In my earlier posts, I mentioned that when in Europe, most of my travels were to visit friends. Now that I’m here in France, this was no different, in fact, this one was about to take the cake for it all. Back when I was working in Napa Valley for wine harvest, I met an intern from Montpellier/Nimes. 2 years later, here IÂ am visiting him.
Arriving here in Nimes, it was nothing that I ever imagined. The City of Nimes itself made me feel like i was in ancient Rome. except people having cell phones. The buildings are still in its beige limestone like looks with ancient monuments dotted around the city. Â I was standing in front of one of the most well-preserved Roman Coliseum in the world, in pictures it looks like it’s in a better condition than the one in Rome. In the front of it all it has a metal statue of a matador showing off its flair. Nearby, there is an equally old square temple, Maison Carree, built-inÂ 20 BCÂ for the two grandsons of Caesar Augustus, Lucius and Gaius. Along with La Tour Magne, a tallÂ tower on the tallest point in NimesÂ overlookingÂ the city. This place of ancient Rome managed to remain untouched throughout time and through all the wars involving Europe.
A Day in the Winery
My friend took me to his winery to spend a day there shadowing him. There I watched him do what he did best. The last time i saw him he was just an intern in Napa, now he is a winemaker in charge of running one of the best wineries in the region of Costieres de Nimes. It was incredible to see the difference between the win operations in France and in the US. For instance, almost all wineries in the US use stainless steel and much more chemicals to ensure the cleanliness of everything, unlike in France.
My friends (new and old) took me to a couple of festivals aroundÂ Nimes. The first one was Festival Live au Pont at Pont du Gard, another ancient Rome Aqueduct. Here I got to see some of my favourite artists, namely Gramatik and Odesza. The entire vibe was fantastic, all of us got nice and drunk and just had a ball of a time. The second one was Festival de Nimes, held in the Arena itself. This 2 week-long festival featured many famous artists such as Muse, Johnny Hallyday, Mika, Jean Michel Jarre and David Gilmour. From where my friend lived, we could hear all the music and commotion.
Jardin des Fontaines
One of the more beautiful places in Nimes is Jardin de Fontaines. Here you will find a huge Roman pond with many statues all over, just like you would see in the movies. In this park lies the temple of Diana,Â whom archaeologists still don’t know what its original purpose was. However, it was used as a church in the Middle Ages. The entire garden is definitely worth walking around enjoying the sounds and sights of Roman sculptures and gardens.Â
The Local Treatment, City Vibes
The friends that I made here wanted me to feel at home and have fun as well. They invited me to barbecues, nights out for drinks, dinner parties, river runs, etc. There was one day where there was a local weekly wine festival in town and my friend asked me to help him pour wine in the name of his winery. So for 4 hours, I pretended to speak French pour wine and collecting tickets. They also took me to a local football match that had two rivals Nimes and Marseilles playing against each other in a friendly. Turns out I was there when Euro Cup was happening and it was the finals between France and Portugal. Naturally the entire city was out watching the game, but unfortunately the home team lost. The whole vibe in the city throughout my entire time here was relax and calm in the day, vibrant and exciting in the night.Â
Nimes marks the longest time I spent in a single city. It was hard to leave the place thanks to all the new friends I made and the experiences that I’ve had. I not only had an incredible time here but also rejuvenated my traveling energy. It was nice not moving around so much for once. Now I’m ready to take on more experiences and adventures!