Nimes

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.112.marseilles.2015aWe 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.112.nimes.2015bThe small, gently winding cobblestone streets with little boutiques reminded me of Aix-en-Provence, though my friend told me that Nimes was less bourgeois.112.nimes.2015c 112.nimes.2015dWe 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.112.nimes.2015eAnd 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.112.nimes.2015fWithout 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.

112.nimes.2015g

112.nimes.2015h112.nimes.2015iThe 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. 112.nimes.2015j112.nimes.2015k112.nimes.2015lThese staircases are not just staircases. They’re works of art.112.nimes.2015mBeyond 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.112.noyon.2015It’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.

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14 thoughts on “Nimes

  1. It’s nice to hear that you thought Nîmes was nice. With my in-laws in the Gard, Nîmes has lost a lot of its charm for me (we go there for the train station and for the big box shopping on the outskirts). The Tour Magne is older than you may have realized: it’s pre-Roman, so built in the 3rd century BC. If you go to Pont du Gard in the future, make sure to stop by Uzès, which is just a few km down the road. It’s a really beautiful little town and the market is famous in the area.

    • Thanks for the precision. It’s hard to imagine how long it’s been standing there– so long before us. I’ve made a note of Uzès for next time, as ‘beautiful’ and ‘market’ are both things that sound appealing.

  2. You visit the coolest places! Didn’t know Nimes was so beautiful. The arena is amazing. Guess there’s a lot of Roman influence there.

    • Hey, it’s only a train ride away for you, too! And doable in just one weekend.

      Traveling in France has made me want to discover the U.S. in the same way– I’ve traveled quite a bit there, but there’s so much more to see.

  3. I’m slightly off topic but… you NEVER had oeufs à la coque?? I know it’s a British tradition too, “egg and soldiers” (“soldiers” being the “mouillettes”, the toasted bread you dip in).

    Many cultures find runny eggs very gross, I know. I love it!

    • I eat fried eggs, scrambled eggs, hard-boiled eggs… but I never think to make soft-boiled eggs! I think my mom grew up eating them for breakfast in the Philippines, though.

  4. Echoing Zhu’s comments, I always forget that Americans don’t do soft-boiled eggs! They’re such a childhood staple for me. Although we called the bread soldiers, we used to say “dip, dip, dip, my little ship” when dunking them in the eggs. 🙂

    I liked your comment about not losing your sense of wonder, it is easy to get blasé about stuff that would have knocked my socks off when I first came to Europe!

    • Ha ha ha, that is so cute! I would crack up if I saw a kid chanting that.

      I think we can find awe-inspiring things in our hometown, too– I still do when I go back to the States.

  5. Great pictures! And may you never lose that sense of wonder indeed! I’ve been thinking about how to deal with life’s stress lately (and always) and I really like how you said that it’s often better to not try to escape but to spend time with people who see the best version of you (especially if your work of your situation doesn’t allow you to be the best version of yourself). Thanks for the reminder.

  6. That public park with the water features is stunning! It looks like you were rewarded with some (slightly? maybe? okay so rain one day…) better weather for making the trek down from Paris.

    • Thank you for sharing my appreciation of the park!
      Apparently it didn’t rain in Paris that weekend (isn’t that always the way…). It was warmer in Marseilles, though.

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