TO DO | MUSEUM
On a beautiful summer day, I felt like a walk. A Roman walk to be precise. At the archaeological site Ambrussum you can do so. And it’s free! This Roman settlement is one of the historical sites you can visit along the Via Domitia, the Roman road that connected Italy’s Rome with Cadiz in Spain. Visiting the exceptional collection of over 2,000 years old ruins, I dive back in history.
About 3 to 4 centuries B.C., Ambrussum was a Gallic settlement including an oppidum and ramparts. A “relais routier”, or staging post, was constructed around 30 B.C. when the Romans conquered Gaul. These staging posts were built on Roman roads every 10 to 15 kilometres. Travellers could rest while using facilities like hotels, inns, thermal baths and even a forge for any necessary repairs. At the visitor centre, I take a look at the small, informative museum. Keep in mind that you’re in France, so the visitor centre and museum close at lunchtime.
Le Pont Ambroix
With the map I got from the visitor centre, I follow the 2,3 kilometres marked trail. Along the path, I find informational signs (both in French and English), which bring the site more alive. When I get at the single remaining arch of the Ambroix bridge, I decide to have my picnic at this serene place. Le Pont Ambroix used to be an impressive construction which led the Via Domitia over the Vidourle River. Hard to imagine, but this bridge used to have at least nine arches over 150 metres.
From the Ambroix bridge, people could either choose to continue the Via Domitia or to follow the paved way to the oppidum. This cobbled road (right on the picture below) is often being confused with the Via Domitia (left on the picture below). Whereas the Via Domitia hasn’t quite stood the test of time, the paved way still shows the deep wheel ruts.
Continuing my way to the top of “la colline Devès”, I enjoy the view of Lunel on one side and the Pic Saint-Loup on the other. Meanwhile, I am treated to a concert of cigales hidden in the garrigue scrubland. The ramparts on top of the hill are the oldest visible remains of Ambrussum and date back to the Gallic period.
Still today, archaeological excavations are done, and new remainings are found. In fact, 95 % of the site hasn’t been researched. A lot of work to do! All these new finds help to better understand the evolution of Ambrussum and its role during history. As the organisation of Ambrussum likes to involve visitors, guided tours, Roman battles, theatre and tasting and more are organised.