If you had to pick a venue to see acts like Tom Jones, Cyndi Lauper, Bootsy Collins and Sonny Rollins, you could do worse than a 2,000-year-old Roman amphitheatre nestled next to France’s Rhône River. A surreal musical fantasy? Nope. It’s the Jazz à Vienne International Festival, which runs this year from June 28 to July 13. Located about 30 minutes south of Lyon, the town was once the capital city of the Allobroge Gauls and became a major urban centre in Julius Caesar’s Roman Empire by 47 BC. Accordingly, historic sites abound, but there’s also plenty of time for acclaimed local food and wine. All best enjoyed to the tune of “What’s New, Pussycat?”
Located just across the Rhône from Vienne’s town centre is a seven-hectare preserved archeological site that shows off the area’s Gallo-Roman past, which dates back to the first century BC.
The Vienne tourism office offers guided tours to a variety of Côte Rôtie wineries. Tours can include winery history lessons, sampling and a boat cruise along the Rhône.
St. Maurice Cathedral
Built between the 12th and early 16th centuries, the cathedral features a selection of Romanesque sculptures. Place St-Maurice.
This highly rated restaurant and hotel has been a Vienne landmark for more than 50 years. Located outside the town’s centre, it’s appropriately near the actual 2,000-year-old Roman pyramid. 14, boulevard Fernand Point.
Pyramide du cirque romain
This 16-metre-high monument was once thought to be the final resting place of Pontius Pilate.
The great market of vienne
Every Saturday local producers and merchants gather to set up a market that extends for six kilometres, one of the country’s largest.
Musée des beaux arts
Located in the historic Place de Miremont square, the fine-arts and archeology museum houses a collection of artifacts from Vienne’s Roman past, as well as paintings from the 16th to early 20th centuries. Place de Miremont.
Jazz à vienne
The festival’s marquee venue is Europe’s largest Roman amphitheatre. 7 Rue de Cirque.