Orange, Ancient Theater and Arc de Triomphe

Visit time : half-day.
The city of Arausio (its ancient Roman name) offers its Roman Theater and Triumphal Arch as a testament to its 2,000 years of history. Both are in exceptional condition, as if the tragedies that were played in the theater happened just yesterday, and as if the visitors who pass under the Triumphal Arch on the Via Agrippa were the Emperor Augustus himself. The 20th century would be marked by the introduction of one of the largest festivals of lyrical art, the Choregies of Orange, which allowed the city to shine once again on the worldwide stage. The festival’s operas and symphonic concerts take place at the heart of the Roman Theater, offering a combination of history and culture, and timeless, magical moments.


World Heritage

The city of Orange reflects the period of Roman splendor in Provence. It features two vestiges of Roman times: the Triumphal Arch and the Roman Theater, monuments listed by UNESCO as World Heritage sites since 1981 under criteria iii and vi. The ancient Roman Theater of Orange, built in the time of Emperor Augustus (1st century BC), is one of the largest known ancient theaters, but also the best preserved. The facade, 103 meters long and 37 meters high, and the stage wall remain intact, though without their original marble flooring. There are only a few remains of the original decorations, however, the statue of Augustus still stands in the large central niche of the stage wall.

Archaeological excavations have brought to light the foundations of a temple and the remains of a capitol building in the immediate vicinity of the monument. North of the city on the ancient Via Agrippa, the Triumphal Arch, from the same era as the theater, recalls the exploits of the second legion in its fight against the Gauls. The Triumphal Arch remains, despite its damage, one of the most remarkable monuments of Roman Gaul.

Criteria for selection

Criterion (iii): The ancient theater is an outstanding, if not unique, example of Roman theaters.

Criterion (vi): The Triumphal Arch has universal value, especially in relation to the events referred to in the bas-reliefs on the north face (war against the barbarians, establishment of the Pax Romana)

Source : UNESCO / ICOMOS.

History

After Caesar’s conquest of Gaul in the 1st century BC, Rome decided to create a new city strategically located between the North and the South of Gaul in order to monitor passengers. The city was founded in 35 BC under the name Arausio by veterans of the Second Gallic Legion. The city would experience a lavish and prosperous period before being looted by the Visigoths in 412.

From 1150 onward it became the seat of the small principality of Baux d’Orange. Through alliances and inheritance, René of Nassau, Count of Holland, inherited the principality of Orange in 1530. For two centuries the city would be administered by the princes of Nassau and its history would be linked to that of the Netherlands.

The Nassaus carried the Orange name throughout the world. The title Prince of Orange still exists today in the royal family of the Netherlands, and the color orange is still their emblem. The city became a landlocked Protestant stronghold in a dominant Catholic area, and it did not take long for this relationship to fester. In 1562, the Catholics launched a punitive expedition against the Protestants in Orange, but the two religions were practiced simultaneously until the 17th century. In 1672, war finally broke out between William III of Orange-Nassau, governor of the Netherlands, and Louis XIV, who took possession by force, demolished the castle on the Colline Saint Eutrope and expelled the Protestants. The principality joined France in 1713 with the Treaty of Utrecht.

Tourist Office

Tourist Office of Orange
5 Cours Aristide Briand, 84100 Orange
Website - tel : 04 90 34 70 88.
Opening times:
April, May, June and September, Monday to Saturday: 9 a.m. to 12:30 p.m./ 2 p.m. to 6 p.m.
July and August, Monday to Saturday: 9 a.m. to 6 p.m., Sunday and holidays: 9 a.m. to 12:30 p.m. ;
October through March, Monday to Saturday: 9 a.m. to 1 p.m. / 2 p.m. to 5 p.m.
The tourist office offers guided tours in 5 languages and two thematic city tours: the Roman Tour and the Princes of Nassau Tour.

Museum

Musée d'Art et d'Histoire
Rue Madeleine Roch, 84100 Orange
Website - tel : 04 90 51 17 60.
Museum of Art and History with Audio 
Guide, with a visit of the Roman Theater
Full price / reduced price : €9.50 / €7.50
Museum of Art and History with Audio Guide
Full price / reduced price: €5.50 / €4.50
Family offer: free entry for the 2nd child between 7 and 17 years old (with 2 paying adults and 1 child).
Opening times: January, February, November, December: 9:45 a.m. to 12:30 p.m. / 1:30 p.m. to 4:30 p.m. ; March and October: 9:45 a.m. to 12:30 p.m. / 1:30 p.m. to 5:30 p.m. ; April, May and September : 9:15 a.m. to 6 p.m. ; June, July and August: 9:15 a.m. to 7 p.m.

In front of the Roman Theater. On three levels, the Museum of Art and History houses Roman remains from archaeological excavations and an exhibition on the history of the city. Note in particular the impressive Roman cadastre (official land map) engraved on marble from the 1st century, the most comprehensive so far discovered. This system, presented on the map, allowed officials to distribute land fairly, and to determine tax amounts.

Events

Medieval Day: shows and events. Late May to early June.

The Choregies (July and August)
Created in 1869, the Choregies of Orange is the oldest French festival. Devoted to opera and concerts (symphonic and lyrical), the festival takes place on the stage of the Roman Theater. Its stage wall guarantees exceptional acoustics. In 1903, Sarah Bernhardt played Phaedra. The lyrical and musical vocation of the Roman Theater became well-known in 1971, with the creation of the "New Choregies", which was an immediate success.
Office of the Choregies of Orange :
18 place Silvain, 84100 Orange
Website
- tel : 04 90 51 83 83.
Tip for visitors: it is necessary to reserve show tickets several months in advance

Markets: a traditional local market (food and crafts) is held every Thursday morning in the streets and squares of the city center.

Transport

Getting to Orange

By car
Highway A7 (Lyon - Marseille), exit 21
Highway A9 (Montpellier - Lyon), exit 21. Highway N7: Paris - Nice
Nearby classified sites:
Arles: 65 km (40 mi), time: 1 hour
Avignon: 30 km (18.5 mi), time: 30 minutes
Nîmes: 57 km (35 mi), time: 45 minutes
Pont du Gard: 30 km (18.5 mi), time: 25 minutes

By bus
Bus Station
201 Cours Pourtoules, 84100 Orange
Parking de l’Arc de Triomphe
Tel : 04 90 34 15 59

By Plane
Nîmes-Arles-Camargue Airport (64 kms)
Website
- tel : 04 66 70 49 49.
Avignon-Caumont Airport (37 kms)
Website
- tel : 04 90 81 51 51.
Marseille-Provence Airport
 (100 kms)
Website
- tel : 04 42 14 14 14.

By train
SNCF Train Station
Avenue Frédéric Mistral, 84100 Orange (1 km from the city center).
Website
- tel: 36 35.
Direct TGV from Paris. Time: 3 hours, 20 minutes
 

Getting around in Orange 

The different sites in the city can be easily explored on foot.

Transport Tip
The Tourist Train

Website - tel : 08 10 71 07 15.
Price: €7 / children under 12 years old: €1
Available from July through September. The train departs from the Roman Theater and travels to 13 major sites in Orange. Time: 1 hour. Audio guide in French and English.

Sleeping / Eating

Accommodation

The selection of accommodation proposed below consists of establishments that offer quality services at competitive rates, they are considered as references in their respective categories. These addresses are in the immediate vicinity of the classified area. The prices shown are for the off season, on the basis of 2 people (d: double, tr. Triple, q: quadruple).

L’Herbier d’Orange **
8 Place aux herbes, 84100 Orange
Website - tel : 04 90 34 09 23.
Price from : d. €61/ tr. €77/ q. €90.

Logis Le Glacier ***
46 Cours Aristide Briand, 84100 Orange
Website - tel : 04 90 34 02 01.
Price from €79.

Hôtel Lou Cigaloun ***
4 Rue Caristie, 84100 Orange
Website - Tel: 04 90 34 10 07.
From €77.

Hôtel Arène ***
8 Place Langes, 84100 Orange
Website - Tel: 04 90 11 40 40.
From €90.


Eating

The selection of restaurants proposed below consists of restaurants that offer a good price/quality value. These addresses are nearby the classified area. “Formule” corresponds to a lunch special with a starter and a main course, or a main course and a dessert. The “menus” usually consist of a starter, a main course and a dessert, for lunch or dinner.

Le Parvis - Provencal cuisine
55 Cours Pourtoules, 84100 Orange
Website - Tel : 04 90 34 82 00.
"Lunch formule" : €15.50. "Menu" from €29.50.

Le Forum - Traditional cuisine
3 Rue du Mazeau, 84100 Orange
Website - tel : 04 90 34 01 09.
"Menu" from €26.

Au Petit Patio - Provencal cuisine
58 Cours Aristide Briand, 84100 Orange
Tel: 04 90 29 69 27.
Lunch "Formule" €18. "Menu"from €26.

Media

Orange, Patrimoine Mondial Office de Tourisme d'Orange