Enjoy a Roman-themed holiday in France for a mix of history, culture, and adventure. When Julius Caesar conquered Gaul in 59 BC, the influence of the Roman Empire reached as far west of the Mediterranean, including what we now know as France. They built beautiful structures that remain engineering marvels to this day. Rent a car and have a Roman road trip in France. Explore these cities that feature fascinating history, stunning architecture, and exciting adventure. What’s more, this trip could be done on a long weekend.
Roman Road Trip in France
Start your Roman road trip in France in beautiful Nîmes, referred to as French Rome. A Roman settlement for Julius Caesar’s veteran soldiers who fought in the Nile campaigns, it is easy to see why living here was a reward. Spring-like temperatures in winter and close proximity to the beach for summer fun makes this classical city an ideal destination year-round. At the heart of Nîmes is the best-preserved Roman amphitheater in the world – Les Arènes. This great architectural and cultural accomplishment was the stage for bloody gladiator combats and animal hunts. The rectangular Roman temple, Maison Carrée, and the Jardin de la Fontaine with its Roman ruins and beautiful hilltop views, are other Roman sites worth exploring.
Pont du Gard
Take your rental car and drive to Pont du Gard, a well-preserved three-tiered Roman aqueduct. Huge in scale, it was originally built to bring water from nearby Uzès to Nîmes. The aqueduct is now a major UNESCO listed attraction in France. Cross the adjacent road bridge on foot to admire the ancient aqueduct up close. Also, when visiting, pay attention to the 18th century vandalism etched on the stonework. The writings date back when it was used as a toll bridge.
There are several hiking trails near the bridge where you could marvel at this engineering feat. The site also hosts a museum and amazing views over the River Gard where you could swim on warm days. You could also rent kayaks and paddle under the aqueduct.
Time allotted: 1 day
Continue your Roman road trip in France and head to Orange where you’ll find the Théâtre Antique d’Orange, the most impressive amphitheater still existing in Europe. The theatre is only one of three still standing in its entirety in the world today and was designated a UNESCO World Heritage site. Designed to seat 10,000 spectators, it continues to be one of the premiere venues for musical and theatrical performances even to this day. Admission to the theatre also includes admission to the museum across the street. Friezes that formed part of the theater scenery and other Roman treasures are part of the collection. If you started and ended early, detour to the medieval village Châteauneuf-du-Pape and end your day with wine tasting.
Time Allotted: 1 day
What other Roman-influenced cities have you visited in France? Share your suggestions and your photos below.
Written by Lillibeth A. and edited by Iris A.