Sunday, January 23, 2011

Roman Ruins and Bad Puns in Nîmes

          When you think “Nîmes,” (pronounced “Neem”) if you don’t think, “Uh… where is that?” you tend to think Roman ruins, and very intact ones at that. Last Saturday, we took the hour long train ride from Lyon to Nîmes in order to see them all. The first of many bad jokes came shortly after we arritved at Port d’Auguste, the old gateway into the city. My friend Sunny sat back, stared at it wonderingly, and exclaimed “It’s unbeneemable!” We wasted no time in glaring and kicking him.

Port d'Auguste Pros: Um... it's very old?
Port d'Auguste Cons: Not much to look at. It's just arches and a statue, surrounded by noise and traffic. Also counted against it is the fact that it was 8am and we hadn't yet had breakfast at the patisserie we would find around the corner.
Final grade: C-

The next site was the Jardin de la Fontaine, or the Fountain Gardens:
The Gardens
Sunny, "discovering" the Temple of Dianna

Tour Magne
Pros: The temple of Diana was pretty cool, covered in graffiti that was from as long ago as the 1800s. The park also had gardens, fountains (go figure), a fake cave, palm trees (seemingly out of place in France, non?), and the Tour Magne, a Roman tower built on the highest part of the city as a lookout.
Cons: It cost money to enter, and boy are we cheap.
Final Grade: A-

Then came the Castellum, where Romans used to get their water:

Pros: They are impressively old, and Roman.  Also comes with the nifty fact that it was the ending place for the Pont du Gard aqueduct water.
Cons: Yaaaaaaawn.
Final Grade: C-

Then a quick lunch of tartiflette (melted cheese, ham, onions, and potatoes in a giant lump of ugly deliciousness) and we were at the Maison Carrée:

Pros: It's an incredibly complete, perfectly restored, blindingly white temple surrounded by picturesque cafés. The ceiling is also pretty nifty. 
Cons: The interior has been modernized and turned into a movie theater for a film about gladiators, which we didn't care about, and it costs money, which we don't like to spend.
Final Grade: A-

Last but not least was the Amphitheater:

Pros: It's entirely complete and still used for performances and concerts. You can climb to the top and take a look at the city, or lie on the benches and tan while you listen to the ridiculous audio guide commentary, complete with pompous accent. There's even a mini-museum about gladiators, with some of their old sandals and armor.
Cons: It's much smaller than the Coliseum, but still pretty cool regardless.
Final grade: A+++

Sunny: “It’s not what it… sneems!”
Ollie: “I’m feeling some real aneemosity towards you right now… can you stop?” 

Invaluable Lessons Learned: 
  1. Bad jokes do not make friends.
  2. Pigeons will poop on anything, no matter how much it is ancient, cool, or imbued with historical value. 

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