The Good Life France Magazine

The Good Life France Magazine brings you the best of France - inspirational and exclusive features, fabulous photos, mouth-watering recipes, tips, guides, ideas and much more...

Published by the award winning team at The Good Life France

1 year ago

Issue No. 17

Packed with fabulous features: Carcassonne, Nimes, Orange in Provence, Nice Carnival, Paris at Christmas, Laval in Mayenne, absinthe, the fashion district of Paris, recipes, guides and more. Our secret ingredient is passion!

I made my way down

I made my way down rather more gingerly than I went up and was happy to be on terra firma a (sorry not sorry - I couldn't resist a Roman phrase in this article). We toured the old changing rooms of Roman actors which now house museum artefacts and saw film clips of people watching plays here from 100 years ago. If only these roman walls could talk This place has always had something special about it even when it wasn’t in use – which is how its survived so well. Extraordinarily, hundreds of years ago, the theatre became a housing estate of sorts. In the 16th century, impoverished inhabitants of Orange built ramshackle houses up against the wall and within the arena, their dwellings spread until the whole place was under cover. In the 18th century makeshift prisons were set up in the theatre. In the 19th century, while in some areas of France, town architects had been pulling down ancient buildings to make way for new, this place survived when Prosper Mérimée, an inspector with the newly formed Monuments Historiques, implemented an extensive restoration campaign. This consisted of clearing away the constructions built in and around the stage area and the lower tiers. The Roman theatre was finally restored to its former glory and from day one, it wowed the public.

The theatre at Orange continues to inspire and delight audiences - just as the romans intended. In 1869 the theatre hosted what was then called “Fetes Romaines” and the theatrical performances were an immediate success. This became an annual summer event renamed Chorégies and it now attracts internationally-renowned artists to perform in front of crowds of more than 9000. Sitting on one of those ancient stone benches (tip: squash a cushion in your bag to make it more comfy), as the sun sets on a warm evening, watching the stage lit up, the performers inspired by their surroundings, is one of those experiences you never forget. Many of the evening performances at the theatre are free and you can get tickets during the day at the theatre reception desk. The acoustics are stunning, the location is wonderful, the ambiance is exquisite, the events are spectacular. Classical music, ballet, opera, pop, rock and more – whatever you do, when you go to Orange, if you get the chance to experience this theatre in action – don’t miss it. You can also take an audio guided tour of the theatre, climb those steep bench steps and see the “The Ghosts of the Theatre” multi-media show. Details of events and tours: