Wednesday, 15 February 2012

Vaison la Romaine


‘What kind of treasure?’ we all wanted to know.
   ‘No one can say for certain. Most people say it’s a cache of gold coins. But it might be jewellery, or Roman swords and cups. The Romans were here, you know.’

                                                            From The Lantern

You can’t travel far in Provence without being reminded that the ancient Romans were here – and that it still bears the name given to the region by Julius Caesar, simply The Province. The mythological beauty of the countryside is underscored constantly by the loving preservation of classical ruins and the way other ancient buildings live on alongside the present. Some are still used, like the theatre at Orange, while others have simply melted into other walls.


A clear cold day in winter is my favourite time to visit such places, and here is Vaison la Romaine in the Haut-Vaucluse. There are no crowds and it’s possible to stand and gaze at the broken columns without having to filter out the present. What was it like to walk through those narrow roadways two thousand years ago?


What comes through most strongly for me is the sense of calm, though with big questions hovering that I may or may not want to think about. The passing of time, for one. The way what we are seeing in these weathered stones is ‘all passion spent’ for those who erected them – but survival of their spirit and vision.


The face of this statue of a woman – I should find out who she is, shouldn’t I – is striking. At first I thought she looked sad, but after a while it seemed her expression points to a woman who is contemplative, with strong opinions and character and a drive to understand the world around her. She looks like a book lover to me. 

9 comments:

Spangle said...

You're right, the statue looks like she is contemplating something...very intriguing. Fabulous photos!

Bunched Undies said...

Wonderful piece, really brought back some memories.
It was in a little bar near the coliseum in Arles that I learned - the hard way - that you must wait for the proprietor to pour water into your pastis before tasting it. All the locals in attendance had a good laugh at my expense. Just another stupid American tourist :)

Karen Wojcik Berner said...

I love the idea of being able to roam freely without a lot of tourists, so you can really soak up the vibe of the place. Ancient places hold such a pull for me. Probably because we have nothing close in America. Here, something from 1800 is considered historical. There, it is new construction.

And the statue? Definitely a book lover!

An Eye for Detail said...

Oh yes.... Vaison is one of our most favorite places anywhere in the South of France! We've stayed in Seguret and Nyons..also favorites. I've never seen it in winter, but even in summer/fall with the crowds, it delights!

Lisa Erin said...

Fascinating pictures. I would love to see Roman ruins up close. The only real ruins we have near me are of the American Civil War, etc. I have Fort Pulaski only a mile or two from me. Interesting, but not as much of an interest to me as what you get to experience.

James Kiester said...

Do you realize how fortunate you are? Here, in America, we have a few hundred years of history to explore & reflect upon, whereas you have a rich history dating back thousands of years. It must be inspiring.

louciao said...

What an unusual and haunting expression on that statue!

Sacha said...

I visited this summer Vaison la Romaine and I was also sour the charm and beauty of this statue of the Empress Sabina and Adrian is very nice side just as beautiful as her!
Sacha

Relish said...

Ahh Vaison, I love Vaison la Romaine. Although I appreciate history full stop, continental Europeans are so lucky to have such ancient, awe inspiring history right on their doorstep. Fancy the things/changes that thoughtful lady has seen!!

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