We were up for an exciting night out in Nîmes. Another special treat for us. Rob had booked tickets in February to see the Sting and Shaggy world tour concert in such an unbelievable venue. A 2000 year old Roman Arena in Nîmes. We had an hour drive from our Airbnb in L’lsle-sur-la-Sorgue. We left at 2pm but didn’t arrive in Nîmes until around 4pm as the traffic congestion in Avignon was at a stand still due to bad road works (why in peak summer would you undertake major road works?) and there was also a music-poet festival also in town. The only way to Nîmes was to go through Avignon which is a big tourist destination. Not really sure why yet, as we are yet to explore Avignon but we are a little turned off by the huge stand still traffic jam. I took some photos of Avignon’s ancient walled city whilst stuck in bumper to bumper traffic.
A guy on stilts was being harassed by a women who wanted to pull at his long flowing cape. Not as if he could run away!!
Finally we made it to Nîmes and got a great park in the Arena carpark then we headed out to explore Nîmes. We found the city streets pretty empty due to the high afternoon temperatures of 38 degrees. We had our frozen water bottles to keep us hydrated. Due to the heat wave walking was reduced to sloth pace and we weaved our way along any shady path to hide from the hot afternoon sun’s rays. Still no one chooses to wear hats!!!! We found Nîmes to be a very clean and pretty city with quite a lot of historical things to see which made us feel as if we had been transported back into Roman times. Straight out of the car park we hit a beautiful big fountain called Fontaine Pradier. Built in 1851 it is a key symbol of Nîmes.
We followed along some shady streets to La Porte Auguste which are the main old gates to the city. These gates are 2030 years old. An impressive Roman four arch gateway that has two large centre archways for vehicle and two smaller ones for pedestrians.
We stood on the steps of the well preserved ancient temple, La Maison Carree. Astonishing for us to be standing in a 2000 year old temple – it is mind blowing. It is said to be one of the best preserved temples in the world. After scaling the mighty steep steps, definitely not built for mere mortal legs, we enjoyed looking at the huge column facade and rich carved decorative ceiling features.
We wandered along the welcoming shady canal street which was a nice escape from the heat. Goldfish swam about in the canal. This shady canal street lead us to a very impressive park called, Parc De La Fontaine. This means park of the fountain. It was an extremely elegant park even in the heat. Enclosed in a beautiful lavish iron gate entrance and filled with waterways and beautiful extravagant statues.
If you follow the stair up the hill you will come to the most beautiful scenic view point of Nîmes at the fortress. We didn’t attempt the walk upwards in the afternoon heat as it seemed far too much of an effort.
Massive orange and black fish big as a dinner plate floated aimlessly in the waters, fanning their long fins. In another park lagoon large plump swans glided gracefully along. They submerged their heads into the murky depths and retrieved long green strings of weed grasses that tangled around them as they tried to eat it.
We wandered through the cool stone Temple of Diana which sits on the edge of the park. It is believed to have once been a library.
Then we wandered back into the main area and had dinner at a burger place called, Big Fernand. You could make up your own burger and all sauces and chips were house made. We had a chicken burger with mushroom with blue vein cheese and chives with paprika and herb house fries with homemade herb mayo. The burgers and chips were great but lots of throw away packaging. The wine, beer, coffee and hazelnut ice cream went down well too!
We were all set for a night for music with Sting and Shaggy. We headed to the iconic Roman Nîmes Arena which was constructed around 70 AD. It was used for gladiator fights. It is the best preserved amphitheater in Europe. High security surrounded the historical momentum. Young, and I mean extremely young, soldiers patrolled around the crowds with their machine guns in hand. I don’t blame the French for their high security. No water or liquids were allowed into the arena. To enter you first under went a pat down security check.
Once inside climbing the huge stone steps to the top level of the arena was a real challenge for me. I really don’t think over 2000 years ago women went to see gladiators fight. Rob had to drag me up the large Roman steps. We sat on the top tier of the Roman Arena with great views all around as the sun started to settle low in the sky.
We made friends with a French couple next to us. The French crowd was quiet lively and fun. They entertained themselves by getting a continuous Mexican wave happen around the arena and they sung songs related to their recent win in the World Cup.
The security team stood on top of the wall above us looking down at the crowd. They definitely had no fear of heights.
Around 9-30 Sting and Shaggy hit the stage for a 2 hour non stop back to back singing. Sting as always, we have seen him three times, was dressed in his black t-shirt and black jeans. Shaggy looked like something from toy story dressed in a western shirt and cow boy hat. Shaggy entertainment us with his non stop reggae and his thrusting hip movement. Sting didn’t really talk to the crowd but got everyone dancing to old Police songs. I had to fight back my fear of vertigo to stand and boogie with the French. Sting sung both my favourite songs, Fields of Dreams and Desert Rose. The backing singer were phenomenal. Sting and Shaggy made for a remarkable night under the stars, amongst a fun relaxed French crowd in the ambiance of a 2000 year old amphitheater, where gladiators once battled. I don’t think we will ever attend a concert so unique again. We got home around 1-30am in the morning!!!! Feeling young again, ah, ah !!!