|We were very pleased with our visit to Nimes, France. We bought a combination ticket to see three sights - the Arenes de Nimes, the Maison Carree, and the Tour Magne.
The Arenes, or amphitheater, is regarded as the best preserved Roman arena. The included audio guide was very informative and interesting with commentary covering the history of the arena and of Nimes. From the second century AD to the 17th century, the arena has played a pivotal role in Nimes and the surrounding region. We heard about the life and times of the Roman community, the combination of Galic and Roman influences, the public executions of prisoners by means of wild beasts such as lions and bears, the types and training of gladiators, the bullfighting traditions and more. It was overall a great audioguide tour that brought the historic ruins to life.
One of the reasons the arena is well preserved is because it has seen continual use. It obviously was a key entertainment venue in Roman times. But it has also served as a fortress for the Visigoths, a residence for nobles, and housed a village within its walls at one time. To this day, it is used for concerts and bullfights as well as being the major tourist attraction in Nimes.
After visiting the amphitheater, we had a great lunch. Moules et Frites for Jose; a salad with mussels, shrimp and calimari for Jill. Apple pie (as only the French can do it) for dessert. At lunch we enjoyed talking with two school teachers from California who were in France with their high school class, and some travelers from England.
Then we walked over to the Maison Carree, the Square House, is a Roman temple which was part of the original forum. Thomas Jefferson copied its design for the Virgina capital. Nowadays it offers a 22 minute 3-D film called the "Heroes of Nimes", which was an interesting and entertaining look at some of the historic figures of Nimes. Then we walked through the Jardin de la Fontaine to the Tour Magne to climb to the top for a view of the city.
All in all, a great overview of Roman times and a reminder of the magnitude of the far-reaching Roman Empire.