Posted: 9/27/2008


        Egypt, 31BC. Octavius defeats Anthony and Cleopatra at the Battle of Actiom, ensuring Roman control over the Empire.

        Caesar Augustus is born and a coin is struck in Roman Nimes to celebrate the event.  On the reverse was a crocodile chained to a palm tree surrounded by a laurel wreath-the conquest of Egypt. 'COL NIM' Colony of Nimes is on the coin.  In 1535 King Francois I authorized the city to adopt the palm tree and crocodile as the town's coat of arms.  All over this pleasant Mediterranean town are images of this coat of arms, in the walls, on bollards and in a multitude of small, round metal studs in the roads and narrow streets.

    In the first Century AD a Roman Arena was built to entertain the local population, with 20,000 places for rich and poor to watch legionnaires and animals do battle. It is THE best preserved such arena in the world in the old town and now presents bull fights and concerts. It has two tiers and 60 arcades. Nearby is MAISON CARREE the finest temple of the ancient world and also well preserved,and was the forum and centre of public life dedicated to Caius and Lucius Cesar, the adopted grand sons of Emperor Augustus. It's the only fully preserved temple in the world, far superior to anything in Rome, with very pleasing and harmonius proportions, elegant columns with Corinthian capitales. In 1992 it was given a new roof-a faithful reproduction of the original with 'legulae' large flat tiles, and 'imbrex', hand moulded curved tiles.

   After landing at Nimes Aeroport on a very cheap Ryan Air flight and a taxi to Gare de NImes, I walked down the pleasant rubber tree lined main street, Boulevard Victor Hugo, to my hotel in the old town, run by a Bavarian, Ralf Bien who married a local girl and opened a charming hotel, Hotel Concorde. At dusk I walked a few metres to the Place de Marche where there were a number of indoor/outdoor restaurants and picked Le Petit Nimois, and enjoyed a Salade Norvegienne with salmon, tomatoes, lettuce, carrots, cheese and a mild mustard vinegraitte, followed by Cassoulet de la Mer, which was a great tasting mixture of various fish and crustacians with white beans in a sort of stew, not unlike the more famous Boulabaisse, with a dessert of various ice creams.  I passed on the Filet de Kangerou and the wild Camargue bull steak. A quick trip to the toilet with a sign saying 'Watch out for Crocodiles, don't swim in the toilet' !!!

     During the 15th Century Nimes manufactured imported Egyptian cloth to make serge, an extremely strong canvas, and value for money for poor people. It was exported all over Europe as 'articles de Nimes' DENIM. It later passed through the port of Genoa to the United States to be manufactured by Levi-Strauss who made Jeans from his denim cloth to dress the pioneers who had to endure a hard life -A LEGEND WAS BORN.