Vienne, located on the Rhône, is a delightful town best known for its attractive Roman ruins. The town's prestigious history dates back a few thousand years, to when Vienne was the capital city of the Celtic Allobrogian tribe, before it was transformed under the Roman emperor Diocletian into the centre of the Dioecesis Viennensis, his territory that encompassed most of southern France. This strong Roman centre then became a bishopric in the 3rd century AD, with the advent of Christianity to the region.
Now ruled by bishops, Vienne experienced something of a heyday, and in 879 Count Boso became King of Burgundy - meaning the town was now the administrative centre of a sizeable kingdom. In 1450-1, the town came under the dominion of France, and in the following years Vienne's importance began to decline in favour of Lyon, though it remained an important communications hub for the region.
More about Vienne
Vienne still features a range of buildings from most stages of its long past. The most impressive of these is the Roman city forum, which was converted into a church during the Middle Ages and is still in remarkably good condition. There are some ruins in the town; these include sections of the Roman baths, and the atmospheric ruins of Vienne's medieval castle.