Situated in the south of France, in the Provence region, between the Rhone and Mont Ventoux, Orange is home to two UNESCO-listed monuments: the Ancient Theatre, unique in the world, and the Arc de Triomphe.
The City of Princes will allow you to take a walk through time and culture, encounter a generous terroir with tasty products and a welcoming population, and discover the beauty of the old town and its architectural wealth.
The opulence of Orange’s heritage, both Roman and medieval, goes very well with the activities and entertainment of modern life: thanks to its history, the Provençal town enchants its visitors with its shady squares, its streets full of memories and its excellent wines, which bear the famous Châteauneuf-du-Pape appellation.
A beautiful city nicknamed the City of Princes, Orange is located in the Vaucluse. Capital of the Principality of Orange, its Mediterranean climate makes it the warmest city in France. Founded in 35 B.C., its historical past can be admired with its ancient theatre and triumphal arch. Every summer, the theatre hosts the Chorégies, a famous opera festival.
A 1st century A.D. monument, listed as a UNESCO World Heritage Site, the Roman Theatre of Orange was built at the beginning of the Christian era and owes its reputation to the exceptional state of preservation of its stage. An essential place in the life of the city, it was already famous at the time for its perfect acoustics and the structure of the building, which could seat more than 9,000 spectators .
Forgotten since the 4th century and transformed into a residential area for a time, it returned to its primary function in the 19th century. Indeed, in 1869, Orange relaunched the Théâtre de plein air, bringing the greatest names in drama and opera to the stage.
In 1971, the new Chorégies gave this venue international prestige. Since then, the theatre has welcomed tens of thousands of spectators every year for major summer events.
Dating back to the 1st century A.D. and classified as a UNESCO World Heritage Site, it is an exceptional monument of Roman Provençal art: at the time of its construction, it was dedicated to the glory of the veterans of the 2nd Gallic Legion, founders of the Roman colony of Orange at the beginning of the 1st century. Only later was the Emperor Tiberius celebrated.
It is built of large limestone blocks, laid with dry mortar but assembled with iron and lead seals. This arch consists of three bays corresponding to vaulted passages: a large arch in the centre, flanked by two smaller ones on each side. The whole forms a structure 19.57 metres long by 8.40 metres wide and 19.21 metres high.
Usually, this type of construction commemorated and celebrated the triumphant return of a general and his army. But the Triumphal Arch of Orange does not evoke a particular event but symbolises the supremacy of Rome at sea as well as on land.
Since 1933, the Orange Museum has been housed in a private 17th century palace, the home of Georges Van Cuyl, a Dutch gentleman commissioned by the Prince of Orange to restore the castle on the hill.
It includes a Gallo-Roman section and a section devoted to the history of Orange, with a time span from prehistory to the present day. It contains exceptional documents: three Roman land registers engraved on marble. To learn about the history of the famous Provençal fabric called Indiennes, printed in the Wetter factory in Orange, you will have to admire the 18th century painted canvases illustrating the different stages on the 1st floor of this museum.
Thanks to Edouard Daladier, the city welcomed in 1940, a collection of works by Albert de Belleroche and Frank Brangwyn, of English origin. The latter, a follower of Art Nouveau, owes his fame to the monumental decorations of the Rockefeller Center in New York and the House of Lords at the Palace of Westminster in London.
It was consecrated on 26 October 1208 to Our Lady of Nazareth, in the presence of Prince Guillaume des Baux of Orange. This first building, which also served as a meeting place for the Principality’s general assemblies, was heavily remodelled over the centuries. The various architectural revivals illustrate the history of the church.
After being sacked by Huguenots in 1561, the cathedral was restored at the beginning of the 17th century according to the original plan. At the end of the 18th century, the last bishop of Orange, Monsignor du Tillet, undertook its definitive restoration and enriched its furniture.
A temple to the goddess Reason during the Revolution, it was only later returned to Catholic worship and decorated in the 19th century with frescoes and stained glass windows, while the west portico was rebuilt in the Neoclassical style.
In the 15th century, several monastic orders coexisted in Orange. Saint-Florent, for example, is a convent church of the Cordeliers (Franciscans).
The porch with leaves, which comes from the church of Saint-Trophime in Arles, is part of an austere façade (15th century). Sold as national property during the Revolution, it was used as a barn, stable, prison and returned to worship in 1803. Forty years later, it was erected as a parish and dedicated to Saint Florent.
This 17th-century private residence was acquired by the municipality in 1713. A cornice supports a balustrade in relief with an indentation that emphasises the front. In the centre stand 2 putti carrying 1 rolled leather, where the city’s coat of arms appears surmounted by the walls, the symbol of the city. The garland of fruit and flowers expresses prosperity.
The bell tower, classified as a historical monument in 1907, is from the 18th century and houses the clock of the former consular house.
In the heart of the city, the Saint-Europe Hill dominates the city centre at a height of 105 metres. Listed as a UNESCO World Heritage Site, this site has many places to visit.
In the park, you will have the opportunity to contemplate the statue of the Virgin, a figure built in 1857, or the former residence of the Princes of Orange.
Located in the industrial area of the city of Orange, the Aeronautical Museum is a must-see for military aviation enthusiasts.
You can admire more than thirty flying devices, including the Mirage 2000, the Hawker Hunter, the FIAT G91 or the Mig-21.
Every Thursday morning, the streets and squares of the city centre host one of the best-known markets in the Vaucluse region for its quality and friendliness. The market is typically Provençal with all its colours, sounds and scents.
You can browse around the 300 colourful stalls offering a wide variety of local handicrafts and food products, to rediscover the authentic flavours of the region
In the following map you can see the location of the main places of interest mentioned in this article
If you decide to find a hotel in Orange, you will be delighted by the wide range of cultural activities that the city offers. In fact, the city centre is the nerve centre of Orange: to fully experience all its atmosphere, we recommend that you look for a hotel right here: you will be able to get around on foot, stroll through the alleys of the city with its Provençal charm, stumble upon small shady squares or in front of superb ancient façades, Roman or medieval monuments. It is also here that every Thursday you will find one of the most important markets in Vaucluse, where you can sample local produce.
Please note that during the Jazz Festival, with its many free concerts, the city fills up quickly and you should book accommodation in Orange well in advance. Obviously, prices skyrocket during this period.
To save money, you could consider sleeping in the city’s outer belt. From a tourist point of view, this district is not very interesting, but if you have a means of getting around, it can be a good base. In this area you will find not too expensive hotels and a good number of holiday homes.
The town of Orange can be easily reached by landing at Marseille Airport: after renting a car there, you can continue your journey with only 1 hour. Alternatively, Nice Airport is 2 hours and 30 minutes away by hire car, as is Lyon Airport or Toulouse Airport, 3 hours and 30 minutes away.
If you are following an itinerary in Provence, know that Orange is 1 hour from Arles, 30 minutes from Avignon, a good 1 hour from Aix-en-Provence, 47 minutes from Nimes and 1 hour and 20 minutes from Montpellier.
What's the weather at Orange? Below are the temperatures and the weather forecast at Orange for the next few days.
Orange is located in Provence, in the heart of the Châteauneuf-du-Pape wine region, north of Avignon.