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Riez is a commune
Communes of France
The commune is the lowest level of administrative division in the French Republic. French communes are roughly equivalent to incorporated municipalities or villages in the United States or Gemeinden in Germany...

 in the Alpes-de-Haute-Provence
Alpes-de-Haute-Provence is a French department in the south of France, it was formerly part of the province of Provence.- History :Nord-de-Provence was one of the 83 original departments created during the French Revolution on 4 March 1790...

 department in southeastern France
The French Republic , The French Republic , The French Republic , (commonly known as France , is a unitary semi-presidential republic in Western Europe with several overseas territories and islands located on other continents and in the Indian, Pacific, and Atlantic oceans. Metropolitan France...



The densely-built village sits where two small rivers join—the Auvestre and the Colostre—in a glacially-widened valley.



Riez is located in a district of fields of commercially-grown lavender
The lavenders are a genus of 39 species of flowering plants in the mint family, Lamiaceae. An Old World genus, distributed from Macaronesia across Africa, the Mediterranean, South-West Asia, Arabia, Western Iran and South-East India...

, which support a honey-making industry. Truffles are found: there is a weekly truffle market on Wednesdays from late November through March.


The domed hill was the hillfort headquarters of the Reii a Celto-Ligurian
The Ligures were an ancient people who gave their name to Liguria, a region of north-western Italy.-Classical sources:...

 tribe, who gave their name to the Roman community in the valley floor near it: Alebaece Reiorum it was called, then Alebaece Reiorum Appolinares (from the temple
Roman temple
Ancient Roman temples are among the most visible archaeological remains of Roman culture, and are a significant source for Roman architecture. Their construction and maintenance was a major part of ancient Roman religion. The main room housed the cult image of the deity to whom the temple was...

 of Apollo
Apollo is one of the most important and complex of the Olympian deities in Greek and Roman mythology...

 of which four Corinthian columns
Corinthian order
The Corinthian order is one of the three principal classical orders of ancient Greek and Roman architecture. The other two are the Doric and Ionic. When classical architecture was revived during the Renaissance, two more orders were added to the canon, the Tuscan order and the Composite order...

 yet stand). The name evolved to Regium (to the 8th century) then Regina (to the 11th century).

A bishop of Riez is known from an early date, though the first bishop is purely legendary. At the beginning of the 5th century, a certain St. Prosper of Reggio in Emilia figures in the history of Riez and was perhaps its bishop; however, the first certainly known bishop, according to the Catholic Encyclopedia, is St. Maximus (433–460), who succeeded St. Honoratus as Abbot of Lérins
Lérins Abbey
Lérins Abbey is a Cistercian monastery on the island of Saint-Honorat, one of the Lérins Islands, on the French Riviera, with an active monastic community....

 and who, in 439, held a council at Riez with a view to effecting ecclesiastical reforms in the churches of southern Gaul
Gaul was a region of Western Europe during the Iron Age and Roman era, encompassing present day France, Luxembourg and Belgium, most of Switzerland, the western part of Northern Italy, as well as the parts of the Netherlands and Germany on the left bank of the Rhine. The Gauls were the speakers of...

. His name is commemorated in the Mont St-Maxime, which is surmounted by the Chapelle St-Maxim (a nunnery). His successor, St. Faustus of Riez
Faustus of Riez
Saint Faustus of Riez was an early Bishop of Riez in Southern Gaul , the best known and most distinguished defender of Semipelagianism.-Biography:...

 (ca 461– ca. 493), also formerly Abbot of Lérins, was noted for his writings against Predestinationists; it was to him that Sidonius Apollinaris
Sidonius Apollinaris
Gaius Sollius Apollinaris Sidonius or Saint Sidonius Apollinaris was a poet, diplomat, and bishop. Sidonius is "the single most important surviving author from fifth-century Gaul" according to Eric Goldberg...

 dedicated his Carmen Eucharisticum, in gratitude for hospitality received at Riez. Contumeliosus of Riez
Contumeliosus of Riez
In 534 Pope John II deposed the adulterous Bishop Contumeliosus of Riez , and named Caesarius of Arles administrator of the diocese. This is notable for being the first act of jurisdiction of this kind recorded of a bishop of Rome....

 was deposed for adultery in 534. At a much later date Robert Ceneau
Robert Céneau
Robert Céneau was a French bishop, historian, and controversialist.He was born in Paris. In 1513 he became doctor of the Faculty of Theology in the Sorbonne, and in 1515 was made Bishop of Vence...

 (1530–1532), the pulpit orator afterwards Bishop of Avranches, and Gui Bentivoglio (1622–1625), the papal nuncio in France and a defender of French interests at Rome, who played an important role under Louis XIII
Louis XIII of France
Louis XIII was a Bourbon monarch who ruled as King of France and of Navarre from 1610 to 1643.Louis was only eight years old when he succeeded his father. His mother, Marie de Medici, acted as regent during Louis' minority...

, are also mentioned among the bishops of Riez. The diocese was suppressed on 29 November 1801, and its territory included in the diocese of Digne http://www.catholic-hierarchy.org/diocese/ddign.html.

The 5th-century free-standing baptistery
In Christian architecture the baptistry or baptistery is the separate centrally-planned structure surrounding the baptismal font. The baptistry may be incorporated within the body of a church or cathedral and be provided with an altar as a chapel...

 (its small dome rebuilt in the 12th century) is one of only a few surviving from Christian Gaul; it was built about 100 meters from the healing waters that had been sacred to Aesculapius
Asclepius is the God of Medicine and Healing in ancient Greek religion. Asclepius represents the healing aspect of the medical arts; his daughters are Hygieia , Iaso , Aceso , Aglæa/Ægle , and Panacea...

, son of Apollo, to whom a dedicatory inscription was found in the 17th century. In the Christianized landscape
The historical phenomenon of Christianization is the conversion of individuals to Christianity or the conversion of entire peoples at once...

 Riez retained its reputation for healing waters into the 19th century http://www.beyond.fr/villages/riez.html. The former cathedral
A cathedral is a Christian church that contains the seat of a bishop...

, located on the axis of the baptistery, was constructed on top of a much larger Roman public building from the 1st–2nd century; it was destroyed at the end of the 15th century. Excavations have revealed a 5th-century structure in the field across the road east of the baptistery. The present small cathedral is dedicated to Nôtre-Dame-de-l'Assomption.

In the Middle Ages, the new structures of the town were gradually built away from the junction adjacent to the rivers to slightly higher ground because of a rising river. Alluvial silt deposited in the beds of the small rivers—a familiar result of deforestation
Deforestation is the removal of a forest or stand of trees where the land is thereafter converted to a nonforest use. Examples of deforestation include conversion of forestland to farms, ranches, or urban use....

 in the rivers' upper watersheds—had raised the beds of the rivers and extended the floodplain. Deep alluvium still covers much of the Roman site of Reii Appolinares.


Today the baptistery contains a small archaeological museum of altars and funerary stele
A stele , also stela , is a stone or wooden slab, generally taller than it is wide, erected for funerals or commemorative purposes, most usually decorated with the names and titles of the deceased or living — inscribed, carved in relief , or painted onto the slab...

s and a collection of Roman inscriptions, which include an inscribed taurobolium
In the Roman empire of the 2nd to 4th centuries, taurobolium referred to practices involving the sacrifice of a bull, which after mid-2nd century became connected with the worship of the Great Mother of the Gods; though not previously limited to her cultus, after 159 CE all private taurobolia...

altar. There is a cylindrical milestone from the Aurelian Way
Aurelian Way
Via Aurelia is an ancient highroad of Italy, the date of the construction of which is unknown. It ran from Rome to Alsium, where it reached the sea, and thence along the...

. In the Hôtel de ville
Seat of local government
In local government, a city hall, town hall or a municipal building or civic centre, is the chief administrative building of a city...

is the Natural History Museum of Provence.

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