Way back around 50 B.C., Julius Caesar conquered Gaul (now France), and the area remained part of the Roman Empire for centuries. As a result, Roman ruins are all over France, but the best ones are in and around Provence. In fact, ‘Provence’ comes from the Latin ‘Provincia Romana,’ the name of the large Roman province along the Mediterranean coast.
For history buffs or anyone who would like to see some amazing sights, Provence is a wonderland. It has Roman arenas and amphitheatres, aqueducts and bridges, and ruins galore.
With all this to visit, where do you start?
If you have a limited appetite for Roman history, you might want to visit just Nîmes or Arles, as they each have plenty of Roman highlights. But don’t visit both, as their major sights are similar. I’ve written a comparison of the two cities, so you can decide with one is best for you.
Read all about it in Perfectly Provence!
Just west of Provence, across the mighty Rhône River, lays the Gard Department of France. Gard and Provence share a deep Roman history, from the days when both were part of the Roman region of Gallia.
Because it is so close to Provence, a visit to Gard makes for a nice day trip from Avignon or St-Rémy-de-Provence or wherever you might be staying. And one of the highlights of a visit is the city of Nîmes, once called Nemauses and known as “the most Roman city outside of Italy.” Emperor Augustus made Nemauses his local capital and today Nîmes is filled with sites and monuments that make it a must-see for any lover of Roman history.
Read all about it at Perfectly Provence!
For lovers of Roman history, the city of Nîmes in southern France is a must-see. It was once a major metropolis in Roman Gaul and today boasts a plethora of important sites: there’s the beautiful Maison Carré temple that Thomas Jefferson used it as a model for the Virginia state capital building, a large and well-preserved amphitheater, a massive Roman guard tower, and more.
There are plenty of reasons to visit Nîmes and now here’s another: the Museum of Romanity that opened in 2018. This museum exhibits thousands of fascinating artifacts and covers over 2,500 years of life in the city. And it’s great for kids as well as adults.
Val and I visited it a few weeks ago and had a great time. You can read my report on this terrific museum in France Today.