Known as the City of Princes, Orange is home to what is considered to be the best-preserved Roman theater in all of Europe. Built between AD 10 and 25, the theater played host to musical and theatrical productions designed to spread the Roman culture throughout the colonies, but to also distract the public–particularly from the political goings-on of the time. The impressive 130-meter/426-foot long façade still provides excellent acoustics. No shouting required.
But creating such amazing acoustics required following strict guidelines such as: the slope of the hill had to be constant, the heights of the portico and the stage wall had to match, and clay vases had to be positioned onstage with their open mouths facing the audience to project the actors’ voices across the vast theater.
These walls have seen so much history as not only as a theater, but a defensive post (Middle Ages), a refuge for the locals (16th century), and a prison during the French Revolution, all this after being closed in the 4th c. by official edict from the Church, then looted and sacked in the 5th. I highly recommend renting the informative headset to guide you through the fascinating story of the theater. The kids found the history lesson interesting enough that not a single whine of boredom was heard from any of them. Definitely worth the price of admission.
The modern city of Orange surrounds the remains. Situated about half an hour’s drive north of Avignon, the city and theater play host to an annual music festival dating back to the 19c. called Chorégies, a reference to the culture tax imposed on the wealthy residents of Roman times when admission to stage productions was “free”.
We opted for a delightful Provençal lunch at this restaurant across the street. Chef Cedric Bremond creates delicious little marvels, especially for the price and the service is very friendly. Traditional 3-course menus are priced from 21 to 27 euros plus wine.
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Have a great week!