On the left bank of the Rhône, south of Lyon, is a city overflowing with Roman history.
That’s not an overstatement either, as even the parks in Vienne are scattered with thrilling little fragments from the ancient city of “Vienna”, be it Roman paving, walls, milestones or columns.
But top of the bill is the Temple of August and Livia, dating from the 1st-century BC and standing at the heart of Vienne, completely intact like any other building.
Get some context at the Gallo-Roman Museum, which itself is in a big archaeological site, and survey the landscape from atop the Pipet, a vertiginous hill in the middle of the city.
Lets explore the best things to do in Vienne:
1. Temple of Augustus and Livia
Along with the Maison Carrée in Nîmes, this stunning 1st-century BC temple is one of the two best examples of a Roman edifice of this kind in France.
You can observe it from a railing in the centre of Vienne, on Place du Palais Charles de Gaulle, where Roman Vienna’s forum used to be.
The columns, entablature and capitals are all in fine condition considering their age.
They were all preserved because the temple became a church around the 6th century and the portico was bricked up.
It remained like this until the 19th century when it became a listed monument and the restoration project began in 1852.