The Best Things to Do in Vaison-la-Romaine

Vaison-la-Romaine | © Dar1930 / Shutterstock
Alex Ledsom

Vaison-la-Romaine is an idyllic village to visit in the south of France. It has Roman ruins, an ancient castle perched high on its hill, a wonderful local market where time has seemingly stopped still and wonderful walking opportunities on the side of a bucolic river.

Loved by over 40s

Vaison-la-Romaine is a village of two historical halves. The river Ouvèze runs through the middle of the present-day village but in the Roman era, the town was restricted to the northern side while in Medieval times, it spread to the other bank. Historically, it’s a place that traces southern France’s entire past. There is evidence of dwellers from the Bronze Age, after which the Celts arrived to build camp before the Romans conquered the region in 120 BC. Under Roman rule, the town thrived, the evidence of which are the remains of a large Roman theatre as well as elegant villas lining the river, which are decorated with intricate mosaic tiles. From the fifth century onwards, Christianity came to the area and parts of the town – notably the southern side of the river – began to be owned by rich Counts and Bishops. It is here today that you can wander the medieval town, following the winding alleys uphill to the large castle.

Historic Vaison-la-Romaine, Provence, France

The best things to do

There are some wonderfully diverse things to do in Vaison-la-Romaine encompassing the area’s geography and history.

Puymin Roman Site

Archaeological site

Roman ruins in Vaison-la-Romaine town, Provence, France | © Lev Levin / Shutterstock
© Lev Levin / Shutterstock

The Roman remains at Vaison-la-Romaine are all in good condition for tourists to visit. First, there is the 2,000-metre-square villa of Apollo, which boasts the remains of marble flooring and a thermal bath. Secondly, an immense 3,000-metre-square house, La Maison à la Tonnelle, which was divided into a public section for entertaining, a private home for the family and another part that housed animals and grain. The third attraction is a sanctuary where Roman people could pay homage to local and national personalities and the architecture reflects this; it’s full of grand doorways, elegant columns, a big pool and many statues of Emperors and their wives. Finally, wander the remains of the Roman theatre, which was probably built in the first century AD and which has been protected as a historical monument since 1862. This last is an impressive relic of a bygone age when it could entertain up to 3,000 spectators at a time. It was probably used until the fifth century at which time (in the year 407) Emperor Honorius ordered the dismantling of any pagan monuments. The whole site is currently undergoing restoration and is well worth a visit.

Medieval Vaison-la-Romaine

Archaeological site

Medieval Vaison-la-Romaine | © Dar1930 / Shutterstock
© Dar1930 / Shutterstock

The Romans retreated from Vaison-la-Romaine in the fifth century and the village was incorporated into the area known as Provence. Throughout the Middle Ages, many local families contested ownership of land and their right to rule the region. The pope eventually stepped in to solve the town’s disputes and, in 1251, allocated land and villas under a treaty. The pope took ownership of the castle, Château Comtal, at the same time and the village gradually built itself up around the hill below. Present day locals mostly live on the opposite side of the river, although there are still some small cottages and the occasional shop on the path up to the castle. Wander the sublime alleys draped with ivy, take photos and eat a crêpe or ice cream before you leave.

Château Comtal

Archaeological site, Building

Ruins of a castle, Vaison-la-Romaine, Provence, France | © (Richard Semik) / Shutterstock
© (Richard Semik) / Shutterstock

Overlooking the entire town, perched on a giant rock, Château Comtal offers unrivalled views of the surrounding area. There are few signs so just keep walking uphill to find it, through the winding medieval streets – it can be steep in places but there is a handrail to help on some of the several routes up. Château Comtal was built in 1185 to celebrate the Count of Toulouse’s reign and was later fortified in the 13th century when a dungeon was added. The Catholic Church took possession in 1274 and it’s now run by the French government as a historic monument.

Tuesday Food Market – Vaison-la-Romaine

Market, French

The Tuesday food market at Vaison-la-Romaine | © Edna Winti / Flickr
 © Edna Winti / Flickr
Ever since 1483, Vaison-la-Romaine has held a weekly market but it wasn’t until Pope Clement VII fixed the day by decree in 1583 that it became a regular Tuesday event. It runs from 8am to 1pm and takes over the whole town – on the streets, pavements and in every alleyway – selling local produce as well as everyday items. Buy a plate of delicious prawns or paella from a stallholder, take a seat and watch the market people go by, much as they have for centuries.

The river Ouvèze

Natural Feature

The river Ouvèze at Vaison-La-Romaine, France | © mj - tim photography / Shutterstock
© mj - tim photography / Shutterstock

The river Ouvèze made headlines 26 years ago in the worst possible way; after several days of torrential rainfall in September 1992, the banks flooded and Vaison-la-Romaine was inundated with water on both sides. Cross the Roman bridge built in the first century, which links the Medieval and Roman parts of the town, and visit the memorial commemorating the 38 dead. You can also see the plaque that records the astonishing level the water reached – on that fateful day, the river was above head height on the bridge, which itself is several metres above current day river levels. Now, the river is a star attraction in a more positive way. Take a walk along its banks, have a picnic on the tables underneath the Roman bridge and paddle your feet in the much calmer river of today.

The medieval streets of Vaison-la-Romaine
culture trip left arrow
 culture trip brand logo

Volcanic Iceland Epic Trip

meet our Local Insider


women sitting on iceberg


2 years.


It's the personal contact, the personal experiences. I love meeting people from all over the world... I really like getting to know everyone and feeling like I'm traveling with a group of friends.


I have so many places on my list, but I would really lobe to go to Africa. I consider myself an “adventure girl” and Africa feels like the ULTIMATE adventure!

culture trip logo letter c
group posing for picture on iceberg
group posing for picture on iceberg

Every CULTURE TRIP Small-group adventure is led by a Local Insider just like Hanna.

map of volcanic iceland trip destination points
culture trip brand logo
culture trip right arrow
landscape with balloons floating in the air


Connect with like-minded people on our premium trips curated by local insiders and with care for the world

Since you are here, we would like to share our vision for the future of travel - and the direction Culture Trip is moving in.

Culture Trip launched in 2011 with a simple yet passionate mission: to inspire people to go beyond their boundaries and experience what makes a place, its people and its culture special and meaningful — and this is still in our DNA today. We are proud that, for more than a decade, millions like you have trusted our award-winning recommendations by people who deeply understand what makes certain places and communities so special.

Increasingly we believe the world needs more meaningful, real-life connections between curious travellers keen to explore the world in a more responsible way. That is why we have intensively curated a collection of premium small-group trips as an invitation to meet and connect with new, like-minded people for once-in-a-lifetime experiences in three categories: Culture Trips, Rail Trips and Private Trips. Our Trips are suitable for both solo travelers, couples and friends who want to explore the world together.

Culture Trips are deeply immersive 5 to 16 days itineraries, that combine authentic local experiences, exciting activities and 4-5* accommodation to look forward to at the end of each day. Our Rail Trips are our most planet-friendly itineraries that invite you to take the scenic route, relax whilst getting under the skin of a destination. Our Private Trips are fully tailored itineraries, curated by our Travel Experts specifically for you, your friends or your family.

We know that many of you worry about the environmental impact of travel and are looking for ways of expanding horizons in ways that do minimal harm - and may even bring benefits. We are committed to go as far as possible in curating our trips with care for the planet. That is why all of our trips are flightless in destination, fully carbon offset - and we have ambitious plans to be net zero in the very near future.