I will have to rush this, having met up with three other pilgrims. We are staying in a Sanctuaire St Roch in Montpellier. The others will walk 32km tomorrow and I won,t! It is a very wealthy city with the usual old quarter where the interesting medieval places are, but the rest spreads forever in all directions. The have two tram routes with every stop a super stop, just like the ones developing in Melbourne.
Later this evening I must ring for accommodation for tomorrow. It is a tiny place and if the two suggested places can,t take me, I may have to make other arrangements.
Kate Watson, could you please save all these emails for me? As Word docs, please. (Maybe you could coordinate with someone from 4 Tyrone.)
I did not tell you folks about Orange. It is a charming town with some wonderful things to see. The top of the tops is the Roman theatre, one of only two in the world with its back wall and stage intact. The wall is a series of rooms four levels high or about six stories. The walls are metres thick, and the tunnels beneath the eating areas wide enough for 10 people to walk abreast. It is amazingly overpowering in scale for the 15000 to 20000 people who attend performances. (It is still in use, for opera, especially, but all sorts of performances.) High on the wall facing the audience is a statue of Augustus, the only such remaining. The Visigoths tore all the marble off the walls and took away anything they could find a use for, tumbling the emperor as well. He has been patched up quite well.
Towns were given places of entertainment like this to propagate Roman culture and the cult of the Caesars. They were greater or less depending on the importance of the town. There was always a forum and temple associated with the theatre. Big towns also had a stadium smaller than the coliseum, and baths. In Arles the remains of all these things exist but their glory is the stadium. It is being rejuvenated bit by bit. Currently a sixth is under shrouds and the cost is said to be 3.1 million Euros. Of course all is worth it as all the towns I have been to are tourist meccas. No history, no tourists.