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, on each side of the tourist office.
At the Puymin site, you stroll through the heart of a magnificent quarter of the ancient town. There you can see the vestiges of beautiful patrician homes: the 2000 m² House of the Wreathed Apollo and the 3000 m² Maison à la Tonnelle. The sanctuary with porticos framing a garden and a central building was a place for promenades or perhaps for worship.
Several paths lead to the Roman theatre that dates from the 1st century BC. The stage wall was 25 metres high and its 32 tiers of seats, built in a semicircle, could accommodate 7000 people. Forgotten about for several centuries, it was the Abbot Sautel who unearthed the theatre in 1912. Statues, today exhibited in the Théo Desplans Museum, were found in the pits that hid the machinery. The Roman theatre serves as an outstanding venue for many events: the Choralies, Vaison Danse, Au fil des Voix, the Semaine de Théâtre Antique...
In the centre of the Puymin site you will also find the Théo Desplans Archaeological Museum. Following a great deal of conservation work and inventorying, it today possess a big collection with more than 2000 everyday objects and an antique statuary. It presents the ancient ways of life from prehistoric times to the Gallo-Roman era. The museum is accessible to people with reduced mobility.
As you visit the site, you will see an alignment of sepulchres. In the 5th century, following a policy of rejecting everything that was pagan, the people used part of the theatre's foundations as sarcophagi.References:
The Broch of Gurness is an Iron Age broch village. Settlement here began sometime between 500 and 200 BC. At the centre of the settlement is a stone tower or broch, which once probably reached a height of around 10 metres. Its interior is divided into sections by upright slabs. The tower features two skins of drystone walls, with stone-floored galleries in between. These are accessed by steps. Stone ledges suggest that there was once an upper storey with a timber floor. The roof would have been thatched, surrounded by a wall walk linked by stairs to the ground floor. The broch features two hearths and a subterranean stone cistern with steps leading down into it. It is thought to have some religious significance, relating to an Iron Age cult of the underground.
The remains of the central tower are up to 3.6 metres high, and the stone walls are up to 4.1 metres thick.