My adventures in southern France travel blog

A friendly French goat

Roman temple of the imperial cult in Nimes (Maison Caree)

Looking up the massive columns of the Maison Caree

Roman amphitheater at Nimes is very well preserved although several tiers are...

The sands of the arena of the Roman amphitheater at Nimes

the medieval village of Sauve along the Vidourle River

A more modern bridge across the Vidourle River in the medieval village...

A turret in the wall of the village of Sauve

The narrow streets of Sauve

French girls enjoying the sun on the banks of the River Vidourle

I got up this morning with the bright Mediterranean sun shining through the slits around the window shutters. When we first got here I was wondering how I could get dressed in the morning with no curtains on the windows but then Richard showed me how to use the window shutters instead. So opening and closing the window shutters has become part of my morning and evening routine.

I made scrambled eggs for breakfast then we went for a walk around the farm property where our cottage is located. Our hosts have a couple of milking goats so I tried to get some good pictures of them then we walked down the lane to an old converted mill by the river and I took pictures of it. Our accomodations includes use of a very large and very clean swimming pool that is built out in a nearby field complete with a statue of Venus but it has only been in the high 60s and low 70s here (my kind of weather) so I doubt if the pool water is very warm.

After lunch we took off for Nimes. Nimes was a very important city in ancient times and has a restored Roman temple and a Roman amphitheater that is in really good condition as it is currently used for bull fights. We got a three day pass for all of the surrounding historical sites for only 11 Euros. It included admission to a short 3-D movie about the history of Nimes that was very well done even though Cecelia, a medieval reenactor, made fun of the less than authentic fencing in one of the segments. I thought the segment on gladiatorial fights was quite authentic with a properly attired Roman referee and a retiarius (net man with trident) and a Secutor battling it out with little blood spilled. Each time one of the gladiators was in danger of a mortal wound the referee would step in and separate the combatants. Finally one of the men went down and the referee looked to the crowd for a verdict and declared the victor without any further harm coming to his opponent. In historical times that type of encounter was far more common than the blood bath seen on the Starz' Spartacus: Blood and Sand series. The only thing that was not quite authentic was that the men were relatively svelt. In Roman times gladiators ate an almost vegetarian diet of barley gruel to put on a protective layer of fat and often appeared rather barrel-chested.

The movie was shown inside the temple so we climbed down the rather steep stairs (I had Cecelia walk next to me so if I bobbled she could keep me from falling since I promised you all I would not fall on this trip!) and walked several blocks to the Roman amphitheater. Although several tiers of the structure are now missing, what remains is in very good condition. It is significantly smaller than the Coliseum in Rome, though. With the upper tiers of the structure missing I could not see any remnants of the supports for the sun shades that were usually extended to shade the spectators on a hot day. I also did not see any numbers carved into the stone above the various entry doors that matched tokens given to attendees to tell them which door to use so ingress and egress could be accomplished in a relatively short time.

Thankfully, although the sand of the arena was carefully raked in preparation for a contest, there were no bull fights scheduled today. When we explored the interior access tunnels we came upon a small museum displaying several ornate matador costumes. But that is the closest to bull fighting I would like to get.

In the gift shop I bought my first kitchen shrine - a small snow globe containing a pair of battling gladiators atop a replica of the amphitheater. Each time I go on a trip I try to find a small souvenir that I can place on my kitchen window sill at home so when I'm cooking or washing dishes I can look at the souvenir and recall pleasant memories of a particular trip so the snow globe fit the bill.

We stopped by a boulangerie (French bakery) on the way back to our cottage and I bought a couple of sweet rolls for evening dessert. We weren't totally tired yet so we decided to drive on in to Sauve and explore the old part of the village that is built on a steep hillside adjacent to the river Vidourle. It was built centuries ago and has a bridge dating back to the 11th century along with remnants of fortifications, an oil mill, an abbey and convent. After exploring its narrow alleyways we finally returned to our cottage where Cecelia made us a delicious dinner of lamp chops, new potatoes and fresh green beans.

Tomorrow we plan to drive about an hour away to Orange and use our historical site pass to see their Roman remains that includes an ancient theater (for plays) and that medieval fortress we saw high on a rocky cliff when we were driving down on the motorway.

Note to my photographer friends - I'm afraid my images are "farm fresh" as I have only a rudimentary editor on my travel netbook. I'm sure they will look better after I give them the Topaz treatment!

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