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Ancient thermal baths

Vue des restes de la palestre et des hypocaustes de l'Hôtel de Sade

Archaeological digs carried out before the Second World War by Jules Formigé and Henri Rolland revealed the only ancient building visible today in Saint-Rémy-de-Provence : a vast thermal complex dating from the 4th century AD.

Ancient thermal baths in the heart of Saint-Rémy-de-Provence

It wasn't until the mid-1990s that Alain Bouet resumed his study of this ancient complex, drawing up a general plan of the visible remains and critically re-reading Henri Rolland's notebooks, as part of a project devoted to public and private thermal baths in Narbonne Gaul.

Soundings carried out in October 2009 in the south courtyard of the Hôtel de Sade provided new information that clarified the physiognomy of the Saint-Rémy-de-Provence spa complex.

Lastly, a more recent dig in 2011, coordinated by the Centre archéologique du Var, completed the plan of the spa complex and proposed a reconstruction of part of the underfloor heating system (hypocaust visible in the south courtyard).

Plan of the spa complex

  • The frigidarium (cold-water bathing room):

This rectangular building is not known in its entirety, as some of its walls were taken from the Modern Period building. Its walls are still 9 to 10 metres high, and end in an apsidal pool.
A second rectangular pool opens into the north wall of the room through a 4.10-metre-wide bay surmounted by a semicircular arch.

  • The tepidarium (moderate-temperature baths):

On the south side, an opening no longer visible since Henri Rolland's restoration provided access to a heated quadrangular room comprising 4 semicircular niches with cul-de-sac arches and hypocaust floors.

  • The laconium (sauna):

The tepidarium communicates to the east with another hypocaust room heated by two praefurnia (fireplaces).

  • The palestra :

A space designed for physical exercise, it is now occupied by the inner courtyard of the Hôtel de Sade.

The complex ends with a hot room featuring 2 swimming pools, partially covered by today's houses.

The buildings of the ancient thermal baths, built of small limestone rubble, were raised and reused throughout the medieval period as a seigneurial dwelling, then as churches and finally to house the Tithe House (where the fruits of this tax levied by the Archbishop of Avignon were stored).

Vue de la cour intérieure de l’Hôtel de Sade avec les restes d’un hypocauste
Vue de la cour intérieure de l’Hôtel de Sade avec les restes d’un hypocauste


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