Maurice and I tend to stick to our area as far as exploring other cities and areas. It wasnâ€™t until a medieval festival was advertised that we decided to make the trek and see what makes Orange so special. It is only about an hour from our house, not that long a journey, and it makes me realize that we should start going a little further afield when we decide to do a little exploring. The Luberon is packed with places to see and it is fun discovering new things and the city of Orange was a joy on our first time visit.
I had read in a tour book-an English one-that Orange was rather a sad little reincarnation of all the many existances it has had throughout the centuries and was expecting maybe a dreary little city packed with traffic with a cloud of polution caused by the many cars as they wizzed around the Roman arena but was pleasantly surprised by our entry into Orange. Maybe we just missed the dreary parts. We easily parked and in a short walk were in a well-done pedestrian area with narrow streets lined with cobble stones and soon we were at a Roman wall, the wall that King Louis XIV called the best wall in his kingdom after he took the little Protestant kingdom away from the Netherlands. (Some of the royal family there still go by the name of Orange). He tore down what looks like it was a nice castle from old drawings but left the Roman arena which is the best preserved arena in Europe. In its present reincarnation, it is used for concerts, symphonies and operas and I now have the dream of someday attending something there. Maybe a currently popular singer or a jazz festival although it would be a fabulous place to see an opera, even though that isnâ€™t really one of my interests. On approaching, it appears to be just an old wall, such as those that once surrounded a city, but it is the main huge back wall of the arena, and the round, half circle with the seating areas goes behind it, dug into the nearby hill. A walking tour inside shows what a true marvel it is and, like the coloseum in Rome, it is easy to imagine entertainment taking place there centuries ago.
The Medieval Festival turned out to be a tremendous experience with the sound of ancient instruments that we could hear as we neared the arena, and with the many participants dressed in costumes out of time, from kings, bishops, knights of the crusades, even magicians and stilt walkers, it all was a feast for the senses. Many items were for sale that were not the usual things seen at markets, mystical types of jewelry or figures of fairies, little costumes of knights or ladies of the realm for children, everything had a medieval feel to them. There was a real quality to everything done, from the costumes and make-up of the participants, the attention to detail in every presentation and the involvement with attending children, from patience to explaining how things were done in ancient times, such as a demonstration of making yarn from sheeps wool, to magic tricks and figures walking around in costume. Crusade tents were set up in front of the ancient wall of the arena with displays of all sorts and parades were done at least once an hour with knights of the crusade with red or black crosses on their costumes, or fantastic figures on stilts with masks of animals, such as a fox. It was truly one of the best festivals I have ever attended and I could imagine what the city of Orange itself must have been like at one time as magical characters walked by me in costume playing instruments of old, showing us times long past, a look at history not found in books at school.
A Jester who loved to pose.
Lots of magicians and performers to entertain.
Mystical fox on stilts-I like the interaction with the little boy.