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Sunday, February 24, 2013
Roman ruins in Provence around Saint Remy de Provence
The Roman in
Provence for old stones’ addicts.
of course the region in France where you’ll find most interesting roman ruins
since it was invaded before the rest of France.
known as “la Narbonnaise” seemed extremely
important to the romans (I believe they considered it as one of their
supermarket provider). And loads of former soldiers were given a plot of land
in the region when they retired.
of the ruins is that they are multiple and you get a different feeling in all
the places you’ll visit.
following is of course not exhaustive, will concentrate on the region around St
Remy/Avignon. And the comments are my own. I am passionate about history but
always prefer to present history as something fun and lively, so this is history
seen by me and not a teacher.
Arles should be your
The museum of Arles Antique is a brand modern museum which will
offer you the most precise idea of Roman life. It is built on the ruins of the
old circus (horse race arena).
models will show you how the city of Arles looked like at different periods and
you will get to see how the monuments really were. The rest of the visit will
show you daily life items found while researching (cookery, jewel and beauty
product, etc) as well as the lead pipe used as water pipes, floor “mosaïque” and
you’ll end up the visit in a graveyard with plenty of luxury coffins used by
the rich and famous to depict their life. I fell that the museum is kids’
friendly as well. Allow at least an hour. I could stay for a day myself….
Off to Arles centre (about 10/15mn walk)
and Pompée where having their political fights, Arles took side for César while
Marseille took side for César. So, when César won….. Arles got the biggest part
of the cake and became an extremely important city.
of Arles, compared to Avignon for example, is that the city was not entirely
destroyed after the Barbarians’ invasion and most of the major monuments were
kept. The arena for example was turned into a village with houses built inside.
It was only in the mid 19th century that the arena got back to its
former glory. (In Avignon, all the stone were used to build the Palaces of the
you have to see the Arena, the Theatre, The spa house (well a third of it), the
forum entrance. All buildings are located in the very centre. The graveyard
(Les Alyscamps) is located a short walk away.
2/3hrs to visit the centre (not considering shopping time or discovery of
history from other period which is galore)…. Well please have a look at the
Reattu Museum, former Prieuré of the Ordre de Malte built in the late XVth
allamans invaded ad destroyed Glanum its inhabitants decided to rebuilt the
village of St Remy further down in the Valley. Lucky us !
works of Glanum, when re-discovered, started in 1921. The road which was
passing right on the site was diverted and you can now enjoy a proper idea of “what
how a roman city looked like”. You may need to use your imagination since most
of the stone were taken away and reused to build the new village, but you’ll
get a clear idea of the dimension, the settings and the layout of a city.
from the Greek’s glory time can also be seen.
will lead you inside the forum, the spa house, the market square and a couple
of Private house (amongst other place). And you can finish in a roman
restaurant “La Taberna Romana” (owner currently changing) where you can taste
some roman dishes (or just look at the menu to see what was eaten in those
for the visit. Don’t forget a bottle of water and a cap. On sunny and warm day,
Vaison la Romaine (75km North of St Remy, about 1h10
reveals itself in the name. Probably one the jewel of roman ruins….
If you are
lucky enough to come in July, book yourself a seat in the antique theatre while
the Danse festival is on! Other shows are happening all year round and that is
an experience. Don’t forget to bring a jumper (it might get chilly when wind
starts blowing) and a cushion to seat on (no comment but stones are hard!).
roman sites give you a chance to wander through the villa side of the city.
Grand Mansion….. Visit a kichen, a dining room, a marbled floor private office,
get to a shopping street (where one of the house was believed to be an “easy
ladies” house…..), my favorite being the latrine of a private house. Those
toilets could admit 5 people at a time and was also opening onto the street
since the latrines were also considered as at chatting place….. well well!
of roman’s wonder. Not much to say but plenty to see…. The museum is also worth
a visit as depicting in a friendly way daily life in roman time. The Aqueduc is
just a part of the 50km long water-canal, bringing water from Uzes to nimes. This
is the second most visited site in France (outside of Paris) after the Mont
Saint Michel. So you won’t be on your own….
site is free but Car Park fees are of 18€. The site is open all year round with
Fireworks in June and music festival in Summer time.