Last Friday I hopped on the TGV (high-speed train) after work to take the train to Marseilles. My friend picked me up at Gare Saint-Charles as he always does, and we caught up on the drive to his place.
Saturday morning he and his family and I had oeufs à la coque—I’m pretty sure it was my first one ever. He couldn’t find the egg cups, so to my amusement, we passed around this chicken his son had made in preschool and took turns eating our eggs.We then headed off to Nimes, about an hour and a half drive away. I found it to be a charming town. My friend and I both remarked several times how clean it was.The small, gently winding cobblestone streets with little boutiques reminded me of Aix-en-Provence, though my friend told me that Nimes was less bourgeois. We entered this Romanesque church called Saint-Paul. A Romanesque church with a palm tree in front! May I never lose this sense of wonder upon seeing places like this.And what about an arena in the middle of the city? The official symbol of Nimes is the crocodile, but the bull is close behind. This figure in front of the arena is partially composed of nuts, bolts, and keys that melt into the material.Without a doubt, for me the crowning experience of the day was experiencing the Jardins de la Fontaine. Before entering, you walk alongside a canal with a fountain at the end.
The public park has many varied features, all equally stunning. There was this basin with many orange, white, and gray fish that we watched for a while. These staircases are not just staircases. They’re works of art.Beyond the steps, there are ascending paths surrounded by greenery and flowers. None of it is apparent from down below, which gave me a sense of discovery as we turned each leafy corner. At the top is the Tour Magne, which dates back to the third century BC.
Sunday was rainy, so it was mostly spent in the car and indoors, but I didn’t mind. There is a road I love that curves along a rocky hill with the Mediterranean Sea on the other side, so when my friend lamented on the weather, I requested that we take that drive. What a delicious pleasure to be driven around. I tried not to feel too guilty that if I weren’t there that weekend, they would definitely have been at the motorcycle convention taking place.
My friend’s daughter holding my borrowed umbrella provided additional entertainment, first by being so cute and second by being knocked to the ground by a gust of wind. Her dad and brother certainly had a laugh. The poor kid—she wasn’t hurt but from her sulky face I could see her pride was. It didn’t stop the pint-sized fille from frolicking with the adult-sized umbrella again, though. I will have to tell my mom that story, as my cheery flowery umbrella was a Christmas gift from her.It’s amazing how a weekend can feel like a vacation. Life can be a bit stressful at times. I find that what helps is not necessarily physically getting away from your problems (unless your problem is cold weather or a specific person, you’re not going to escape them by running away), but rather spending time with people who see the best version of you.
Next time I would like to make it to the Pont du Gard, a Roman aqueduct bridge forty-five minutes from the center of Nimes, and Arles, a town where Van Gogh spent part of his life.