Roman Ruins in Provence
The Roman Empire left its architectural footprint throughout the south of France, and today you can travel extensively through Provence simply by following its trail. Here are a few places to step back in time and discover Roman ruins in Provence.
During the 14th century, Avignon was the center of the Roman Catholic world and the seat of papal authority. The UNESCO World Heritage–listed Palais des Papes and the famous Pont d’Avignon (Avignon Bridge) are among Avignon’s top attractions, but most of the Roman ruins have been lost to time. That said, the city remains a very popular base for history-hunters in Provence.
Pont du Gard
Spanning the Gardon River, the mighty Pont du Gard ranks among Provence’s most important Roman structures. This UNESCO–listed treasure is the tallest Roman aqueduct in the world, and also one of the best preserved. Visitors can cross the lower level of the aqueduct on foot, kayak in the waterway, and picnic on the riverbank.
The ancient city of Nîmes is home to many of the best-preserved Roman monuments in France, with sites of interest dating back as far as the fourth century BC. Highlights include the Maison Carrée—a temple built in the 16th century BC by Marcus Vipsanius Agrippa—and Nîmes Arena, an imposing amphitheater showcasing the power and prestige of Rome.
Home to UNESCO–listed sites including the Triumphal Arch and the amphitheater, the Roman town of Orange is rich in history. The local museum houses some of the largest Roman maps ever found—covering Montélimar, Nîmes, and Orange—and sheds light on centuries of exploration.
The medieval village of Les Baux-de-Provence sits on a rocky clifftop more than 800 feet (244 meters) high. A popular destination for hikers, Les Baux-de-Provence is also a great place to come for Roman history. Admire the ancient architecture, then browse the bustling markets for perfume and olive oils the way the locals have for thousands of years.