Dave had a 4-day weekend in honor of All Saints and All Souls Days, so we decided to take some day trips to visit some of the places close by that we’d been wanting to see.
Yesterday, we hopped a train and headed to Nimes. I didn’t really know much about it, so we got our guidebook out and headed for the train station. After a battle trying to get tickets at a kiosk, we were on our way. (Why they will let you pay online with a credit card, actually take the money, then not give you the tickets at the kiosk because they can’t validate the card used because it doesn’t have one of those little European microchips on the front, but was good enough to take the funds in the first place, is beyond us. Also, give us our money back.)
We arrived around 1:30 and immediately began walking to the tourism office to see about things to do. On the way there, we got sidetracked by a huge Roman coliseum (the Arena of Nimes). Thus, the tourism office was no longer necessary, as Nimes has a bundled ticket available, that gets visitors in to all three of their historic attractions for just 10€, compared to 7,90€ for just a coliseum ticket.
So we walked all around the city, visiting each monument before they closed around 4:15/4:30.
First was the coliseum, then around the corner to the Maison Carrée, which was beautiful from the outside but when we went in to check it out, seemed to to be just a movie theatre where one might be able to watch a gladiator movie. Hmmm. We opted out of the movie, given the time we had to try and squeeze in the third monument.
From there, we trekked through Les Jardins de la Fontaine, which was a giant park with beautiful fountains and trees…lots of space where people were playing bocce ball, soccer, and sitting on benches and the grass chatting. It also might be the number one place to learn to ride a bike because there were training wheels galore.
Through the gardens we went, and began the hike up to the Tour Magne, essentially the Nimes watchtower. Of course, it was an old watchtower and certainly not even wide enough for an elevator shaft, so the number of people being let in was limited. We anxiously checked our watches as the clock ticked closer to 3:55, 20 minutes before 4:15, when the last people would be allowed to climb the stairs to the top. Luckily, because we already had our tickets from the bundle, we were able to get in. We climbed the narrow (so narrow you practically hug the people you pass) spiral staircase until we reached the top, which was no bigger than a 6-foot by 4-foot landing where we all huddled to snap photos of the view high above Nimes.
After our monument tour was complete, we decided to find a snack somewhere and kill some time before our 6:15 train. We wandered around the cute village of Nimes, peeking in shops here and there and finally stopping at a creperie, where we enjoyed the first crepes of our French stay!
We went the sweet crepe route, and I enjoyed mine with chocolate sauce, while Dave had Nutella (the hazelnut spread is a staple of French diets) inside his. It tasted so good. I really need to learn to make crepes. Dave says it isn’t hard, but I’m fairly convinced one of the special kitchen tools they used to spread the batter would make it easier to learn. He is convinced I just have an obsession with kitchen gadgets. He is right.
After we ate, we wandered around the town a bit more until we had to be at the train station, right as it began to get dark (we had daylight savings time end last weekend).
Nimes was such a lovely place to visit. The city was clean (cleaner than Montpellier…I only saw dog poop once), granted it’s about 1/3 of the population, but it was more my speed. Dave and I both agreed that if it weren’t a 30 minute train ride to school, we’d like to live there. They seemed to have nicer shops and it wasn’t as crowded, but still had a vibrant, city-like feel.
We took a ton of pictures and apologize in advance for the excessive amount of the coliseum and the jardins de la fontaine.
Today, Dave is taking some time to work on a paper for school, but tomorrow we plan to check out the Musée Fabree, which offers free admission on the first Sunday of every month. It’s around the corner from our house, overlooking the esplande, so we figure it’s about time we check it out.
I could get used to this 4-day weekend thing that Dave has going…