This weekend, I had the occasion to spend 1 day and 2 nights in the heart of NÎMES
, France, one of the very few mid-sized french cities I never had the chance to visit. It's located in the eastern part of the newly-created region of Occitanie (more precisely in the Languedoc, department of the Gard), between Montpellier and Marseille.
To tell the whole story, in fact, I was stuck in a very small village in the middle of the Cévennes - an isolated mountainous area located in the centre-south of France (department of Lozère). The carsharing service cancelled my ride at the last minute (because they realized that I was a man and the lady that was supposed to car-lift me didn't like to carshare with men. Kind of rude). As I was stuck in the middle of nowhere, I had no other choice than hitchhiking to get somewhere else, at least to a place where I could figure a way to get back to Paris, where I live at this moment.
So I sat in the middle of a roundabout holding a sign that said «Alès», the name of a town located southward, not too far, where I knew there was a SNCF train station. Lots of people passed, then a young woman around my age, 30ish, stopped. She was very nice and was heading to Nîmes. She was moving from Nîmes to Mende for work and drove this road several times a week, trying to get all of her things into her new apartment. So she took me to Nîmes. I was glad because I knew it was a bigger city (~150 000 intra-muros, and ~265 000 in the urban area). And I didn't know the place at all ! Plus, the weather was so good in Southern France, that I told myself, why not spend the weekend in a beautiful town I don't know, instead of heading straight back to cold(ish) grey rainy Paris.
That was a good bet. I was charmed by the heart of the French Rome (on la surnomme la petite Rome
ou bien la Rome française
, en français). I took a hotel room downtown and started exploring.
First, the weather was extremely great for the middle of March : 28°C, sunshine, with a good breeze. Lush nature... as spring was coming back in force ; blooming trees, flowers everywhere...
I was captivated by the history of this city that was already an important capital in the mediterranean celtic world. It was an oppidum 2 centuries BC, and then became a roman colony in 28 BC. It is said that the city already had a population of ~60 000 during the golden era of the Roman Empire.
I only got 1 full day in Nîmes, so I stayed in the centre. Here are some pictures from this voyage-éclair
is a Roman amphitheatre, that was built around AD 90. Today, they host the Feria de Nîmes and other public events. According to Wiki, the building encloses an elliptical central space 133 m long by 101 m wide. It is ringed by 34 rows of seats supported by a vaulted construction.
La Maison Carrée
(translation : the Square House) it is one of the best preserved Roman temple façades to be found in the territory of the former Roman Empire. It was built around 4 to 7 AD and was dedicated, as a temple, to Gaius and Lucius Cesar. It was the designated place of worship for the nearby forum. It showcases 30 columns (height of 9 m.)
On the top of the city's highest hill, lies la Tour Magne
, or the Great Tower). The tower is what remains of the important roman fortification system. There was already a 18m high building on this site, 3 centuries before JC, and then, it was brought to an height of 36m under the Emperor Augustus and included in the defensive wall.