No, we are not in Rome. We are in the region of Provence, France with its impressive Roman monuments and ancient ruins (“Provence” was the first province of Rome and the name stuck).This was our first taste of the region as we explored Nîmes and the Pont du Gard. We even had a moment where we thought that Nîmes would have been better than Montpellier for our time in France. However, we still love Montpellier and thankful to have it as our first temporary home.
Nîmes was a wonderful day trip and we wished we could have had more time there. We visited the Arenes Nîmes which is one the best-preserved Roman amphitheaters and then on to the ancient temple Maison Carree. Both built in the 1st century and hidden gems of southern France. The amphitheater is still used today for entertaining and events. We had lunch at Chez Hubert. The food was good, but the view we had of the amphitheater was even better.
We walked over 13,000 steps and loved all the little parks and shops along the way. We ended our tour of Nîmes at the Jardin de la Fontaine. The Temple Diana was also in the park and built in the 1st century. It was not as well preserved, but still interesting to see. The park was a peaceful place. We also saw a few men playing boules and watched them for a while. Interesting game and one we would love to play some day.
Off to the Pont du Gard just a short drive from Nîmes.
The Pont du Gard was part of an aqueduct to supply the city of Nîmes with 9 million gallons of water a day from the mountains. Built in about 19 B.C., it’s actually older than me. We were amazed that it was constructed without mortar and at the precision of the slope to keep the water moving. One of the best surviving examples of Roman engineering, it has been a UNESCO World Heritage site since 1985.
Traveling in the off season has it good points and frustrating points. The museum for the Pont du Gard was closed for their annual renovation which was frustrating, but it felt like we had the area to ourselves. I have seen photos of hundreds of people on top of the bridge, but I only saw a few people as we walked around. A huge plus for us and made for some great photos.
We headed back to our little apartment in Montpellier and had our $1.50 bottle of wine and talked about all the joys of the day. We can’t wait to explore the rest of Provence.