Saturday, March 9, 2013

Travel Friday Trip to Orange in the South of France

It was Travel Friday so I opted to head to the South of France to visit the charming city of Orange. Thus at 6:00 a.m. I was aboard the 25 bus on my way to Gare Part-Dieu for the multi-stop local TER train to Orange.  

More About the Mean Streets of Lyon


While waiting for my 7:20 a.m. train departure in a very uncrowded station, I noted a one-toothed homeless woman sitting by herself in the waiting area drawing and writing furiously with all of her sizable worldly possessions by her side.

In a good mood, I decided to buy her a café and a croissant to get her day going. It turns out that she was English and very happy to receive a fresh petit déjeuner. I was taken a bit aback when she said no to the sugar and stir stick, but overall, it felt good.

Soon after that, karma kicked in! It was announced that our train to Orange would be 30 minutes late in departing. We were the only train on the entire board, about 20 trains, that was not on time. By the time we left and then with another delay at a station about half way to Orange, I would arrive in this Provence city about 55 minutes late.

It is the first time that anything like this has happened in my French train travels, karma coincidence . . . I THINK NOT!!! 

Eventually I made it

Although it sprinkled a bit in the morning, overall it was a gorgeous, sunny, warm day in Provence!

Orange, called Arausio in Roman times, was originally founded as a retirement village for Roman army officers. It gets its name today from the days when it was owned by the Dutch House of Orange-Nassau. For an alternate idea on how Orange got its name, see Olivier Rival's comments at the end of this blogpost.

You just don't get moss
like this in Camarillo, California

Bubbly Drink Factory

More Moss

Raimbaud II
Count of Orange

Raimbaud II was born in Orange in 1066 and died in the Holy Land in 1097, 1115 or 1121 depending on which historian you believe. He commanded troops that laid siege to first Antioch and then Jerusalem.

The good weather caused several people to do a little basking while they dined. I enjoy people watching.

Ice cream is good . . .

. . . as is a café or . . .

. . . a beer

Orange's main attraction is its marvelous 2,000 year old Roman Théâtre Antique. It is considered to be the best preserved Roman theater in the world. It is the only such structure in Europe that still has its acoustic wall standing.

French King Louis XIV, who once toyed with the idea of moving the entire theater to Versailles, declared that "It is the finest wall in my kingdom."

Théâtre Entrance

The Acoustic Wall from the street

Ancient Carved Stone

In its heyday, it sat 10,000
citizens and non-citizens

Red Rock

Hey, isn't Red Rock Canyon where all of the crime happens on the Las Vegas crime show CSI?

The Théâtre is still in use
for plays and concerts

Corinthian Column

The Sphinx Guarding the Théâtre


I found out that these statues of the Emperor that are seen all over the Roman world's ruins were mass produced. The Emperor is dressed in all of his finery complete with all of the correct imperial insignias.

What I didn't know was that all of these statue's heads were removable. When an Emperor died, heads were made of the new Emperor's likeness and sent all over the empire to replace the dead Emperor's head. I am sure that, if you knew what the Emperor really looked like that, at times, it made for strange looks. Think about Obama's head atop, say, Lincoln's body.

Refreshments were sold in these
chilly Théâtre passageways


"Equitas Gradus #3" . . . these three rows were reserved for people of the equestrian order.

One would be seated according to their class and status. The lower rows nearer to the stage were for the nouveau riche like the equestrian order, merchants, tradesmen and ancient Arausio's big shots.

Above them were seated the Arausio's working class people.

Highest up in the cheap seats were the slaves, prostitutes and beggars.

More Roman Columns

Pigeon Roost

Houses Abutting the Roman Théâtre

The Théâtre was simply TRÈS MAGNIFIQUE!!!

Now it was time to explore the city and find a place for lunch.

Cool Storefront but NO FOOD

Concentric Circles

Highly Recommended by
Fred "Papi" Bastiand

While touring the Théâtre, I received a text message from Papi, the Falcons Strong Safety, saying that I simply had to dine at La Roseliere.

While serving in the French Army, he had been stationed in Orange for two years and swore that this was the place to have lunch. Unfortunately, the sign on the door declared that they were closed today . . . SACRÉ BLEU!!!

When I first arrived in Lyon, people were making fun of Papi because he is the oldest player on the Falcon's roster.

How old is he?

I'm not sure but I have seen a picture of him in full uniform astride a horse from his days as a French Cavalry officer.

Le Pigalle Restaurant's
Ravioles au Basilic sounded good


Murphy Clan Reminder

Ancient Arausio was founded
during the reign of Caesar Augustus

Orange Cathedral

Cool Mosaic Floor

Nice Altar

Fountain Fun

Orange Flatiron Building?

Small but Interesting

It IS the city of Orange after all

Centaurs are always nice

The Cyclops
a Myth originally from Sicily

Roman Amphoras

Lots of ???

Dia de los Muertes?

Painting anyone?

Roman Arc de Triomphe
built in 19 A.D.

Technically, authentic Roman Victory Arches are found only in Rome's Forum built to commemorate great victories by various Emperors.

Orange's is a municipal arch to honor General Germanicus who protected the city. The arch is about 60 feet tall. 

Well preserved stone work

1,994 years old

Nice Trident



Arc de Triomph Reflection

Interesting Sign

On the way back to the Gare d'Orange after a very good day in Orange, I spied this colorful, old advertisement.

Rusty Griffin

The train ride back to Lyon was both on time and uneventful until we got about a kilometer from Gare Part-Dieu. We then just came to a dead stop for about 20 minutes while trains on nearby tracks passed us in both directions. Bad train karma continued to hound me.

I mentioned that the train station Friday morning was uncrowded. On Friday night, it was a madhouse as people were trying to connect to their weekend getaway transportation.

Still, I came across this morning's homeless lady who was eating food directly out of a trash bin that she had opened . . .


Besides the advertised Senior (4-0) team's game Saturday night in Clermont-Ferrand against the Servals (0-4), our B team has a game in St-Étienne against the Condors.

The big news from the B team is that both Falcon President Christophe Thuau and Junior team Head Coach Olivier Caldes will be suiting up for them today. Can you say health insurance?

Additionally, our Cadet team plays at home today against St-Ètienne's other club, the Giants.

Busy football Saturday to say the least!

Thought about today Bill in Orange


Olivier R said...

Georges i definitly have to be the usual perfectionist here! The name of "orange" is a deformation of the latin Arausio.The Nassau family becoming Princes of Orange only in 1544. As Lyon took the lion as a symbol while the origin of the name is completly different (coming from the gaul god Lug), Orange took the fruit as its symbol. The fruit and the color! So the origin of the use of the Orange color by the Dutch, the Ulster Unionists or the Syracuse Orangemen is linked to the old city of Orange and the fact the locals have changed a latin name that means "on a high point" to the name of a fruit !

George said...

You are KILLING me Olivier!

For more on the hilarious search for the REAL Syracuse Orangeman, go to:

Olivier R said...

LOL Syracuse is actually my favorite NCAA team Georges and well i respect the old choice of the university to choose "orangemen" as their nickname as a way to respect the Dutch emmigrants who colonised New York State but frankly when you have the name of the wonderful sicilian city they could have done a lot better than that! (and in a crazy twist of all this mix, when i actually went to Siracusa i was just amazed to see the city is surrounded by orange groves!) Makes me nostalgic of that trip:

George said...

Your pictures brought back great memmories of our two seasons in Catania.

Loved Céfalu!!!