Prehistoric and archaeological sites in France

Roman Theatre

The Roman theatre in Vienne was built around 40-50 AD and is considered to be one of the largest theatres in Roman Antiquity with a capacity of 11500 seats and a diameter of 130 metres. In the 2nd century it was double sized by a second smaller theater, the odeon, which was built nearby on the southern slope of the ravine of Saint-Marcel. The annual Vienne Jazz Festival has been held on the ancient theatre since 1980. 
Founded: 40-50 AD | Location: Vienne, France

Alyscamps Necropolis

The Alyscamps is a large Roman necropolis, one of the most famous necropolises of the ancient world. Roman cities traditionally forbade burials within the city limits. It was therefore common for the roads immediately outside a city to be lined with tombs and mausoleums; the Appian Way outside Rome provides a good example. The Alyscamps was Arles' main burial ground for nearly 1,500 years. It was the final segment of the ...
Founded: 300-400 AD | Location: Arles, France

Archeological Garden of Cybèle

Jardin de Cybèle park presents the complicated remains of a portion of the Gallo-Roman city including the arcades of the forum portico, the wall of a municipal assembly hall, and houses and terraces.
Founded: 27 BC | Location: Vienne, France

Tropaeum Alpium

The Tropaeum Alpium ('Victory Monument of the Alps'), was built by the Romans for the emperor Augustus to celebrate his decisive victory over the ancient tribes who populated the Alps. The monument"s remains are in the commune of La Turbie, a few kilometers from the Principality of Monaco. The Trophy was built c. 6 BC in honor of the emperor Augustus to celebrate his definitive victory over ...
Founded: 6 BC | Location: La Turbie, France

Théâtre Antique

Théâtre Antique is a Roman age a mphitheatre in Vaison-la-Romaine, near other significant Roman ruins. It was built around the year 20 AD, due to the marble statue of the Emperor Tiberius was found in front of the royal entrance to the Theatre. It is thought that the stage wall came to 25 meters high, with a depth of 8 meters and a width of 23 meters. In 1912, many sculptures were found in the twelve pits which had been ...
Founded: 20 AD | Location: Vaison-la-Romaine, France

La Villasse

The Roman ruins of Vaison-la-Romaine are among some of the most important in France. Easily accessible, the two main sites that are open to the public - Puymin and La Villasse - can be found in the town centre. At la Villasse there is a Roman street leading to more baths, and the Maison au Buste d’Argent, an impressive villa with mosaic floors and its own baths.
Founded: 0-100 AD | Location: Vaison-la-Romaine, France

Saint-Romain-en-Gal

On the border of the Rhône river, the archaeological site of Saint-Romain-en-Gal is home to the Gallo-Roman remains of an ancient district of Vienne. Its museum recounts the ancient history of Vienne and boasts a magnificent collection of mosaics. Saint-Romain-en-Gal is one of the largest Gallo-Roman sites in France. The classified site contains more than 3 hectares, where are located the remains of residential and ...
Founded: 0-300 AD | Location: Vienne, France

Filitosa

Filitosa is a megalithic site in southern Corsica, France. The period of occupation spans from the end of the Neolithic era and the beginning of the Bronze Age, until around the Roman times in Corsica. The site was discovered in 1946 by the owner of the land, Charles-Antoine Cesari. Finds of arrow heads and pottery date earliest inhabitation to 3300 BC. Around 1500 BC, 2-3 metre menhirs were erected. They hav ...
Founded: 3300 BCE | Location: Sollacaro, France

Locmariaquer Megaliths

The Locmariaquer megaliths are a complex of Neolithic constructions. They comprise the elaborate Er-Grah tumulus passage grave, a dolmen known as the 'Table des Marchand' (Merchant"s Table) and 'The Broken Menhir of Er Grah', the largest known single block of stone to have been transported and erected by Neolithic man. The Broken Menhir of Er Grah was erected around 4700 BC, at the same time as a ...
Founded: 4700 BC | Location: Locmariaquer, France

Barnenez Cairn

The Cairn of Barnenez is the largest Megalithic mausoleum in Europe. It dates from the early Neolithic Age is considered one of the earliest megalithic monuments in Europe. It is also remarkable for the presence of megalithic art. Radiocarbon dates indicate that the first phase of the monument was erected between 4850 and 4250 BC, and the second phase between 4450 and 4000 BC. Pottery found in and around the monument indi ...
Founded: 4850 - 4000 BC | Location: Plouezoc'h, France

Lumone Tomb

Lumone Tomb is the only remaining vestige of the Roman way station Lumone. The front is in three vaulted arches and traces of fresco decoration are still visible. The tomb was built in the 1st century AD as a way station at the junction of the Via Aurelia and the Via Julia Augusta, and forms part of the Via Julia Augusta archaeological trail.
Founded: 0-100 AD | Location: Roquebrune-Cap-Martin, France

Fréjus Roman Amphitheatre

Fréjus Roman Amphitheatre was built at the end of the 1st century AD. This structure, made of small tiles of local green sandstone, could accommodate up to 10,000 spectators. It most likely hosted gladiator fights and wild beast hunts. Today, this building comes to life every summer: large concerts, dancefloors and various performances form a rich and diverse program.
Founded: 0-100 AD | Location: Fréjus, France

Kerzerho Megaliths

There are 195 megaliths in Kerzerho, aligned east to west. They extend over 200 metres in 5 rows. Dating from between 5,000 to 2,000 BC, they have of course suffered over the years. In fact only a few centuries ago there were 1130 stones in 11 rows: the structure must have been 2 kilometres long by 65 metres wide.
Founded: 5000 - 2000 BC | Location: Erdeven, France

Roman Bridge

The Roman Bridge at Saint-Thibéry was segmental arch bridge on the Via Domitia in southern France. The structure is dated to the reign of emperor Augustus (30 BC – 14 AD). The ancient bridge had nine arches with spans of 10–12 m. The roadway rested on wide piers, which were protected on both sides by arched floodways and large cutwaters. The original length of the structure is estimated as 150 m, its ro ...
Founded: 30 BC to 14 AD | Location: Saint-Thibéry, France

Oppidum d'Ensérune

The Oppidum d"Ensérune is an ancient hill-town (or oppidum) near the village of Nissan-lez-Ensérune. The settlement was occupied without interruption between the 6th century BC and 1st century AD, its location being chosen presumably because it was a hill with good views over the coastal plain, being close to the Roman road Via Domitia, the Montady lake, and fertile agricultural land below. There is a museum on ...
Founded: 6th century BCE | Location: Nissan-lez-Enserune, France

Roman Pyramid

The Roman Pyramid in Vienne is an emblematic building of the architectural heritage of the city together with the Roman Theatre. It is an unique remain of a Roman circus, where racing took place. The pyramid was the central building of the Roman 'circus maximus'. The 25 meters high obelisk stood in the center of the sand track. Its location on an axial platform (Spina) was confirmed by excavations in the nineteenth an ...
Founded: 100-200 AD | Location: Vienne, France

Champ-Dolent Menhir

The menhir, or upright standing stone, of Champ Dolent is the largest standing stone in Brittany. It is located in a field outside the town of Dol-de-Bretagne, and is nearly 9 meters high. The stone was taken from a site 4 kilometers away. It has a smaller polished stone at its base. It is not precisely dated, but recent scholarship suggests that Brittany's menhirs were erected c. 5000-4000 BC. According to legend, the ...
Founded: 5000-4000 BCE | Location: Dol-de-Bretagne, France

Crucuno Dolmen

Crucuno dolmen is one of the most well known dolmens in the Brittany. The rectangular chamber is about 4 metres by 3.5 metres, covered by a single massive capstone which measures over 7 metres in length, perched on top of 9 support stones, with easily enough room to stand upright inside. The enormous capstone is 7.6 metres in length and weighs about 40 tons. Unfortunately, a century or so ago, a house was built right next ...
Founded: | Location: Plouharnel, France

Gennes Amphitheatre

Remains of the Gallo-Roman amphitheatre date from the 2th century AD. The venue built for gladiator and huntings shows had originally seats for 5000 spectators.
Founded: 2nd century AD | Location: Gennes, France

Séviac Gallo-Roman Villa

Set on a hilltop surrounded by vineyards and cypresses, the Gallo-Roman villa of Séviac was a luxurious residence, spread over almost 6500m2. It is today one of the largest Gallo-Roman villas known in the south-west of France. The villa was built in the 2nd century AD and reconstructed in the 3rd and 4th centuries. Later in the 8th and 9th centuries the place was used for a church, burials and necropolis. The villa is ...
Founded: 2nd century AD | Location: Séviac, France

Featured Historic Landmarks, Sites & Buildings

Historic Site of the week

Abbey of Saint-Étienne

The Abbey of Saint-Etienne, also known as Abbaye aux Hommes ('Men"s Abbey'), is a former monastery dedicated to Saint Stephen (Saint Étienne). It is considered, along with the neighbouring Abbaye aux Dames ('Ladies" Abbey'), to be one of the most notable Romanesque buildings in Normandy. Like all the major abbeys in Normandy, it was Benedictine.

Lanfranc, before being an Archbishop of Canterbury, was abbot of Saint-Etienne. Built in Caen stone during the 11th century, the two semi-completed churches stood for many decades in competition. An important feature added to both churches in about 1120 was the ribbed vault, used for the first time in France. The two abbey churches are considered forerunners of the Gothic architecture. The original Romanesque apse was replaced in 1166 by an early Gothic chevet, complete with rosette windows and flying buttresses. Nine towers and spires were added in the 13th century. The interior vaulting shows a similar progression, beginning with early sexpartite vaulting (using circular ribs) in the nave and progressing to quadipartite vaults (using pointed ribs) in the sanctuary.

The two monasteries were finally donated by William the Conqueror and his wife, Matilda of Flanders, as penalty for their marriage against the Pope"s ruling. William was buried here; Matilda was buried in the Abbaye aux Dames. Unfortunately William"s original tombstone of black marble, the same kind as Matilda"s in the Abbaye aux Dames, was destroyed by the Calvinist iconoclasts in the 16th century and his bones scattered.

As a consequence of the Wars of Religion, the high lantern tower in the middle of the church collapsed and was never rebuilt. The Benedictine abbey was suppressed during the French Revolution and the abbey church became a parish church. From 1804 to 1961, the abbey buildings accommodated a prestigious high school, the Lycée Malherbe. During the Normandy Landings in 1944, inhabitants of Caen found refuge in the church; on the rooftop there was a red cross, made with blood on a sheet, to show that it was a hospital (to avoid bombings).