Sunday, May 06, 2018

Roman Festival in Nimes

Our original plan was to visit Nimes and its 1st century AD Roman Amphitheater (Arena) from Arles. Yet on our first full day in Avignon, we found ourselves on the first bus to Nimes -- our object was the Roman Festival. For three consecutive days, there would be an afternoon show for 20,000 paying spectators in the Nimes Arena with 500 participants/actors in the style of Spartacus. While we would like to think we are way above actually paying for such spectacles, we could not resist the opportunity to gawk at all the goings-on.

As soon as we stepped off the bus, we started to spot people in Roman regalia.  We found out that there would be no "site visit" for the Arena for three whole days as we had suspected; Roman Festival entry only. The participants came from UK, Italy, Spain, Germany, in addition to France. I had assumed such festivals happened all the time in the summer. We never expected to run into one since we only travel in the spring. Here was our opportunity!

While waiting for things to gear up, we poked around town.  Even more impressive than the Arena, Nimes has the incomparable Maison Carree, a Roman temple. There is another very impressive so-called Temple of Diana which still has parts of the roof and is just left to be clambered about. The nearby palatial Jardin de la Fontaine is one of the oldest public gardens in Europe. We also learned that "denim" came from "de Nimes" and jeans is derived from "Genoa". Even today, Nimes still has a prosperous air, though I could not figure out what drives their economy....

In the end we enjoyed plenty of the Roman festivities in the streets and backstage outside the arena, marveled at the participants dedication, and headed for the bus as the last actors entered the Arena.

We walk towards the ancient Arena, just before 9AM, and spot a toga.
Nîmes, France

After consulting with the TI and arena box office, we head towards the Jardin de la Fontaine and the Temple of Diana.
Nîmes, France

Nîmes, France

Nîmes, France

Nîmes, France

The Le Castellum Aquae is the terminus of the Pont du Gard Aqueduct.
Nîmes, France

The Maison Carree is one of the best preserved Roman Temples and is certainly an eye-catcher. We sat and admired it from several spots. It's now a theater.
Nîmes, France

Nîmes, France

Nîmes, France

Nîmes, France

Nîmes, France

Before the noon hour, the participants in the festival paraded around town and showed their stuff. Here's the 8th Roman Legion.
Nîmes, France

Legion X was the coolest. They had horns and badass legionnaires.
Roman Games - Nîmes, France

Roman Games - Nîmes, France

And Legion VI was pretty cool as well.
Nîmes, France

And there were shows of battle maneuvers.
Nîmes, France

Nîmes, France

Nîmes, France

Here's some video.


And the link is here if the above video does not play for you.

Wait!
Nîmes, France

Marching back to the arena.
Nîmes, France

Nîmes, France

There were also some non-legionnaires in the festival. Roman senators?
Nîmes, France

Nîmes, France

The Nimes market hall.
Nîmes, France

Town Square.
Nîmes, France

And a denim jacket in the City Museum.
Nîmes, France

Nimes Cathedral.
Nîmes, France

The sold out festival is about to begin. We don't have tickets so we hang out backstage.
Nîmes, France

Nîmes, France

Nîmes, France

The chariots roll into the Arena.
Nîmes, France

Legion I is ready.
Nîmes, France

Spartacus and follers are ready.
Nîmes, France

Nîmes, France

And we head for the bus station....

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