Thursday, February 9, 2017

Romans in France

Our living situation is a bit unique right now! We aren't paying rent (yay), but since December we haven't had the place to ourselves on weekends. It hasn't been an issue at all so far; since while I was gone David went home every weekend. But now that I'm back, we have to think of creative solutions until we move.

The solution for my first weekend back in France was to do a little sightseeing. I chose a few places that weren't too far away that have been on my bucket list.

We first drove 2.5 hours to get to the Pont du Gard, which is the tallest Roman aqueduct in the world. It was built in the 1st century A.D.

A nice surprise was that the bridge is surrounded by a big park filled with hills and trees. We ended up staying longer than planned because it was fun to walk around and it was a beautiful sunny day. Yep, 60s in February. That's the South of France ;)

Just about 15 minutes down the road was our hotel in the village of Uzès. We were originally planning on staying in a bigger city, but when I found a nice hotel in Uzès it seemed like a good opportunity to explore a small medieval town.

The building of the hotel itself was built in the 1400s!!

Here are the views from the hotel's rooftop terrace. I am easily won over by cathedrals. I love this one's tower- reminds me of the Tower of Pisa!

After dropping off our luggage we set out to walk around the town before it got dark. It's always nice to just wander around with no plan. The most exciting moment was finding a castle without trying to. Apparently there is still a Duke of Uzès who continues to live here.

View from the edge of town:

In town:

After dinner we happened to come across a French travel TV show where they were visiting... wait for it... Wisconsin! They went to Milwaukee, Madison, Door County, and Chicago. It was very entertaining to hear a French perspective of my state. I'm a little ashamed that even I learned some things haha

We drove to Nîmes (30 minutes away) the next morning for church. Afterwards it was time to see the Roman sites downtown. 

The Nîmes Arena is the main thing to see. It's basically a mini-Colosseum, and used to host gladiator fights. 

The major difference between this place and the Colosseum is that it's still used for events- bull fights and concerts. All of the stone benches are covered up with wooden seats, and there are 21st century safety-approved railings everywhere. I thought that was too bad because it didn't look as ancient on the inside.

I liked getting to see some views of Nîmes from the top of the arena.

I learned on this tour that David is a very faithful audioguide-er. I usually get bored and eventually give up, but he made it through every one of the commentaries. Good job David. But I got a little bored waiting for you. One interesting thing I did learn before I gave up was that during the Middle Ages a few hundred people lived in houses inside the arena. The arena walls protected them from being invaded.

I even took a cute picture of David really concentrating on the audioguide, but I will be a good wife and not post it. I'll post these instead because they won't get me in trouble.

Unfortunately we didn't have the same lovely weather the day before. Winter came back (and by winter I mean 50 degrees and rainy). So it wasn't ideal to walk around the city. 

We did stop at one more place- the Maison Carrée, which was a Roman temple.

Like everything else we saw on this little trip, it was so well preserved for being built in the first century. I thought it was pretty!

And that was that. Just 2 hours later we were back home in Mandelieu. One of the things I've always loved about Europe is how much there is to see without traveling very far. And as this weekend proves, there's not just French history to see! There's a lot of Roman history all over France, but especially in the south.

If you're interested, I also wrote about what I've been up to and the exciting things to come, and a funny story illustrating one reason why we won't be staying in France.

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