Continuing with my week-long trip to the south of France, my next stop was at Nîmes! Situated just four train stops away from Montpellier, the city of Nîmes is known for its famous Roman monuments, including l’Arènes (a large ampitheatre, which reminds me of that in Rome) and Maison Carrée (a rectangular temple in the city center). In any case, much of the city, like with the rest in southern France, are heavily Roman-influenced, as the region used to be part of the Roman Empire.
I arrived in Nîmes close to 16h00, and proceeded to walk over to the youth hostel, located all the way outside of the city center. Now before, I had been sending couch requests to as many Couchsurfing hosts as I could, in hopes of having one accept me to stay with them during my time in the city. I knew another English assistant based in Nîmes, but unfortunately, she was only able to host me starting Thursday, even though I was to arrive on Monday. Admittedly, it is especially difficult to get a Couchsurfer to accept you in a smaller city like Nîmes, let alone during the weekday, when I was visiting.
In the end, I was unable to get a Couchsurfer in time for my three nights in Nîmes, and so I resorted to staying in the youth hostel, a 45-minute to an hour walk from the train station. Up hills, even; it was quite painful, trudging up with my belongings and after having spent the day walking all over Montpellier.
Along the way, I passed by quite a lovely garden, le Jardin de la Fontaine, located along the quai. Unfortunately, I didn’t have much time to spend exploring the area, since I wanted to be at the youth hostel before it got dark, but managed to get a nice view near the entrance; photos really don’t do justice to how pretty it was:
Finally made it to the youth hostel around 17h00; apparently, reception was closed between 16h45 and 17h45 (seriously, though…), but fortunately, the receptionist was willing to check me in sans reservation and showed me my room, which I shared with two other *older* women. Right away, I wasn’t really feeling the hostel: not only was it far away from the city center, but it also was freezing cold in the room (from what one of my roommates said, the facility turns off the heater once March comes, even when the weather outside still feels like winter. Not cool.), as well as having no Wifi! I had even asked about the Wifi situation, and the receptionist said that it happened to be down (which frustrated me, because I really needed it to reach some people for making arrangements later during the trip. Managed to get some *albeit spotty* connection through my phone provider’s hot-spot, and so that was good enough. Any case, after cooking/eating dinner (had to descend the hill to get to the nearest supermarket for groceries) and confirming plans for the following day, I turned in for the night (although I didn’t get very good sleep, as I was freezing to death from the lack of heater. Absolutely lovely…).
I spent the following morning in Arles (more on that in another post), but later that evening, I returned to Nîmes, and immediately cancelled my stay at the youth hostel. I cancelled, because I had just received confirmation from a Couchsurfer from Nîmes, who was able to accommodate me at the last minute (bless him!). Even better, he lived in the city center, and so I wasn’t in the mood to hang out any longer in the cold, faraway hostel. Not sure if I’ll get refunded for the last night that I had booked, but really, I was just so glad to be out of there.
Headed over to the Couchsurfer’s place, where he (let’s call him “Michael”) greeted me warmly. He had plans that night to go out, and so I spent the night at his flat, chatting with his super nice girlfriend, “Mandy.” Went to sleep afterwards, and the next day hung out with Michael and Mandy as they ran errands (to the post office, pharmacy, grocery store…). Had lunch with them back at their place before deciding to head out to see Pont du Gard (a large aqueduct that is a UNESCO World Heritage site) in the afternoon. Admittedly, it was quite late when I had decided to go, as well as it was raining (in the south of France, of all places!). But still, I went ahead with the plan, as I didn’t want to miss this opportunity to see the aqueduct (and if you know me, I am pretty obsessed with nice-looking bridges and aqueducts!).
I took the bus over (it was about a 45-minute ride), and arrived around 16h20. Paid admission, and walked over to the site. It wasn’t very fun walking through the rain (even with an umbrella), but nevertheless, the Pont du Gard was definitely a site to see: with its three-tiered structure, the aqueduct was super imposing and majestic, despite the March gloom.
Didn’t spend much time there, as the place was closing up at 18h00. Walked back to the bus stop, where I caught the bus back to Nîmes. Arrived back at 19h10 or so, and went back to Michael’s place. He and Mandy were just starting dinner, and so I joined them. Took a bath afterwards, and asked if I could use their laundry machine to wash my clothes (as a traveler, it helps to pack lightly, but also find opportunities for laundry washing; in return, I had offered Michael and Mandy some food as our dinner). They said yes, and I washed my clothes, leaving them to dry overnight.
The following morning was my last with them, as the English assistant, who I was going to stay with, had said that I could come that day. Thanked Michael and Mandy for the brief, albeit pleasant stay, and left around 10h30 to catch the bus for a day trip to Avignon (again, more on that in another post). Returned that evening, where the English assistant (let’s call her “Sally”) received me from the train station and we headed over to her flat. We chilled out for a couple of hours before heading out later that night to get drinks with some of the teaching assistants based in Nîmes. Knocked back a couple of white wines (nothing too heavy) and got acquainted with the people. Sally and I left around 23h30, and returned to her flat past midnight. I showered, brushed my teeth, and slept soundly for the night (thanks to a bit of alcohol!).
Next morning was my last stay in Nîmes, as I was heading out to Aix-en-Provence. Thanked Sally for the one-night stay, and headed out at 9h00. Took a BlaBlaCar over to Aix-en-Provence, and that was about it for Nîmes.
Overall speaking, my three-night stay in Nîmes was quite…chaotic, as I was both shuffling around from lodging to lodging, as well as making day trips to nearby towns/areas (Arles, Pont du Gard, Avignon). That said, I wasn’t really in Nîmes most of the time, but I was still able to see pretty much the essentials of the city (really, there wasn’t a ton). More city than anything, just like Montpellier, but I got to meet a bunch of new and wonderful people during my time there.
Moving on to my next destination tomorrow: Arles, France! 🙂
— The Finicky Cynic
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