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The ancient Romans were prolific builders. They certainly left their architectural imprints across France. The Maison Carrée (square house) in Nîmes is a fine example of an ancient Roman temple in the Vitruvian style. The temple was dedicated to the grandsons of Augustus according to the reconstructed inscription from 1758 which reads: "To Gaius Caesar, son of Augustus, Consul; to Lucius Caesar, son of Augustus, Consul designate; to the princes of youth."

The Maison Carrée is on a raised podium with six Corinthian columns across its façade and a deep pronaos or porch. Twenty columns attached to the wall line the sides and back of the building. The Roman style ceiling is from a restoration done in the 19th century. There is only one windowless cella or cult room in the temple.  A 3D film about the founding of Nîmes is shown continuously throughout the day in the cella. 

The Arènes de Nîmes is an elliptical shaped Roman amphitheater from the second half of first century. It was built to accommodate twenty four thousand spectators watching ancient Roman games and gladiatorial battles. The arena is now used for bullfights during the annual festivals held in June and September and various concerts. Admission to the amphitheater is 10 euros. This includes an audio guide.

Thirty four rows of terraces encircle the ring and each spectator has an unobstructed view of the arena. 

The amphitheater has a double row of arches covering two levels. Spectators entered and exited the arena through these arcades from the ground floor. Stairs and galleries lead to the seating area. 

Not much is known about the Temple of Diana. It may not have been dedicated to Diana, the goddess of hunting. Nor is it clear what its purpose was. What is known is that it was used as a church in the middle ages until it was destroyed during the French Wars of Religion in the 16th century.

The cella (cult room) hints at its former glory. 

The niches with wide pediments on the walls of the Temple of Diana may have been used to store books. No one knows for certain. 

The Temple of Diana is in the beautiful Jardins de la Fontaine. There is no entrance fee.

Christopher Wren said, "Architecture aims at eternity". Judging from the longevity of these ancient Roman structures, that was the goal of their builders.

How to get to Nîmes:
There is no direct train service from Nice Ville to Nîmes. Train stops in Marseille St. Char where you transfer to the train bound for Nîmes.
Several trains run daily between Lyon Part-Dieu and Nîmes.

Where to stay:
Ibis Styles Nîmes Centre Gare
Allée Boissy d'Anglas
There are two Ibis hotels near the train station in Nîmes. One is Ibis Budget and the other is Styles. They are located in the same building with separate entrances. Breakfast is included at Styles. Both are within walking distance to the Roman amphitheater. There is a mini supermarket nearby.

Where to eat:
Paul at the Central Station
I often stop at Paul to pick up pastries and baguette sandwiches at any of its branches in France. Its location in Nîmes is convenient and they offer a tempting array of pastries, bread and a selection of sandwiches, quiche lorraine, and salads for less than 10 euros.


Images by TravelswithCharie 

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