Nîmes notes

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

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Seen from trambus: Pyramid


trambus_pyramidAfter passing under the railway you’ll be on Avenue Jean Jaurès, and this pyramid is the first statue you will see. No, the second. Before it you will see the bull statue.


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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.


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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).


Statue of Jeanne d’Arc in Nîmes

jeanne d'arcThe statue of Jeanne d’Arc (Joan of Arc) in Nîmes looks a little neglected. It’s located in Place des Carmes, between the Nîmes University’s Carmes building and the old Roman city gate known as Porte d’Auguste, and facing the Saint-Baudile church.

That may still sound nice, but in reality it’s quite a weary little square in the middle of a fairly heavy traffic. In front of the statue there’s a parking space. That all will luckily change though, as this part of town will be renewed in the future. And maybe at that time the statue of the French heroine will be cleaned, too? (I later remembered I had taken a picture of the place earlier: the Jeanne d’Arc statue is right behind the woman’s head!)

The statue is a design by Maxime Réal del Sarte (1888-1954), and dates back to 1944. But, due to fear of vandalism, it was only installed in its place in 1969! Why is that, remains a mystery to me.

rouen1431At the foot of the statue is a heart, licked by flames. The text, “Rouen 1431”, reminds of the time and place of Jeanne d’Arc’s death. The text beneath says: “Ce coeur contient de la terre prelevee au lieu sacre du bulher de Jeanne d’Arc“, which means that in the urn there’s a bit of the soil from the place where Jeanne d’Arc was burnt.

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A smiling crocodile


There’s actually one more crocodile in the Hôtel de Ville, or the town house of Nîmes. If you find the four stuffed ones hanging from the ceiling, you will definitely notice this fellow as well.

It’s a work of the ateliers of Foyer d’accueil et de promotion Hubert-Pascal, and depicts a crocodile leaning on a toril… What’s a toril, you might ask. Well, look the second picture. Nîmes is famous for bullfights, too!



Beauty of decay: Leaf statues (Les Pheuillus)

Within the past few days the Jardins de la Fontaine has been filled with statues. But what kind of statues? Made of last years dead leaves! You can find these statues (and more) lurking in the bushes, peaking from behind the trees, or climbing on the walls.  It’s a real hide and seek game, and everyone is delighted, especially of course children.

The statues are part of the garden event of Rendez-vous aux jardins of this weekend, and I hope they will stay there a little longer… The art work is of a theatre group named Le Phun, and seems to be part of the Marseille-Provence 2013 European culture capital program. Some theatre plays are also organized today.

With these pictures I participate in the City Daily Photo community’s June theme of  ‘beauty of decay’. Other participants you can find here.

*** Update on Jun 3: The statues are no longer in the garden of Nîmes… It really was only for the weekend! But perhaps they pop up somewhere else again? If you’re in France, maybe you’ll bump into them?