On the fifth day of our cruise we went to Nîmes and then saw the Pont du Gard. I loved our time in France on this trip. I hadn’t been to France in years and I was soaking up every moment. Looking back at these photos reminds me how lovely and quaint the city of Nîmes is. It was a bit more off-the-beaten-path than some of our other stops and much less touristy than Nice and Cinque Terre, and as a result it was extremely charming and peaceful.
Before the trip, the extent of my knowledge of Nîmes came from Roman history. I knew that it started as a Roman city and that it’s home to the Maison Carrée, a well-preserved Roman temple, as well as some other Roman ruins. But I didn’t expect it to be such a lovely, beautiful city. There were canals running through the town, adorable winding streets, and a gorgeous, lush park with sculptures and Roman ruins. Overall, it was just completely charming!
Walking into the beautiful city park. I can only imagine how gorgeous it must look once the leaves start changing!
These are the ruins of the Temple of Diana.
It’s incredible to think that this has been standing for around 2000 years.
Here are some pictures of the beautiful fountains and canals in the park. There were actually swans swimming around– so picturesque! We need more swans in America!
After wondering around the park, we began to walk through the city of Nîmes to walk to the Maison Carrée. It was about a ten minute walk away, and right on the way to the famous Arena of Nîmes.
Such a romantic city- it made me wish that I had more time to explore the rest of Provence.
Here is the famous Maison Carrée! It’s supposed to be one of the best preserved Roman temples.
I love the juxtaposition of the old and the new in this shot– it shows both the Maison Carrée and the Carré d’Art. The architect who designed the art museum was inspired by the Maison Carrée, and he wanted to adapt its structure to the modern age. It’s fascinating to see the way architecture has progressed over the last 2000 years, and it’s rare that you have two such extreme examples in this close proximity.
I loved the architecture of the town overall. The buildings seemed to be a mix between French Chateaus and the colorful buildings of the South of France, which is a pretty winning combination!
So many beautiful little squares and cafes! European cities just know how it’s done.
We finally made our way through the quaint streets of Nîmes to the Arena. It’s basically a mini Colosseum. Over the years it’s been used for bullfighting and music performances. Ernest Hemingway apparently used to watch bullfighting here! We stopped here and ate at one of the cafes that surround the Arena. It was such a pleasant town, and eating lunch overlooking these gorgeous ruins was the cherry on top.
After lunch, we drove to the Pont du Gard, which was about 30 minutes away. The Pont du Gard is a beautifully preserved Roman aqueduct. I was so excited to see it in person. It always seemed to me like the most spectacular, impressive feat of architecture rising out of the wilderness, so it was a dream to get to see it in person.
One of the things I didn’t know was that this spot is a popular swimming area! Families were out with their dogs, canoes were out on the water, and I was sad that I didn’t bring my swimsuit!
You’re able to walk across the Pont du Gard so you can take it in from multiple angles. One of the things I loved/ found funny was that there were a lot of graffiti carvings on the Pont du Gard, and so many of them were from the late 1800s/ early 1900s. It’s funny to think that people in the past still had the weird instinct people today have, which is to write their name on anything they see, ha!
I’m wearing one of my favorite dresses from Madewell (it’s on sale for $39.99 right now!) and my favorite Madewell sandals (similar from Madewell). (Side note: I’ve been so obsessed with everything they’ve done recently. Seriously, I walk into the store and want ALL THE THINGS.)
It was such a stunning piece of engineering and architecture. I have to include this quote by Henry James, describing the Pont du Gard after he visited it in the late 1800s:
The hugeness, the solidity, the unexpectedness, the monumental rectitude of the whole thing leave you nothing to say – at the time – and make you stand gazing. You simply feel that it is noble and perfect, that it has the quality of greatness … When the vague twilight began to gather, the lonely valley seemed to fill itself with the shadow of the Roman name, as if the mighty empire were still as erect as the supports of the aqueduct; and it was open to a solitary tourist, sitting there sentimental, to believe that no people has ever been, or will ever be, as great as that, measured, as we measure the greatness of an individual, by the push they gave to what they undertook. The Pont du Gard is one of the three or four deepest impressions they have left; it speaks of them in a manner with which they might have been satisfied.
I don’t think that I could say it any better than Mr. James.
We stopped and asked someone to take out picture, and we were lucky that he decided to do a panorama shot to capture the scene so perfectly!
We had such a wonderful day in Nîmes. As I mentioned before, I expected beautiful Roman ruins, but I didn’t expect to find the most charming, pretty French city surrounding those ruins. I would absolutely recommend a day trip to area if you find yourself in Provence. This was our last day in France, and after a much needed day at sea, we landed in Spain! Spoiler alert, sangria was consumed at maybe every meal 😉
To see my posts from the first few days of the cruise, check out: