Next to the smiling crocodile, you will find the city map of the medieval Nîmes, or Nismes as it was called at the time. The city was encirled by a city wall, with a moat in the front. The larger walls are the city walls of the Roman Nîmes, or Nemausus. It was that much bigger in the Roman times!
Do notice also the Pont du Gard (in the map it says “Le Pont du gar, ou gardon”) on the right upper corner. It was built to bring water to Nemausus’ baths and fountains.
The map was drawn in the 16th century by Georg Braun and Frans Hogenberg. To see it more in detail, click here.
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!
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.
They were purchased or received as gifts between 1597 and 1703. The emblem of Nîmes, a crocodile chained in a palm tree, comes from a Roman coin minted to commemorate Augustus’ victory at the battle in Actium in Egypt in 31 BC. And the veterans of the battle were given a piece of land in Nîmes, or Nemausus, as it was called at the time.
The stuffed crocodiles are visible to anyone: when you go to the inner yard of the town hall, go to left, and look up…
The CDP September theme is pink, and here’s what’s (salmon) pink in Nîmes: the stairway at the Hôtel de Ville, or the Town Hall! And can you guess what is hanging from the ceiling? I give you a hint… it has to do with the emblem of Nîmes…
I will show you later the whole picture, but if you’re in Nîmes, do stop by the Town Hall, it has a small little garden inside, and the… well, ’till later 😉
To see what’s pink around the world, click here.
Edited the next day: see the whole picture here.