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"Savour Orange's outstanding Roman antiquity" Top 5 Page for this destination Orange by CatherineReichardt

Orange Travel Guide: 48 reviews and 135 photos

Why the enchanting World Heritage-listed town of Orange doesn’t attract more attention is quite beyond me, because it has it all: lovely architecture, a unique Roman heritage in a state of preservation unparalleled in Europe, links to Crusader history and bags of understated charm all bathed in that incomparable Provençal light.

Orange is overshadowed by its proximity to other major tourist centres - notable Avignon and Nîmes - and given the number of extraordinary things to do that are packed into this little corner of France, it’s not surprising that it would often get overlooked. But if you’re looking for the perfect day trip from either city, without the crowds that gravitate towards gorgeous Pont du Gard (the other logical contender), then you need look no further than Orange.

Orange was founded as the Roman town of Colonia Julia Firma Secundanorum Arausio ("the Julian colony of Arausio established by the soldiers of the second legion") - usually called Arausio for obvious reasons.

Its major claim to fame is its stupendous Roman theatre - whose stonking great 9,000 seater capacity indicates what a populous place it must have been - which would make it well worth a visit even if the town didn’t have anything more to offer. Southern Europe is sprinkled with Roman theatres in varying states of repair, but what is so extraordinary about the one in Orange is that the stage wall is still completely intact (a distinction it shares with only two others, one of which is in Turkey, and the other in Syria). I had long wondered how the audience kept their attention on the stage when they were gazing past the actors into the middle distance beyond, and to experience a Roman theatre the way it would have been when it was operational was an utterly difference – and altogether more atmospheric - experience. It also boasts its own Arc De Triomphe which further serves to underline that whilst Orange may be a fairly small town today, it was certainly far more significant in Roman times.

For those who quail at the mere prospect of the crowds and in-season prices in Avignon, Orange offers a practical and cost effective alternative as a base from which to explore this region, even if you don’t have a car at your disposal. The rail link to Avignon takes less than half an hour (and the bus only an hour, at a third of the cost of the train) and whatever mode of transport you opt for, you will be deposited painlessly right by Avignon’s city walls. The only slight downside to this is that you will need to factor in is that the buses stop running fairly early, so if you’re planning to stay until evening in Avignon, you’ll have to return by train.

For other attractions in the area, follow these links:

My Avignon page (including Pont du Gard)
My Villeneuve-lès-Avignon page

Pros and Cons
  • Pros:Extraordinarily historic and comparatively untouristed compared to neighbouring towns
  • Cons:As ever, we just didn't have enough time to do this lovely town justice
  • In a nutshell:Roman Provence without the crowds - don't miss it!
  • Last visit to Orange: Sep 2011
  • Intro Updated May 9, 2016
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Reviews (11)

Comments (6)

  • Aunt_Bertha's Profile Photo
    Aug 30, 2013 at 12:42 AM

    Been there - done that! ;-) I enjoyed reading about your Orange viewpoints. Actually, I'm glad that this town doesn't attract more attention a.k.a. tourists, so it was a nice and relaxing place to discover and walk around.

    • CatherineReichardt's Profile Photo
      Aug 30, 2013 at 12:57 AM

      Yup, that's always the moral dilemma of writing up those overlooked gems, isn't it?

    • Aunt_Bertha's Profile Photo
      Aug 30, 2013 at 1:05 AM

      You're right. That's why sometimes I don't and I keep the real top secret places...well, top secret ;-)

  • breughel's Profile Photo
    Aug 3, 2012 at 5:39 AM

    An initiation to the Roman Empire and culture for our children (more than 30 years ago!)

  • Dabs's Profile Photo
    Apr 22, 2012 at 8:44 AM

    There is so much to see in this area, I do hope that we will have time to see Orange!

  • ettiewyn's Profile Photo
    Nov 23, 2011 at 8:38 AM

    Hi Cathy, what a fantastic page! I discovered it because of the Tip of the Day and am glad I did. What a pity that such an interesting place is so undervisited! It is now on my (already very loooooong) To Do List :-) You have explained everything so well! And it really looks as if staying in Orange is a good alternative to staying in Avignon.

  • mustertal's Profile Photo
    Nov 16, 2011 at 11:44 AM

    Tip of the day, and well deserved,this part of France is so full of history.I've yet to visit Orange.

  • giampiero6's Profile Photo
    Nov 10, 2011 at 5:08 PM

    Congratulations on tip of the day on this page :)


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