Vienna, France’s Most Beautiful City “Nobody’s Ever Heard Of”

Stepping into Place Charles-de-Calle (formerly Place du Palais) on a beautiful sunny day at lunchtime is like stepping back in time. Like the descent of a DeLorean or H.G. It is not as if one finds oneself in an environment worthy of a Wells novel: there are no traces of smoking tires or visions of the future. No, we go to ancient Rome in all its splendor and architectural majesty.

Not the most famous president of France, he takes center stage in the square that bears his name. This role falls to a much older, but no less famous, head of state: Augustus, the first Roman emperor, and his wife Livia, to whom the temple that occupies most of the space is dedicated. We are faced with a masterpiece of ancient art with sixteen Corinthian columns and perfect symmetry, the marvel of I.R century, its form and its state of preservation were equaled on French soil only by the almost identically designed Maison Cary at Nîmes.

Streams and vineyards

The building seems to have escaped the ravages of time. The honor of appearing in a sentence that evokes Nims is already an achievement for him. In fact, the great city of Courdes is generally considered to have the finest remains of the Roman Empire in France – not only with its Maison Garry, but also with its perfect-circular amphitheatre, which always hosts major summer events. But we’re not on the cards, or indeed south of France stricto sensu.

No, the Temple of Augustus and Livia is actually almost 225 kilometers to the north, in the department of Iser, and in a city little known to travelers, much less! Vienna is arguably the most beautiful French city no one has ever heard of. Not only because of this temple, but also because of its geography, one of the most important rivers in France, rolling its relentless waves at the foot of the mountain where it all gathers. Says Rhone vineyards. The slopes around Vienna are full of them: its clusters of grenache, viognier, camares and other mourvèdre flourish under the Gallic sun.

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At this point, a clarification is necessary: ​​in fact, Vienna is a provincial city of 30,000 inhabitants, whose closest neighbor Leon is eclipsed by 35 kilometers. But visit during the warmer months when dining inside or on the terrace at the small restaurants on rue du Musée and rue de la Table-Ronde, at Meuse or L’Esstangot, which serves spicy lamb shoulder. Specializing in “crigues” (fried potato fritters, typical of the Rhône region) garnished with shrimps, mushrooms and many other seasonings.

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