France: Day Six in Nimes and Last Night in Montpellier
Another continental breakfast – fruit cocktail and tea. So, Carcassonne is the clear winner in that category. We caught “a” train to Nimes but not sure if it was actually the train we purchased a ticket for. In any case, we weren’t asked to leave, so it was all good.
There was a gaggle of junior cougars (just checked, I guess that’s a misnomer since they are solitary animals). Among the crassest individuals I’ve seen in a long time. Burnt out hair and body jewellery. Putting on make-up on the train and bitchin’ hard on someone. As we left the train, one of them spit on the stair. Classy, as I said.
Nimes streets proved to be about as much fun as Bezier (aka drunken Medieval city planners), but overall, it was clean and seemed quite nice.
The Arena is the biggest outside of Italy that is still operational and it has a great history. At various times the arches have been filled in so it could be used as a fortress, and/or a castle. Now it’s got little tents in it for some kind of market, and apparently they still hold concerts there. Oh, and the feria (bullfights) are held there too.
We were following little signs for the self-guided tour and came upon a “gladiator demonstration” for a group of school children. All of them were taking pictures of two 20-something guys who were going at it in full “300″ gear. The little boys were cheering for bloodshed and the little girls were blushing. Melle and I were casting lascivious glances at the actors. We just kept muttering Nom nom and taking a few pictures of our own.
From there, we managed to find the temple. This Roman temple is very well preserved but it was a pity that it was under construction, since we could really only see the front of it. We did go in, where they have a movie theatre showing a pretty cheesy 3D movie of the history of Nimes. They’ve uncovered some interesting old roman planning in the area around the foundation, so it would be good to see in a few years.
We went around a few streets using the “I think we go this way” method and got close to the park–Parc Le Jardin. Turned out to be a pretty amazing 18th Century kind of thing, and in the middle was Diana’s temple, which is a ruined Roman temple. Some monks used it for a while in later years before it fell apart.
I read also about a big “Tower” that was somewhere up on the hill behind the park, so we started what turned out to be a billion steps and paths upward until we found it. The tower is also in a bit of disrepair but they’ve bolstered it with a circular cement stair up the middle. I got about halfway up before my head pretty near exploded, so trooper Melle got to go to the top and take pictures.
Apparently the tower was almost collapsed in the 18th or 19th Century when some guy read one of Nostradamus’ prophecies and thought there was treasure buried under the tower. I guess he took out some of the foundation trying to find it :)
Since we had a ticket for a specific time home, we were judging on when to head back to the station and thought we had enough time to hit the cathedral before going to the station. On the way, we grabbed a baguette with ham and cheese from a street kiosk, where I’m pretty sure I saw a drug transaction go down between the vendor and a local teen. Anyway, as I mentioned, Medieval streets and all that. After some twists and turns and swearing we were going West when we were going South, we found the cathedral. This one had some amazing floor mosaics and was compact but nice.
Then to find the train station. Well, we looked at the map and went down, and then realized we had really gone up. Found an old man walking his dog beside a church and he was quick to tell us that he didn’t have his glasses. He got us a little ways on the right track but it turned out we needed to go left and not right at some boulevard. Result being that we were speed-walking the last couple of blocks to get to the station on time. Hot and sweaty by the time the train pulled in as this was probably the warmest day of the trip yet – a gorgeous 27 or so and sunny.
Back to Montpellier, a quick break at the hotel and then back to Place De La Comedie where there was a health fair going on. We had a cafe and people-watched for a bit and then tried the Polygon (the brand new shopping center). If the fashions are coming this way, look for lots of peasant blouses in a store near you soon.
Then we sat down at an ice cream place. Melle had some crazy chocolate thing and I had a milkshake that cost about 7 Euros (like, 11 dollars) – the ribbons on the straw were free. While we were sitting there, we could hear some kind of oompah band with snake charmers off in the distance. Turned out to be this really cool “Moroccan” band that had brass and drums and one authentic looking Moroccan. They were rockin’ it and the crowd really enjoyed themselves. They were even decked out in fezes and curly elf shoes. A great “last” impression of Montpellier, although there’d be one more…
Later at dinner we saw some commotion on the square and then, all of a sudden, about 100 people stopped. It was totally a “freeze” as the Europeans call it – what we’d call a flash mob. Melle and I were about the only people there who knew what they were doing, so it was quite neat to see what the reaction was from other people walking by.
Then we had our last meal, last bottle of wine, and a very nice-on-the-eyes waiter. We watched the peoples walking by and took our time with the coffee.
I set the BB for 4:50am. I wake up, look at the tv which is 15 slow, and figure out that the BB hasn’t gone off and that the taxi will be there to pick us up in 20 minutes. SHIT. Get Melle up. Get dressed. We still made it to the lobby before the taxi did (cuz we’re smart people who take a shower and pack the night before). The trip home was basically a couple of flights, hours of waiting at Paris CDG, and a lovely car trip with Andrew at the end.
Jean Luc was glad to see me, and I was glad to be home.