Nîmes notes

a picture diary from a Roman town in the south of France

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Armistice day

armistice001November 11th is a national holiday in France, marking the end of the first World War. Nowadays the armistice day is also known as the remembrance day, to commemorate all those who lost their lives in the country’s wars. Or, as it’s usually said, who sacrified their lives for the country.

After the horrors of the first world war people vowed that nothing like that would ever again happen. But then came the second world war. And after that dozens and dozens other wars around the world. Now we are only hoping that a third world war would not break…

The war memorial of Nîmes is located very near the arenes and the palais de justice, on a square named 11-Novembre-1918. It’s an open air crypt, and on the walls there are engraved the names of the 12 866 soldiers from Nîmes and the Gard, who were killed in the first world war. In 1950 were added the names of the soldiers killed in the second world war, and in 1999 the names of the 54 Nîmes’ soldiers killed in the North African war.

There will a ceremony held today, and flowers will be places on the middle of the mosaic floor, which itself is very beautiful. The memorial, known in French as Monument aux morts, is a design by Henri Castan, and was inagurated in 1923.




Pure blood Arabian horses in Nîmes

arabianhorses001Previous weekend it was the feria, and now a national competition of pure blood Arabian horses

I almost missed it, but luckily checked the local paper’s internet pages on Sunday morning. The two day event would be at Esplanade Charles-de-Gaulle in the city center, and it would be free of charge. Late afternoon I then went to see the horses. The whole thing was already ending, but a glimpse of these beautiful animals I could get. Here are some photos from yesterday:


Marie Sara, boutique and rejoneadora

mariesaraFor me, Marie Sara had so far been a name of a clothes shop in Nîmes (40 rue Madeleine). But a couple of days ago I learned who is the person Marie Sara, when she entered on the Arenes of Nîmes riding her horse alongside with Paco Ojeda. As Marie Sara is a famous French rejoneadora, one of the few female horseback bullfighter. She had received her alternative in Nîmes in 1991, and now she was there for the ceremony of the young rejoneadora, Léa Vicens.

I’m not sure if the clothing shop is Marie Sara’s (real name Marie Bourseiller) own business or not, but at least now I became curious. The clothes sold are quite elegant, the little that I’ve checked. Here is a picture of Marie Sara the rejoneadora in Nîmes this feria:


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farandoleToday was the last day of Feria des Vendanges, or the harvest festival. After seeing two corridas yesterday (Léa Vicens, Paco Ojeda and the magnificent Diego Ventura  in the morning and a “mano à mano” by El Juli and the triumphant José Mari Manzanares in the evening), today I just strolled around the town.

First I went to see another abrivado, but as I’ve posted pictures of it twice, I’ll pass it this time. After that there was a folklore parade. The local dance and music is called farandole, and I think it’s really beautiful and often also very humoristic! If you have a chance, do go and see it. The music, the wear… everything is so pretty.



Léa Vicens at the amphitheatre of Nîmes

lea vicensToday was a special day for Nîmes: The nîmoise Léa Vicens received her alternative and became a legitimate rejoneadora (horseback bullfighter). She was superb: brave, courageous, elegant, beautiful, skillful, humorous and always smiling. Her parrain was Paco Ojeda, a legend, and the star of corrida de réjon (horseback bullfight), Diego Ventura  appeared on the arena with her. Léa Vicens got one ear, while Ventura a total of three ears and one tail (which are the trophees in the corrida).



abrivadoThe Feria des Vendanges (harvest festival) started today, and in the evening I went to see the abrivado. I didn’t bring my camera though; it was getting dark, and sometimes it’s nice just to observe. The picture is of last year.

The abrivado of today took place at the Boulevard Amiral Courbet – it’s a long avenue, where once stood the Medieval city wall. Now it was lined by metal fences, behind which the audience is supposed to stay… but actually the fun is to get in, on the street, to see better, and to test your guts… And when the gardians (Camargue cowboys) gallop with their beautiful, white horses leading the young bulls that the young kids try to stop, you will have to give way…

I love the atmosphere of the abrivado. Children are so excited, scared and fascinated at the same time, by the animals and the handsome gardians. Adults, too. People here have grown up with all this. To me, a foreigner and an observer, it is so amazing. There’s magic in the air, that’s for sure.

(When I chose this picture [yes, it happens all so fast that it’s difficult to focus], I noticed that there’s someone lying down on the street. I never noticed that before. What had happened? Just opposite the street? Nothing serious, I think, as I don’t remember the whole thing…)

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Film screen in Jardins de la Fontaine

realisateurdanslavilleOne of the nicest summer events in Nîmes is the film screenings in Jardins de la Fontaine. The week-long festival is called Un réalisateur dans la ville, and every year a different (French) film maker is invited as a guest, with his/her films. This year it was Jean-Pierre Mocky, in France a well-known actor, screenwriter, producer and director, but a little less well-known elsewhere. At least I had never heard of him.

So, perhaps due to that, I (almost) missed the screenings. Today is the last one: L’ibis rouge starts when the sun goes down. Should I go or should I stay? Anyway, the screenings are free of charge, and the atmosphere is great, with twinkling stars and singing of the cicadas…