The closest and prettiest city near us, Nîmes has been a little beacon of hope to us Alesians. You have to pass through to travel anywhere larger, so we’ve got to know it (via getting stuck there) rather well. It also happens to be the birthplace of the word ‘denim’ (literally ‘de-Nîmes’), a former Roman colony with two of the best-preserved Roman structures in France (thanks Wiki) and their emblem is a crocodile chained to a palm tree. Which I love.
A 30-40minute train ride away, the city is a delightful mishmash of old and new. It has thin, vortexy streets with duck-your-head wine bars and treasure trove boutiques; all trickling towards la Maison Carré (unexpected Classics porn), a temple situated in a open square, flanked by coffee tables full of Nîmians seeking sundrops.
Walking away from the square, towards les Jardins de la Fontaine, the pace slows.
Old town houses with hydrangea-blue balconies line the jade river that runs through the centre of the town.
In spite of the grand fountains and imposing space the gardens have an embracing stillness, that even when people around, you can just ‘be’. Maze-like and ethereal, give me but an hour in those gardens, and I’ll happily get lost in one of it’s little windings and flowery nooks.