My Life as a Traveler

Roman around France

It’s a beautiful day in Provence. The sun is shining and it is windy, but not cold. I get a chance to do some yoga while Morgan and George are online. It’s supposed to be raining in the mountains where we’re headed, so we’re hanging out at our chateau as long as we possibly can.

The town of Orange, our first stop, is just a 15 minute drive north of the chateau. It’s a homeschool day as we explore a 2000 year old Roman amphitheatre with its wall still intact. There are a lot of Roman amphitheaters around, like the pics of the one I posted from Lyon. This one is special because not only are the seats saved, but the huge wall that formed the back of the stage for performances is undestroyed.

We take an audiotour and learn that Orange was a big outpost of the Romans, where many of the soldiers retired after their 20 years of service (relatively young retirees need to be far from the emperor). They first used the theatre for Greek tragedies, but over the years lighter drama and then comedies became more popular. By 300AD, the audience wanted more and more bawdy spectacles, and it wasn’t unusual for women to come on stage naked for a pornographic performance in front of the 9000 plus people who would attend for free.

The Christians put an end to that (I always wondered what the problem was with Christians and theater back then). Trashed by the Saracens and other invading tribes, it became a hospital, a prison, and eventually a neighborhood. People built dwellings in it and lived there until around 1850, when an enterprising and artistic Frenchman decided that it needed to be a theatre again. It took 20 years to evict everyone and then longer to restore it, but by 1890 it was the place for all types of performances, particularly opera. Now all kinds of music and theater are performed here. Sure would love to attend something, anything here, for the acoustics are amazing.

It takes about 4 hours to drive to our next mountain home, Chamonix, in the French Alps. By the time we get here, the wind of Provence has blown all the rain and clouds away and the mountaintops are mostly visible. I can see Mont Blanc, the highest mountain in Europe, from my bed.

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