Exactly a year ago, we were in the middle of an 11-day road trip around the South of France. It was an absolutely massive undertaking to plan, inspired by cheap flights from Madrid to Toulouse and Lonely Planet's France's Best Trips book. I pieced together many of the different road trip itineraries in the book and added in some additional stops based on blogs and sites I'd read online. The final plan was very ambitious and had us covering quite a bit of southern France, but the end result was...fabulous (if I do say so myself). Now, when I think about going anywhere in Europe on vacation, a few places come to mind, and the South of France is without a doubt at the top of that list.
Our stop in Orange was our first chance to see Roman ruins in France, but certainly not our last. We began at the Théâtre Antique, or the Roman Theatre, that is supposedly the best preserved theater in Europe. It was built in the 1st century AD under Emperor Augustus and was the first of its type to be constructed in France. The theater was abandoned in the Middle Ages when the church thought plays were immoral - during that time it was used for defense and some homes were even constructed within the theater. In 1825 restoration began and nearly 50 years later the first performance in centuries took place in front of an audience of 10,000. Plays, operas, ballets, concerts and re-enactments continue to this day in what is now recognized as a UNESCO World Heritage Site.