Saturday, October 22, 2011

Nimes

Maison Carree at sunrise.
Nimes has the most impressive collection of Roman buildings still standing anywhere, including the most complete Roman arena.  The city is in the middle of rebuilding it's roads into town, as well as turning the entire old town into more pedestrianised areas.  What used to be a parking lot next to the arena is now paved with huge stone blocks.  Most of the parking areas have been moved underground.  When they finally finish, it will be amazing.
Maison Carree is beautiful symetrical, and while a small temple by Roman standards, is quite large.  If you look closely, Bill is standing by the front column.

We started our day in the dark, as Bill wanted to be at the Maison Carree just as the sun came up.  Due to all the construction, bad signage, and a confused BIB, there were a few tense moments, but we made it in time.  The Maison Carre is a small white temple, twice as long as it is wide, beautifully symetrical columns, and set in a square that has been paved again with those huge blocks of stone.  The steps are are quite steep.
The carving on the top of one of the columns.

Walking on through town, we arrive at the Arena.  The French are in the process of looking at each stone to see how they are surviving.  There is concern that several have stress fractures that are new.  Seems to me it's all the cars and people who daily use it.  Maybe even those concerts that have?

The arena is still used for bullfighting.  The statue is one of the famous toreadors who was born in Nimes.

Nimes coat of arms is a crocodile with a rope around it's neck, under a palm tree.  I don't believe he was a native.

While we are standing in the square near the old clock tower, which is full of people enjoying their morning coffee and crossaint, a small boy runs up to Bill.  "Excusez-moi Monsieur, ete-vous Pere Noel?"  His face was full of hope and excitement, could this really be Pere Noel?  Bill looked down at him, smiled and simply answered, "Oui!"  Pure joy!  The smile suddenly brightened to a million watts, he jumped up and down a bit then ran back to his parents shouting, "Oui, Oui, Pere Noel!"  Everyone at the cafes looked in our direction and smiled or laughed.
Pere Noel sighted in Nimes! 

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