Fodor's Expert Review Quartier de Puymin

Vaison-la-Romaine Archaeological Site/Ruins

Like a tiny Roman forum, the Quartier de Puymin spreads over the field and hillside in the heart of town, visible in passing from the city streets. Its skeletal ruins of villas, landscaped gardens, and museum lie below the ancient theater, all of which are accessed by the booth across from the tourist office. Closest to the entrance, the foundations of the Maison des Messii (Messii House) retain the outlines of its sumptuous design, complete with a vast gentleman's library, reception rooms, an atrium with a rain-fed pool, a large kitchen (the enormous stone vats are still there), and baths with hot, cold, and warm water. It requires imagination to reconstruct the rooms in your mind (remember all those toga movies from the '50s), but a tiny detail is enough to trigger a vivid image—the thresholds still show the hinge holds and scrape marks of swinging doors. A formal garden echoes a similar landscape of the time; wander beneath its cypresses and flowering shrubs to the Musée Archéologique... READ MORE

Like a tiny Roman forum, the Quartier de Puymin spreads over the field and hillside in the heart of town, visible in passing from the city streets. Its skeletal ruins of villas, landscaped gardens, and museum lie below the ancient theater, all of which are accessed by the booth across from the tourist office. Closest to the entrance, the foundations of the Maison des Messii (Messii House) retain the outlines of its sumptuous design, complete with a vast gentleman's library, reception rooms, an atrium with a rain-fed pool, a large kitchen (the enormous stone vats are still there), and baths with hot, cold, and warm water. It requires imagination to reconstruct the rooms in your mind (remember all those toga movies from the '50s), but a tiny detail is enough to trigger a vivid image—the thresholds still show the hinge holds and scrape marks of swinging doors. A formal garden echoes a similar landscape of the time; wander beneath its cypresses and flowering shrubs to the Musée Archéologique Théo-Desplans. In this streamlined venue, the accoutrements of Roman life have been amassed and displayed by theme: pottery, weapons, gods and goddesses, jewelry, and, of course, sculpture, including full portraits of the emperor Claudius (1st century) and a strikingly noble nude Hadrian (2nd century). Cross the park behind the museum to climb into the bleachers of the 1st-century Theater, smaller than the one in Orange but also used today for concerts and plays. Across the parking lot is the Quartier de la Villasse, where the remains of a lively market town evoke images of main-street shops, public gardens, and grand private homes, complete with floor mosaics. The most evocative image of all is in the thermes (baths): a neat row of marble-seat toilets lined up over a raked trough that rinsed waste instantly away.

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Archaeological Site/Ruins

Quick Facts

Rue Burrus
Vaison-la-Romaine, Provence-Alpes-Côte d'Azur  84110, France

-04–90–36–02–11

Sight Details:
Rate Includes: €8

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