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Vienne is located 30 miles (50kms) south of Lyon, on the Rhône River's left bank. With a recorded history dating back to the 3rd century, the city was once home to Roman emperors. Eventually Vienne became a part of the Burgundy kingdom and during this time Christianity flourished, with monasteries and churches constructed on the banks of the Rhône.
On a walking tour of the centre, it's easy to see the Roman influence. France's second-largest Roman theatre is here, and now hosts an annual jazz festival. There's also a temple to Augustus and Roman ruins at Cybele Garden. You can see across the Rhône at this point to one of France's largest Gallo-Roman archaeological sites: Saint-Romain-en-Gal.
There are numerous churches in and around the city, and a cathedral. Saint-André-le-Bas was once home to a cloistered abbey dating back to the 12th century. For the best views of the city and the Rhône, head to the top of Le Mont Pipet. This is one of five hills that surround the city. North of Le Mont Pipet is Mount Soloman, another of the hills, where you'll find the ruins of Chateau La Bâtie.
The city is relatively compact and walking to and from the attractions is possible. Local buses provide transport in and around the city as well. However, in order to explore the hills surrounding Vienne and other towns on the Rhône it's best to hire a car. It's recommended that you arrange for your rental car by booking online before you leave home.