The neophyte might believe that the Gallo-Roman sites are only found in the South of France. However, during the conquest of the Gallic territories, the Romans went up to the north of the country. In his book “Gallo-Roman sites in France”, author Renée Grimaud and photographer Bruno Colliot show us the provinces conquered by Rome.
Famous remains and lesser-known sites
They begin their journey with the Narbonnaise from Toulouse to Nice to Annecy, continuing through Aquitaine from Nantes to the Pyrenees and to Puy en Velay, the Lyonnaise from Brittany to Paris and Lyon, Belgium from Boulogne sur Mer towards Epinal and finally the Germanies corresponding to the territories going from Langres to the Rhine. For each province, Renée Grimaud explains its origin and its geographical location then details certain Gallo-Roman sites, without forgetting to mention the progress of the excavations, the period of discovery of the remains and, depending on the case, the state of the restorations.
Bruno Colliot photographed known remains such as those of Arles and some less known ones such as Fréjus and Vernègues for the Narbonnaise. In Aquitaine, Sanxay is a spa and pilgrimage site dedicated to water, on 20 ha, active from the 1st to the 4th century, with an amphitheater of 6,500 spectators or Montmaurin the first villa with glazed windows dating from the 3rd and 4th century.
In the Lyonnaise province, Le Mans was first a Gallic city then Gallo-Roman in 57 BC. J.C., surrounded by thick ramparts from 3.60 to 4.20m, the longest enclosure of this type dotted with circular towers, spaced from 25 to 40 m. The province of Belgium, whose capital is Reims, was Roman under Augustus with its 23 cities. North of Sarrebourg, Saint Ulrich en Moselle offers us one of the largest villas unearthed in 1894 on 1330 ha, with 120 rooms, 30 annex buildings on the estate (barns, workshops, outbuildings) and whose thermal baths were decorated with mosaics and marble pavement.
This book is a superb journey through Roman Gaulle and the association between an author interesting to read and a quality photographer, is really successful.
Gallo-Roman sites in France, by Renée Grimaud. Editions Ouest France, May 2014.