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It is from the high rock crowned by the castle of the Counts of Toulouse that one may enjoy the best possible view over the site of Vaison. Looking northwards, one discovers a medium-sized city (about 6000 inhabitants) surrounded by cultivated land. The Ouvèze river separates the Upper town from the modern town which was built on the Gallo-Roman city of which only 15 ha. (about 38 acres) were bought to light and are now visible :

A manor-house and its avenue, lined with two-hundred years old plane-trees, overlook the Gallo-Roman vestiges of La Villasse. The place was thus described by an XVIIIth century author, Father Boyer, who wrote in 1731 : “No remains of the ancient City of Vaison are now to be seen and the place where it used to stand was turned into a field known nowadays as La Villasse , that is to say the ancient city or the big city, in comparison with the new one built on the steep rock”.

Looking eastwards, the hill of Puymin appears as a wooded area. The other Gallo-Roman ruins (the northern Publi Baths, the Peacock Villa, the area north of the cathedral) are out of view. The rest of the ancient city is buried under the houses of modern Vaison.

Finally, two Romanesque buildings are to be noticed west of La Villasse ; St Quenin’s chapel, and southwards the cathedral Our Lady of Nazareth with its cloister. This urban landscape in which ancient vestiges, Romanesque buildings and modern constructions are interwoven, suggests the superposition of occupations along the ages.

Our present knowledge enables us to retrace the various localizations of the successive settlements ; small archaeological material (shards …) and sometimes much more important clues tell us about it.

 
  • Aquarelle : Jean-Claude Golvin