Nîmes notes

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

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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!




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.