A Little Bit of Art…A Little Bit of History: Orange Museum


Museum of Art and History, Musee d’Art et d’Histoire, Orange, France The promising and spruced-up Museum of Art and History in Orange was – like the rest of the town – something of a disappointment.  With my usual luck, parts were closed off, due to refurbishments, but I’m not sure that even if I’d seen their full collection, I would…

The Stage Is Set: the Roman Theatre of Orange


Roman Theatre of Orange, Théâtre antique d’Orange, Orange, France As part of my summer trip to the South of France, after over twenty years of eager anticipation, I finally made it to the Roman Theatre in Orange.  And, crushingly, I was disappointed. The theatre is widely publicised as being one of the best preserved Roman theatres of Europe, but somehow it…

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Life in 19th century Montpellier: the Hotel de Cabrières-Sabatier d’Espeyran


L’hôtel de Cabrières-Sabatier d’Espeyran, Montpellier, France Right next door to the Fabre Museum is the Hôtel de Cabrières-Sabatier d’Espeyran, a town house, which says it is dedicated to decorative arts.  That could mean anything, and in this case it means that they have 19th century rooms, and a basement area with ceramics and metalwork. The house was built in 1873/4 by…

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A Matter of Life and Death: Lives of Gladiators


Gladiators: heroes of the Colosseum, Gladiateurs, héros du Colisée, at the Musée de la Romanité, Nîmes, France   In my usual not-very-efficient way, I’m writing about an exhibition which has now closed.  It was, however, a very neat and well thought out exhibition at the Musée de la Romanité about gladiators in the Roman world, possibly because it’s been on a world…

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Nîmes’ Musée de la Romanité Part Three: At Home and In Town


…continued from Part Two… This part continues to look at the Roman objects on show in the museum, including some extraordinary mosaics and even frescoes…. There is a large section dedicated to funerary stele, which were really interesting.  Although I don’t usually like the use of multimedia technology, I did like the way that some of the stones had moving…

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Exploring Roman Nîmes (on a sizzlingly hot day)


Nîmes, France Nîmes is a very elegant, confident little French town – probably the classiest that I visited on my summer trip.  It has a great ‘French’ feeling, with higgledy-piggledy roads, each as charming as the last, and each pulling you in to be explored. The problem was that it was very hot when we visited, and I’m not very…

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In the Footsteps of Gladiators: Nîmes Amphitheatre


Arena of Nîmes, Arènes de Nîmes, Nîmes, France One of the finest surviving amphitheatres from the Roman world, the Arena, as it’s called locally, is an astonishing structure.  If you have been lucky enough to have seen the Colosseum in Rome, then you’ll see similarities: they are both grand, yet quite dinky, they are both insanely photogenic and they both help…

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Turrets and Saints: Montpellier Cathedral


Cathedral of St Peter, Cathédrale Saint-Pierre, Montpellier, France From the outside, the Cathedral of Montpellier is probably one of the most peculiar I’ve ever seen.  In fact, it really doesn’t look like it should be a cathedral, not least because the ecclesiastical building joins on almost seamlessly with the university building to its side. And somehow, it does suit Montpellier.…

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