In the Vaucluse department, Vaison la Romaine enjoys a privileged location between the Rhône Valley and Mount Ventoux. A town of art and history, it is particularly well known for its exceptional archeological site. Excavations undertaken in 1924 led to the discovery of many ancient remains which led to the town being renamed “la Romaine,” or the Roman City.
The Ouvèze runs through the town which is spanned by the Roman bridge. On one side, you will see the medieval town crowned by the ruins of the 12th century feudal castle. Stroll through the narrow streets and admire the fortifications, the belfry, the cathedral, the ancient gates and the squares decorated with fountains.
On the other side of the river lies the largest archeological site in France: the ancient Roman ruins of Puymin and La Villasse. The Roman town has been cleared over nearly 15 hectares. You will be able to visit, alone or with a guide, the Roman theater which hosts, every year, cultural events such as the Vaison Danses Festival and the Choralies.
A stay in Vaison la Romaine will also be an opportunity to enjoy the exceptional natural sites in the surrounding area such as the Baronnies, the Dentelles de Montmirail and Mont Ventoux. The most athletic can try their hand at hiking, climbing, mountain biking or skiing in winter.
Take advantage of your stay to visit the surrounding communes such as Seguret or the village of Entrechaux.
The Roman theater of Vaison la Romaine reportedly dates back to the first century AD. It is estimated that the stage wall was 25 m high, 8 m deep and 23 m wide. In 1912 many sculptures, which are now kept in the Théo Desplans Museum, were discovered in the pits. The monument can accommodate 5,000 spectators seated on the bleachers. Classified as a historical monument, it is the setting for various shows such as those of the Vaison Danses Festival. The theater also hosts many concerts of the Choralies.
Théo Desplans Museum
The Théo Desplans Museum is located in the area of the remains of the Puymin hill. Various objects found on the city’s archeological sites are exhibited at the Théo Desplans Museum. They bear witness to the daily life of the Gallo-Romans. In the museum you will be able to see jewelry, ceramics, cult objects, funerary furniture as well as decorations: decorative elements, frescoes and the mosaic of the Villa du Paon (the House of the Peacock). The visit of the museum will also allow you to discover the imperial statues of Hadrian and Sabina found during the excavations undertaken in the Roman theater.
Vaison Cathedral was built in the 11th century in place of Paleo-Christian buildings. Ancient remains were used during its construction. It has a Provençal Romanesque style characterized by its vaults, arches and carved decoration. It preserves an octagonal dome on squinches that features the symbols of the four evangelists: the angel of Saint Matthew, the ox of Saint Luke, the eagle of Saint John and the lion of Saint Mark. The interior is decorated with a marble sarcophagus from the 4th century, a double-faced cross, etc.
Roman Ruins of Puymin
The visit of the ancient Roman ruins of Puymin takes you to one of the districts of the city and its paved streets. You will be able to admire the remains of beautiful patrician residences such as Maison d’Apollon Lauré (the House of the Laureled Apollo), Maison à la Tonnelle (the House with the Arbor), etc. The houses of the Roman period are vast, because they were inhabited by families of several generations as well as by the servants when there were some. Different paths will lead you to the Roman theater. The site offers children a real scavenger hunt to discover the richness of the archeological site. In the heart of the ancient site, you will find the Théo Desplans archeological museum.
Roman Ruins of La Villasse
The Roman ruins of La Villasse will make you discover the well-to-do and commercial district of the city. You will wander through Rue des Boutiques, the thermal baths and ponds and between houses such as Maison du Buste en Argent (the House of the Silver Bust), which covers more than 5,000 m² and has adjoining rooms, courtyards and gardens, or Maison au Dauphin (the Dolphin House), which was originally a modest and rustic house before becoming a comfortable town house. The city of Vasio has gone from a semi-rural world to a true Gallo-Roman town.
- Tourist Office of Vaison la Romaine: http://www.vaison-ventoux-tourisme.com/
- Road service: A7 Highway (from Valence or Aix-en-Provence), A9 Highway (from Nîmes)
- Air access: Nîmes Airport (1 hour), Marseille Provence Airport (1 hour and 30 minutes), Montpellier Méditerranée Airport (1 hour and 30 minutes)
- Railroad access: train station of Orange (30 minutes), TGV station of Avignon (1 hour)