Tuesday, 24 December 2013

Arles, Nimes, Uzes and the Pont Du Gard

So it was time to quit the French Riviera, sadly, but in the not too far distance were the Roman Coliseums at Arles and Nimes and we could look forward to being back in our home region of Languedoc Roussillon.

Roman Coliseums & Romanesque Buildings

Hard to believe that the Romans built two such magnificent coliseums in such close proximity to one another.

Admittedly they wouldn't have had the benefit of a modern motor car, but even so there was only about a half hour drive between Arles and Nimes over a distance of about 34km.  So to find two buildings of such stature that essentially performed the same function was, to me anyway, astonishing.

I actually got a bit confused to begin with because someone had told me there was only one coliseum and it was at Arles not Nimes. Just goes to show you shouldn't believe everything you are told!

This whole area of France is full of the evidence of the amazing ability the Romans had for building spectacular structures from sandstone and it is reported that the coliseums, along with the Roman theatre and the Pont Du Gard are the best preserved evidence of the Romanesque period in France. Unesco certainly think so and have given the coliseum in Arles and the Pont Du Gard world heritage status, two of a total of thirty eight sites in France. Carcassonne and the Canal Du Midi are two more a little closer to home.

My personal opinion is that the coliseum in Nimes was probably more deserving than the coliseum in Arles, but to be honest there isn't much between them. So if you find yourself in a situation where you need to chose between the two. you really wouldn't be disappointed by either one.

We stayed the night in Nimes and visited the coliseum the following day, a missed opportunity I think because we were only 15 minutes from the centre and could have seen the coliseum lit up at night time. I am pretty sure that would have been really spectacular, so we were left kicking ourselves we didn't head in town for the evening.

Uzes and the Pont Du Gard

I can't really remember who told me or where I saw it, but I knew that Uzes was a must see place to visit if you are in this area. 

So we plumbed the town into our sat nav and set off to find it. Have to say we were not disappointed and we arrived just as the lunch period was getting going, so had the added bonus of sitting down for a lovely meal in this beautiful sandstone built town and alfresco of course. 

It felt a little like wandering around a Cotswolds town with a French twist, probably because the sun was shining and we had some lovely weather for our sightseeing. Although I think September in the UK wasn't so bad this year either. 

So yes I would add that if you are in this area, Uzes is a must see place and well worth the trip to have a look at it. virtually the whole town is built from sandstone and there are a myriad of cobbled streets and medieval arches in and leading from the centre square. Very nice. Next stop then was the Pont Du Gard, the Roman aquaduct.

Pont Du Gard

Not far from Uzes you will find the Pont Du Gard, which in Roman times was a little bit of ingenious engineering. Built around 50 AD to carry water from the Source d'Eure in Uzes towards the city of Nimes, serving this purpose until the 6th century. It was partly destroyed during the middle ages as a source of stone for other constructions..... bit like Hadrian's Wall really. Fortunately there is still an impressive structure there and a museum, open from 9.30 am until either 5.00 pm or 7.00 pm depending on the time of year, to tell you all about it.

If you roll up in your car, it is going to cost you €18, but that is for up to 5 people and includes access to the whole site.

So you could actually plan to spend the whole day there. There is plenty to do and it is lovely spot, just to sit by the river for example and admire the aquaduct. Or you can go walking and of course visit the shops and museum. So all in all €18 isn't actually so bad if you use your visit to its full potential.

So that was it, after the Pont Du Gard it was full steam ahead back to the Aude and our little place in France which, as you all know you are welcome to visit.

We did make one more stop, just past Narbonne for a quick driver change. It was as the sun was setting and I couldn't resist one more snap, this time it was a modern structure in the services area of the A61 as you turn off for Carcassonne and Toulouse. I thought it was a pretty nice photograph, so hope you do too.


Well it is different anyway, and perhaps it is just not the Romans that can knock a structure together. Does make you wonder what they would have thought of it had they stumbled across something like this back in their day.
This is where you will find a few more photographs https://plus.google.com/111129889170644567486/posts/XsYjjpun19M

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