Roman Holiday: Pont du Gard and the Nimes Arena

The French know how to enjoy life – mid-morning cafe at the cafe, a pichet of wine at lunch, and long lazy afternoons baking in the Mediterranean sun. The Romans, however, were all about veni, vidi, vici, especially the vici part. They conquered all over the place, not the least of which was in Provence.

Compared to those johnny-come-lately Popes in the 14th century, the Romans were snapping up their share of Provence as early as 125 B.C. and came conquering in earnest in 8 B.C. when Emperor Augustus built a monument in the mountain village of La Turbie to commemorate his victory over some troublesome tribes in the Alps.

In the background is the Trophee d'Auguste a La Turbie (image from en.infotourisme.net)

Just to let you know, we did drive the winding and mostly vertical path to La Turbie, but it was to visit a restaurant rather than a monument. Typical tourists, that’s us!

But our visit to Avignon was predicated upon an expedition to the breathtaking Pont du Gard, a Roman aqueduct bridge dating back to the first century A.D.

We visited early-ish in the morning, when the sunlight shines golden upon the bridge.

The Pont du Gard is the highest of all Roman aqueduct bridges and one of the best preserved. It is 899 feet long and is considered to be a masterpiece of engineering.

The Gard river, as seen from the Pont du Gard

Next stop was the Arena at the nearby town of Nimes, considered to be the best-preserved amphitheatre from the Roman Empire.

Me and our guide, Emily, in front of the Arena at Nimes.

Detail of the Arena facade: it was built in 70 AD

The Romans used sand to absorb all the human and animal blood that was spilled in the arena; today bullfights are held here twice a year.

All that history makes one hungry, of course, so we took a lunch break:

We're having such a good time!

Our next stop was the town of Arles…more on that later.

The Romans left their mark in Arles, too: this obelisk was erected in the 4th century and stands in the Arles town square

About polloplayer

Empty nester searching for meaning of life through the occasional chicken epiphany.
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3 Responses to Roman Holiday: Pont du Gard and the Nimes Arena

  1. Katherine says:

    Those Romans carpe-ed more than diem. Although I suppose the French had the last laugh as they sang “thanks for the moments” and “Arena-merci, Roma”

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