Lasting about five centuries, until the 5th century AD, the Roman occupation of France left its mark on the country, especially in the southern regions.
There are numerous remains to be seen from this period - many small towns have a fragment of Roman building or remnant of mosaic to display, or the low walls that remain of what was once an impressive villa.
Over and above the frescoes and mosaics that you might come across, that best represent the 'art' of the period, it is through the sculptures and statues, and through the remaining Roman buildings, that the artistic capabilities of the Romans is best seen.
By admiring the design of the buildings themselves, and also the decoration and artistry that went into their design, along with the remaining mosaics, it is possible to get a real feel for the artistic capabilities of the Romans - they had interpretive skills and artistic abilities that would be lst for 1000 years, only to be refound (and surpassed) during the great emergence of art in the renaissance period.
Some of the finest examples of Roman buildings in France are found at:
- Nimes, with its very fine amphitheatre and 'maison carrée'
- Roman Arles, with a theatre, amphitheatre and other monuments
- Orange, with a restored theatre and triumphal arch
- the Pont du Gard, an impressive aquaduct.
The last three of these are all listed World Heritage Sites, and all are found in south and south-east France.