There are some old, old roads in the world. The Romans believed that the Via Domitia was the path of Heracles’ adventures in the Greek legends.This did not keep them from paving it so that it could unite their empire from Italy to Spain. It was one of the most important roads in the ancient world.
There are pieces of it all over, some of it under superhighays used by cars and trucks. The Romans knew where to run a road, and often we cannot improve on them. But this bit is especially cool. This is downtown Narbonne, once the Roman city of Narbo near the Mediterranean in France. Doesn’t this thing look like a swimming pool?
But no. This is right in the center of the old city. There’s a restaurant, under the awning visible in the center. Those things that looked like tightly corralled sheep are actually stacked cafe chairs and tables, waiting for a warmer day so that you can dine outside. The large white building to the left is a discount department store — see the cheap blouses in the window. And here is a piece of the Via Domitia in the main plaza. In the 90s the city fathers realized they had a tourist site here, so they tidied the site up with mosaic, added the verge to keep people from accidents, and stairs so you can go down and stand on the road that the Romans used. This is how history is around here. It’s in museums all right. But it’s also right here in the middle of town, so you have to step around it if you want a cup of coffee.