Vaison la Romaine
This nearby city has so much to offer. As we walk into the village you will see that it is market day. Enter via avenue General du Gaulle and a few blocks in you will see the Office of Tourism on your left. Right at the Office du Tourism you will see the Puymin Roman site (pictured here). You can enter the actual Roman excavation site for a nominal fee. It was part of an authentic ancient Roman city with paved streets, a shopping district, the “nymphee” irrigation system with it’s reservoirs and a complete house including dining room, kitchen, private baths, lavatories and peristyle. You can see much of this from the street as well without entering the site if you decide to divide your time here between this, the market and the Medieval part of the city on the hill.
The market offers a wide range of goods. Fruits, vegetables, cheeses, meats, crafts, textiles as well as common goods (like a hardware store), used clothing (2E for each piece) and often around the "place" or plaza there will be live music. (Follow your ears). My favorite fabric vendors are also at this market.
If you want to see an exceptional collection of marble statues, many household objects of the Gallo-Romans, decorative elements, ceramics, jewelry and frescos to give you a glimpse into the splendor of the domestic interiors and decorations of the Roman dwellings here, you may want to visit the Théo Desplans Archaeological Museum. This air conditioned building also shows a film about the “Dolphin House” a 3-D reconstruction that takes you through the different spaces that made up a “Domus” (homes occupied by the upper class in Roman period. Explore at your own pace with multilingual video-guides.
If you continue down the avenue General du Gaulle you will come to the Ouveze river and the Roman Bridge constructed back in the 1st century AD. It is one of the rare bridges from antiquity still in use today! (Note the markings from the flood in the 90’s when you look down as you cross.
On the other side of the highway continue on to the upper village with picturesque old winding streets dotted with ancient mansions and small squares with public fountains. You can follow a trail up to the Count’s Castle, a landmark seen easily from the village. It was originally a wooden tower built in 1185 to demonstrate the power of Raymond VI the count of Toulouse and was then transformed during the 13th century into a fortified building composed of 3 blocks. In 1274 if fell into Papal possession until 1791. From the grounds of the castle (you can no longer enter) you get a magnificent view.
During the second half of the 12th century, the town was pillaged on the orders of the Count of Toulouse because of a disagreement with the Bishop about respective possessions. These let the population to gradually abandon the medieval town situated in the valley to find protection here in the high rocks on the left back near the Count’s Castle. During the 16th and 17th centuries buildings sprang up in the valley alongside the Roman bridge, but it was in the 19th century due to urban development the population migrated towards the lower town, on the site of the Gallo-Roman city.