate of the Gauls.

After lunch, we have arranged special access to see the recently discovered Roman fresh water cisterns and fishponds, accompanied by our knowledgeable local guide. We then continue our journey to our hotel in the heart of the old town of Nice.

Day 6

Heading east along the Via Julia Augusta towards Italy, we visit the Balzi Rossi caves – a chance to view some prehistoric material - and then on to the site of Roman Albintimilium, modern Ventimiglia. The ancient site has only recently been discovered, with graves unearthed and an amphitheatre still under excavation.

After lunch in the town, we then visit Forte dell’Annunziata Archaeology Museum, which is dedicated to Girolamo Rossi. He was a great scholar who lived between the 19th and the 20th centuries, and was also a great protagonist of Western Ligurian archaeology.

Out final dinner will be located in the old town of Nice.

Day 7

A morning departure to Beaulieu-sur-Mer, where we visit the spectacular Villa Kerylos, beautifully set overlooking the sea. We ascend to the Trophée des Alpes, the highest point on the Via Julia Augusta, marked by Augustus’ monument celebrating the conquest of the mountain tribes, to view this extraordinary monument overlooking Monaco.

On leaving the Villa, we take lunch in Beaulieu, before our transfer to Nice airport for our journey home.

What's Included

  1. Expert Guide Lecturer
  2. Tour Manager
  3. Local Travel - Private a/c coach
  4. Meals - All meals included with wine at dinner
  5. Entries & Tips - Entry to all sites in programme; tips included
  6. Field Notes
  7. Hotels
  8. Flights

Travel Information

For full information about Passport validity and Visa requirements as well as Health and Vaccination information please click here.

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2019 Tour Details

Sat 30th March - Fri 5th April

Available

Guaranteed Departure

£2,299

inc.

sgl supp: £335

VJA19A

Led By: John Shepherd

Guide Lecturer

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