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What to see and do in Vaison-la-Romaine, Provence

View over the roof tops of Vaison-la-Romaine with mountains in the distance under a blue sky

Vaison-la-Romaine lies at the foot of the Denetelles de Montmirail mountains in Provence. An ancient town once inhabited by the Romans, it was called Vaison until 1924 when it was renamed. The La Romaine part of the name is in homage to the number of Roman ruins uncovered in the early 20th century.

What to see in Vaison-la-Romaine

Cobbled street and medieval buildings, water troughs and vines growing up walls in Vaison-la-Romaine

Vaison-la-Romaine can be viewed as two separate towns. The lower, modern and more commercial town. And the upper old town across the Ouveze river. Both parts are worth exploring. Cobbled streets, art galleries, cafes, restaurants and Roman ruins – it’s just about perfect!

“Start your morning with a café crème and croissant at a local cafe in the “modern” part of town. Then take a tour of the exceptional Roman ruins. Unless your visit coincides with the peak tourist season, you are likely to have these ruins almost to yourself. It’s an extraordinary experience rarely replicated at other Roman sites of this stature and importance” says Martine Bertin-Peterson of Goût et Voyage culinary and cultural tours.

The Roman legacy

view over the vast and beautifully preserved Roman Theatre of Vaison-la-Romaine

The two “quarters” – Quartier de Puymin and Quartier de la Villasse will allow you to imagine life in the 1st century AD. The large urban dwelling, the house of Apollon Laure, was undoubtedly once the home of a very wealthy resident. It has an atrium, library, reception hall and private bath. The Quartier de la Villasse, with its colonnaded streets, shops and baths provides an intimate view of commercial and social life in the Roman era. Don’t miss the Peacock Villa with its wonderfully preserved mosaics. There’s a Roman theatre which puts on cultural events year round. You’ll also find ancient sites in amonst the cafés and restaurants.

Roman ruins in Vaison-la-Romaine

From the Quartier de la Villasse, cross the Roman bridge and climb to the Medieval upper town. “The walk is a bit strenuous but you’ll be rewarded by shady squares and picturesque, narrow streets. And, if you make it to the top, a breath-taking view of Mont Ventoux. It’s especially nice in the early Fall when the weather is mild and the surrounding wine-growing region hums with harvest activity” says Martine.

Plenty of activities

If you love to hike, cycle, climb rocks – you’ll love this area. There are several major events held here including a dance, soup and food festival. And don’t miss the lovely weekly market held every Tuesday!

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Martine Bertin-Peterson of Gout et Voyage, runs cultural and gourmet tours of Provence where you’ll make heart-warming memories and visit the most magical markets, villages and sites…

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