Top-Rated Tourist Attractions in Orange, France
Roman TheatreOrange lies in the Lower Rhône Valley, its fertile alluvial lands being used for intensive fruit and vegetable cultivation.
The town is famous above all for its famous buildings dating from the Roman era.The Rhône flows past, about 6km/4mi distant from the town, at the point where the River Aigues flows into it. The expressway coming from the north divides near the town into two branches, one in the direction of Marseilles and the other in the direction of Nîmes.It was in front of the walls of Orange, or as it was known in ancient times, Arausio, that the first encounter took place between the Roman army and the Cimbri and Teutons - an encounter in which 100,000 Romans lost their lives. Three years later Marius carried out the counter-attack at Aix. In the period of the ensuing "Pax romana", Orange had four times as many inhabitants as it has today. Later it was to become the capital of the tiny princedom of Orange and in 1531 came under the control of the Dutch House of Nassau. For this reason the Queen of the Netherlands even to this day carries the title of Princess of Orange-Nassau. In 1713 Orange was ceded to France under the Treaty of Utrecht.
The Roman Theater, in the south of the Inner City, is the best preserved and one of the finest of antiquities. It was set up at the beginning of the Imperial era (A.D. first century), but was probably renewed in the next century. With its back wall, composed of massive stone blocks, several stories high, towering over every other building to a height of 38m/125ft and a width of 103m/338ft, with some of the rich decorations still intact, and its circles and tiers of stepped seats, supported against the hillside, providing seating for 7,000 people, it gives a good idea of a Roman theatrical auditorium. As the only Roman theater, Orange has retained the statue of the Emperor Augustus; it is 3.55m/11.5ft in size.
Address: Place du Théâtre, F-84100 Orange, France
In Orange, during the summer months, festival performances take place in the Roman Theater, the "Chorégies d'Orange" (concerts, operas), generally with above average attendance. The exceptional acoustics of the building contribute greatly to their success. The overall impression of the auditorium and stage is only marginally affected by the technical installations.This festival includes a series of about five performances in July and early August. The events include operas, as well as symphonic and choral concerts and brings in major artists from around the world.
Address: BP 180, F-84105 Orange, France
In Orange, adjoining the Roman theater on the west are the ruins of a great Roman temple which was situated at the end of a 400m/438yd long stadium. Directly opposite is the interesting Musée Municipal (Town Museum), which contains antique fragments and can furnish information about the architecture and techniques of the Roman theater.
Colline St Eutrope
Above the Roman Theater to the south a beautiful park has been laid out on the Colline St Eutrope; from its northern side there is a wonderful view of the theater auditorium and the town of Orange, the whole way across towards Mont Ventoux.
The Old Town of Orange lies to the north of the Roman Theater. In Place Clemenceau stands the Hôtel de Ville (Town Hall), dating from 1671, and nearby the Cathedral of Notre-Dame (1083-1126) which was severely damaged during the Wars of Religion.
Triumphal ArchThe arterial road, which leaves Orange in a northerly direction leads to the Arc de Triomphe (Triumphal Arch), situated outside the town and sited on a circular space framed by plane trees. It was erected after Caesar's victory in 49 B.C. In spite of severe weathering it is the finest of its kind in France. Three arches with coffered vaulting form the gateways. Once there were a bronze Quadriga (four-horse chariot) and four statues on the top, while there is a representation of a Gallic battle on the frieze; below on either side are trophies from Gallic vessels.
At Sérignan-du-Comtat, 8km/5mi to the north of Orange (on the N7 and the D976; then right at the entrance to the village), the biologist and ethologist J.-H. Fabre retired to his "Harmas" estate, where he lived and researched for 36 years in almost total seclusion. The house has been turned into a museum and the study and a room with drawings and water-colors can be visited. The statue of Fabre on the market square in Sérignan shows him with his most important tool, his magnifying glass.
The nuclear research center of Marcoule lies in the west opposite Orange on the right bank of the Rhône.
Address: CEA centre de Valrhô, Box 17171, F-30207 Bagnols-sur-Ceze, France
The extensive complex of this nuclear research center at Marcoule, where 2,200 people are employed, is situated right by the river, the water of which is used for cooling the reactors. The principal task of the center is, however, not the production of electrical energy but nuclear research and the obtaining of radio-active substances for medicine, science and industry, of tritium for military purposes and of nuclear fuel (plutonium) for power stations. For this purpose the reactor "Phénix", the first fast breeder in the world, on the edge of the area, was started up in 1973. In Marcoule the fuels from French and Spanish gas-graphite reactors are also reprocessed.
Belvédère de Marcoule
The best view of Marcoule is from the Belvédère (observation point) which is reached along a private road. A large panoramic display gives a general view of the complex; an exhibit of the layout, working of nuclear power stations and uranium enrichment are explained and the atomic industry of France is documented.
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