Exploring the Roman Ruins of Nimes

As was alluded to in my last blog, I am finally reunited with my family here in the small town of Rodilhan, outside of Nimes, in the South of France. One thing I forgot to mention the other day was the small plane we took to get from Lisbon to the South of France. Here it is…

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It’s so tiny it has its own stairs!

The seating configuration of this plane was one row of seats on the left side, and two row of seats on the right. I got to sit on the side with the one row of seats, AND had the exit row, which means that I got to have a window seat and a aisle seat at the same time, with extra leg room to boot. Best airplane ride ever!

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I can’t emphasize enough how happy I am to be reunited with my dad once again. And to know that he’s out of the hospital and on the mend. By the way, Boo hasn’t been replaced. This is Papa Boo, a get-well bear for my dad from Portugal… 🙂

Anyway, after arriving, things have been busy. Last night, we were able to meet with some really cool people from the Terol family’s congregation in Nimes. Although the congregation is French, there are Hmong and English groups there as well, so it’s really neat to hear about how the work is going here. Oh, and most of the people there didn’t speak English so my French REALLY got a workout. Talk about clearing out some cobwebs in my brain to access my high school French vocabulary! Then, today, a couple from the congregation invited us over for homemade crepes with nutella, homemade jams (fig, apricot & strawberry) and sparking wine. Delicieux!

In between meeting with the friends, we were able to do a bit of touring. Frenchie’s father has been a great tour guide, very knowledgeable about the history of Nimes. He was able to show us the 4 major sights of Nimes, well-known for their Roman influences…

1) Tour Magne (aka “Great Tower”)
This tower was built by the Romans at the highest point in Nimes to be a part of their city walls.

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The ruins of the Tour Magne

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Pretty flowers at the base of the tower

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More pretty landscaping at the base of the tower

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300 steps to get to the top!

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But the views at the top are worth it. From here, you can see the arena and cathedral.

2) Maison Carree (aka “Square House”)
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Contrary to what the name implies, this isn’t a normal house, this was a temple built in 19BC by the Romans, dedicated to the sons of Agrippa. It’s supposedly one of the best preserved temples anywhere. There’s also a 3D movie about the “Heroes of Nimes” inside. And nothing else. A bit of a waste of valuable space, if you ask me.

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The ceilings on the outside terrace. Apparently this temple was recently cleaned and therefore looks so bright

3) Jardins de la Fontaine (aka “Gardens of the Fountain”). Here we could see traces of an ancient civilization nestled among the trees…

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True to its name, the waters play prominantly in the gardens

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These used to be Roman baths. Now they are filled with ducks in yucky water.

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Kitty cat tries to convince us to go back up to the Tour Magne

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Ruins of a temple to the goddess Diana, the goddess of hunting

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Exterior ruins of the temple

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Either those Romans are short or dad’s really tall…

4) L’Arene (the Arena). This amphitheater, built in the 1st or 2nd century by the Romans, is one of the best preserved amphitheaters in France. They still have bullfighting and concerts here.

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The arena, which looks like a mini version of the Coliseum in Rome

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The walkways outside of the arena

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Looking down on the arena floor. Apparently “arena” means “sand” in latin, which refers to the sand flooring the Romans used, which needed to be turned over every few hours due to blood from the gladiatorial games. Gross!

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Views from the top of the Arena. You can see Tour Magne sitting up there on a hill in the background

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Looking down on the reminders of a civilization, now past

After all this, we had to say a sad good-bye to Pat, who headed via train to Paris, where she’ll catch a flight to return to San Francisco. Another traveling companion is no more. (sniff) Have a safe flight, Pat!

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Bonne nuit! Tomorrow: Aix-les-Bains…

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