Sunday, May 3, 2009

Nîmes: Thursday 30th April 2009

Today’s destination was Nîmes another destination 25 minutes from our rental abode. This city has a major Roman influence. Quite literally there are roman walls, and temples everywhere.

The highlight is the Arènes, described as the best preserved Roman amphitheatre. It was built about 1 AD and could accommodate 24,000 people. At one games the sponsor had brought in lions from North Africa for the spectacle. There was a good audio guide that walked us through the history and structural details. Today bull fighting is held here through summer and the Nîmois are mad about this activity.

The city came back to prosperity in the 17th & 18th century through the textile trade and serge de Nîmes became known worldwide as Denim. The symbol of the city of Nîmes is the crocodile. It has been suggested this is the symbol adopted by clothing manufacturer Lacoste.

The other big Roman edifice was the Maison Carrée – one of the Roman world’s best preserved temples.

Opposite the Maison Carrée was the new Modern Art museum designed by Sir Norman Foster. We didn’t go in, but it didn’t look in any way as inspiring from the outside as some of his other buildings we have seen.

A quite enjoyable and pleasant city.

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