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  • Writer's pictureTerri Tomoff

Arenas de Nîmes

The little town of Nîmes (pronounced Neem) is really not so little. It spreads beyond the bustling city center and the thin, narrow cobblestone streets lined with shops, pâtisseries, brassieres (French restaurants with a relaxed setting), and many outdoor cafés.

We even saw a sewing machine repair shop (closed), but I did recognize the sewing machine brands that lined up on the floor needing attention! Once passed the sewing machine shop, our first sightseeing tour (which ended up being the only one) was to check out the Arenas de Nîmes.

Yesterday was a walk-by; today was a looksie inside this fortress of long-ago gladiators and a slew of animals competing for their lives!

The Arena of Nîmes was a Roman amphitheater built around 70 CE, shortly after the Colosseum of Rome, and it is one of the best-preserved Roman amphitheaters in the world. I’ve been lucky to see Rome’s “crumbling” Coliseum, but the Nîmes Arena is the best and most well-preserved. While we listened to the audio history that was part of the entrance fee ticket at 10 Euro, all on our smartphones by the way, we tried to transport ourselves back 2000 years with the sight and sounds of the day - especially down on the Arena (means sand in Latin) floor.

In Roman times it could hold 24,000 spectators. They used the venue for all sorts of entertainment; plays, sporting events, bullfighting, and gladiator fighting. The sand at the bottom of the Arena was used to help clot and sweep up the blood from the dead animals and the losing gladiator.

One fact I found most interesting is that gladiator schools were all over Europe and as far South as North Africa. Coaches of young men worked them hard because once they entered a fighting ring, they had better win. The reputations of the schools, coaches, and gladiators were always on the line. We think we have pressure, or kids today have pressure. Sure, they do, but kids very similarly over 2000 years ago were getting the same type of pressure.

Some things never change.

Sunny most of the day lent itself for a small lunch at a sidewalk café outside of the Arena and in front of the Musée Romanité. Initially, we had designs to see the museum, but we thought lunch on a spring day in April in France would be the better choice than looking at old Roman ruins. I’m happy we did the outdoor café. Plus, we were able to catch up with our writing friend, who was arriving for the Writer’s Retreat, and met us there before we helped her with her luggage to her rental apartment.

Then the weather changed from warm and sunny to cool and rainy by dinnertime. We had to run back to our apartment to change out of wet clothes and meet up with another writing friend, Wendy, and her husband, Steve, plus Katy. Thank goodness that our small studio apartment was .2 miles from the place we had dinner.

I’m glad hubby Bill and I got to sleep in this morning - a first since we left home. We needed the extra rest; our tanks were running low.

Bonne Nuit!



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