Monday, 8 December 2008

France: Nîmes

Two TGVs from Toulouse - one a double-decker - took us the 300kms to Nîmes in time for elevenses, in the shadow of the elliptical Roman amphitheatre. In the absence of left-luggage facilities at Nîmes station, we had to carry our rucksacks up Mont Cavalier to the (also Roman) Tour Magne: it was just as well we didn't know how steep it was, or we would certainly have missed out on the view and a gentle walk down to the Jardins de la Fontaine.

I know it always helps to see somewhere when the sun is shining, but we very much enjoyed Nîmes, a stylish city, with its generous streets and rich history. This is the façade of Agrippa's Maison Carrée: the other end, restored recently, has come out all bright and shining: a bit too white for my taste. The building has been variously a temple, a Christian church, a meeting place, a stable, a storehouse and a museum. You enter it up an immensely steep flight of steps.

Norman Foster was responsible for the clearance and layout of the surrounding square, and for building an adjacent art gallery. It looks rather fine, but we didn't have time to investigate before our train North.

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