Vienne, while located in southeastern France, is very much a Roman city.

This is because during the times of Julius Caesar, it was a major urban centre of the empire (after falling from Gallic hands)—and because so much of its Roman heritage has been miraculously preserved over the centuries.

While traveling back in time to this spectacular region with AmaWaterways, you will have a few choices in how to explore the area. Consider opting for a walking tour of some of the most incredible landmarks of the region…

Nothing says Roman town like a Roman temple—so of course visiting the Augustus and Livia Temple is a must. Built between 20-10 BC in honour of Caesar Augustus, the son of Julius Caesar, and his wife Livia. It is remarkably preserved from these times, having been used as a church, a museum, a library and finally restored to its original glory once again in the 1800s.

The Saint-Maurice Cathedral, sometimes referred to as the Vienne Cathedral, is a Gothic-Romanesque masterpiece that took nearly 500 years to build, with construction running from 1052-1533. With its construction stretched over so many periods, the cathedral is truly a blend of many styles but its most famous feature is the detailed stonework on its façade. Inside the cathedral, capital stones have been engraved to represent biblical characters. A national monument of France and formerly a seat of Bishops (later Archbishops), the cathedral also contains renowned Flanders tapestries and beautiful stained glass windows.

For our active adventurers, you may also choose to join a guided hike up to Mont Pipet. This is in addition to seeing the temple and cathedral. You’ll be rewarded with stunning panoramic views of the Roman city below, as well as a chapel and statue that sit atop the mountain. But please note, this hike is quite steep and should only be attempted by those who are ready for such a strenuous workout.

For those that are, the views of Vienne and the Rhône Valley may leave you awestruck. Years and years before drones (or even live news choppers) could show you bird’s eye views of thriving cities and towns—hiking up hilltops was the only way to get a glimpse of such majesty. Climb up to Mont Pipet and you can look down over the old town, amphitheatre, half-timbered houses, river and surrounding countryside. On a clear day, you may even see the Pilat Mountain range.

¬Of course, this is France and with such a prime location, it was only a matter of time before either a castle or a church was built atop this hill. And in fact, Mont Pipet is also home to the Chapel of the Virgin Mary and a small statue, built in the 19th century.

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