Nîmes notes

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

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The trambus of Nîmes

trambusThe ending station of the Nîmes trambus is in front of the Arènes.

The trambus is a combination of – as you can guess from the name – a tram and a bus. No rails needed, looks like a long bus, but otherwise the concept comes from a tram. And having now tested it once (no, twice, I went back and forth), it works!

In my humble opinion, the route is much more clear than those of the busses. It’s also fairly fast, and also frequent (at least during the day). It’s not as silent as the modern trams, but it’s supposed to be more environment friendly – the tram bus doesn’t use gasoline or diesel, but electricity. The ride cost one euro, and you can purchase the ticket when entering. Just don’t forget to stamp it!

Some people of course criticize the meaning and the cost (79 million euros) of a new type of bus which has (so far) just one line. It circulates between the Arènes and the commercial centre near the highway entrance. New lines are planned, of course.

Well, I don’t say anything to that. Just that I liked my ride. I will post during the next few days a few pictures taken in and from the bus.


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Where the Roman watch towers stood

arenes_ringAnd here we are on the ground (compare with the previous photo). The large circle marks the place where a Roman watch tower used to be. Same way are the old city walls marked. And in the evening they glow…

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Statue of Emperor Augustus

statue_augusteThe bronze statue of Emperor Augustus, or Caius Julius Caesar Octavianus Augustus (27 BC – 14 AD), is located in the premises of the Porte d’Auguste (hence the naming of the gate).

The statue is a copy of a statue in Vatican, and it was bought by the city in 1934. Rumours, that it was a gift by Mussolini and that the Germans had melted it, are false (so it says here).


Porte d’Auguste, seen from inside

portedaugusteThe European Heritage Day’s are unfortunately always  at the same time as the autumn feria of Nîmes. So, I never remember it, or, have no time to go to see any of the places usually closed to public. This time I did see one, though.

While I was waiting for the folklore parade to start, I went to see the Roman city gate of Porte d’Auguste from inside. Normally you can’t get in (it’s surrounded by fences), but now the small gate was open, and you could stroll around in your own pace. A few people in additition to myself had noticed it.

The lens I had in my camera gave no choice of a wider view, so this time the picture is just of one of the main gateways. In total there are four: two main gates in the middle and two side gates. And what is interesting, is to see how much lower the original city used to be!


Emblem of Nîmes


Here is the emblem of Nîmes, pictured on the front door of the Hôtel de Ville. The palm tree is an old Roman symbol for victory, while the crocodile represents Egypt. The text, “Col Nem”, means Colonia Nemausus, or settlement of Nîmes.

The emblem dates back to 1535, when François I, an antiquity buff, awarded Nîmes a new coat of arms to replace an old one with a bull on a red surface. The design comes from an old Roman coin, l’as de Nîmes, which was minted in Nîmes between 28 BC and 15 AD to commemorate Augustus’ victory in the battle of Actium in Egypt in 31 BC. To see the coin, click here.

The same design can be see here and there in Nîmes: on street poles, on the gate of Jardins de la Fontaine… I’ll get back to those later…

A new version of it was made by a famous French designer, Philippe Starck, in 1985, which is nowadays the logo of the city.