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Apt was once Apta Julia the Roman City

A couple of years ago, I had the opportunity to do a pop-up event with my jewellery in the cellar of our friends’ newly restored townhouse and apartments in the centre of Apt Cent Cinq. I say cellar, but this was the most beautiful, vaulted stone room, set below the house on the main pedestrianised street, Rue Des Marchands, in the heart of the old town.

Whilst I was there, I noticed some regular black markings on the floor. When I looked closer, I realised it was a pattern of squares, making basic flowers at intervals, surrounded by what appeared to be a black border, made using tiny tesserae.

Continue reading here for the original Vaucluse Dreamer article on the Roman city of Apta Julia and photos.

Apta Julia

The history of modern-day Apt stretches way back in time to Paleolithic times, as evidenced by artefacts on display in the Musée d’Apt Apta Julia Annex. Before the Romans, a Gallic settlement called Vulgientes existed in the exact location.

In roughly 45 BC, the Romans destroyed the town and rebuilt it under the direction of Julius Caesar, naming it Apta Julia. According to the records, this was the only settlement named “Julia” between Rome and Cadiz in Spain. The Apt coat of arms includes a sword and belt to represent those of Julius Caesar. Today, there are no apparent signs of a Roman settlement on the banks of the Calavon River that runs through this city. Nevertheless, it is believed that Apta Julia was a vital city complete with all the aspects of a typical Roman settlement – a forum, thermal baths, a theatre and more. Due to some limited excavation, it is known that Roman traces lie at a 6-metre depth below present-day Apt.

A Roman Bridge

Many are unaware of the existence of Pont Julien, and indeed some visitors stumble upon it while visiting the most well known of these villages, Bonnieux.

Named after the nearby town of Julia Apta, now Apt, this ancient and fantastic stone bridge built in the year 3BC stands majestically just off the D900 from Avignon to Apt. Used initially by Roman soldiers and traders, it went on to carry vehicular traffic for more than two millennia.

Pont Julien Veloroute Luberon @Vauclusedreamer

The Pont Julien originally carried the Via Domitia, the Roman Road from Italy to Spain. Built with the limestone blocks from the Luberon Mountains, no mortar was used in this bridge that straddles the Calavon River. The portals between the arches allowed flood water through, and the continued existence of this beautiful structure testifies to the genius of the Roman engineers who built it.

Practical Information

Musée d’Apt (website)
14 Place du Postel
84400 Apt
Closed on Sundays and Mondays

L’ancien Musée d’Histoire et d’Archéologie
The archaeological collections are accessible only with a reservation and during guided tours in the Apta Julia Annex.

Pays d’Apt Tourisme (website)
788 Avenue Victor Hugo
84400 Apt
Telephone: +33 (0)4 90 74 03 18

Where to Stay?

Apartments: Cent Cinq welcomes guests all year round for short and long stays. These newly renovated self-catering apartments are located in an 18th-century townhouse in Apt. The vibrant market town in the heart of the Luberon Valley is a great place to stay during your holidays. Each apartment has a bedroom and bathroom and an open plan kitchen and living area and sleeps a maximum of 3 guests.

Villa: If you are looking for a perfect holiday rental property with a heated pool, Les Vallons sleeps 12 people. This holiday rental delivers complete seclusion near the beautiful Luberon National Park and charming villages. Les Vallons is a fully restored hamlet in the countryside near the provençal town of Cucuron.

Countryside Farmhouse: Chez Manon is an 18th-century farmhouse (French “mas”) that has been restored to reflect its provençal origins while incorporating modern comforts. It has a heated pool, professionally landscaped grounds, well-equipped open plan living and five comfortable bedrooms.

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Julie Whitmarsh

Julie Whitmarsh

Julie and her husband Andy started visiting the Vaucluse area 25 years ago & over the years have increased the amount of time they spend there with their growing family. She has a deep affection for the area, finding it is a great place to visit, where the whole family can relax and enjoy time together.

She longs for the day when she can ‘up-sticks’ from her home on Dartmoor & relocate to the Luberon and spend her days cycling, walking, visiting markets & brocante fairs and of course enjoying the local food and drink.

Her blog VaucluseDreamer gives her a space to highlight some of her favourite things about the area from places to visit to particular activities that she and her family all enjoy.

She hopes one day it will be a place where she can share the process of renovating a house in France, but at the moment that will have to wait.

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