As this miserable month rolls on (yes, it’s still raining!), I’m working away on a series of posts about Provence. First up is the town of Orange.
There have been places I’ve been to throughout Europe where it hits me with a wallop that the Romans didn’t just take a quick, grand tour of the continent like the ones we take nowadays and then scurry back to Rome. No, they stuck around. They settled down and they governed people and they built things.
Orange is one of those places.
Orange is located in Vaucluse, one of the six departments of the administrative region of Provence-Alpes-Côte d’Azur. (France has 18 of these regions and, in case you’re wondering, yes, French bureaucracy is legendary.)
The borders of Provence-Alpes-Côte d’Azur align pretty much with those of the historical French province of Provence. And here’s where we get to the point I’m trying to make: Provence was the first Roman province beyond the Alps. The Romans called it Provincia Romana, giving Provence its name.
Roman soldiers built Orange, around 35 BC, and they built it to look like a mini-Rome. The Triumphal Arch (above ) and Théâtre antique d’Orange (that’s a part of it, below) are pieces of that Roman legacy. (The theatre is now a site of an annual summer opera festival. Note to self: go check that out sometime.)
Provence is staunchly Catholic (more about that next post) with one exception: Orange has Protestant roots. It was part of the principality of Orange, a holding of the House of Orange-Nassau of the Netherlands from 1544 until 1713. (The Dutch Royal Family are still, all these centuries later, members of the House of Orange-Nassau.)
One last bit of trivia to torture myself with on this rainy night: Orange receives an average of 2595 hours of sunshine a year. That’s a far cry more than we ever get in Vancouver.