Arles Arena Exterior Arles France
Imagine munching on a baguette with cheese, sipping wine, and looking across the street at a Roman arena that is over 2,000 years old. For most Americans, something that old is difficult to comprehend. That's why God invented Provence!
Built in the first century BC, this arena is in remarkably good shape and still hosts bullfights, concerts and plays - but not all at the same time! It is just one of the many sights to see in Arles, so you could spend a couple of days wandering about, exploring side roads and inviting courtyards. And eating wonderful food!
If you were dropped into the middle of this arena blindfolded, then had the blindfolds removed, you w...
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France is affectionately referred to as "the Hexagon" for its overall shape.
French history goes back to the Gauls, a Celtic tribe which inhabited the area circa 300BC until being conquered by Julius Caesar.
The Franks were the first tribe to adopt Catholic Christianity after the Roman Empire collapsed. France became an independent location in the Treaty of Verdun in (843 AD), which divided up Charlemagne's Carolingian Empire into several portions.
The French monarchy reached its zenith during the reign of Louis XIV, the Sun King, who stood for seventy-two years as the Monarch of all Monarchs. His palace of Versailles and its Hall of Mirrors are a splendid treasure-trove of Baroque art.
The French Revolution ended the rule of the monarchy with the motto "Liberty, Equality, Fraternity!" On July 14th, 1789 angry mobs stormed La Bastille prison and began the Revolution in which Louis XVI, his wife Marie-Antoinette and thousands of others met the guillotine.
One decade after the revolution, Napolean Bonaparte seized control of the Republic and named himself Emperor. His armies conquered most of Europe and his Napoleonic Code became a lasting legal foundation for concepts of personal status and property.
During the period of colonization France controlled the largest empire in the world, second only to Britain.
France is one of the founding members of the European Union and the United Nations, as well as one of the nuclear armed nations of the world.
Text by Steve Smith.