Day 48 and 49: Toulon and Nimes

Day 48

The trip from Nice to Nimes was a couple hours, so I figured I had time to stop somewhere on the way.  I chose Toulon because it’s a smaller town that’s home to the French Navy. I’m not exactly sure why I thought that was a must see, but it ended up being cool.

When I got off the train, my first goal was to find the lockers to leave my things for the day. Turns out, Toulon is a station that doesn’t actually have lockers… however, a bar half a block away does luggage storage. It may be the most sketchy place I’ve left my luggage, but they had a good system so I went with it. Most importantly, you had to be back by 6:30 to claim your things. Not a problem as I was intending to leave before then.

I headed down to the bay area, and over to the tourist information near by, as I had found that if you buy your boat tour ticket from the tourist office, it’s cheaper! Always good when it’s super easy.

The harbor
The harbor

The tour went around the bay, showing you the ships in port and a bit more about the coast line. However, the entire description was only in French, so I’m only slightly sure what we were looking at.

A few of the ships in harbor
A few of the ships in harbor

After the tour I spent some time wandering around town, and then ended up at the Navy Museum. I was very impressed with the museum overall. It explained how Toulon became to be such a prominent port as well as a bit of the history of ship evolution. I loved the explanation of how ships were built and repaired before the invention of the dry dock.

Showing how the mast is put into a boat.
Showing how the mast is put into a boat.
This is how they used to fix the hull of the ship, basically tipping the ship over.
This is how they used to fix the hull of the ship, basically tipping the ship over.

Perhaps my favorite display in the museum was the large picture of the harbor, which must have been taken from a helicopter.

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Near the museum they still have the building that was used to make ropes. It’s a super long building, no longer completely visible from the outside. Sadly, you can’t go in it, as I’m sure it’s been re-purposed by now.

After the museum, I headed back to the train station to catch a train to Nimes (ignore the s, it’s pronounced Neem). I was so happy to have not even half a kilometer to walk after I got off the train. I was staying in the Ibis Style chain, which totally fit the bill I was looking for: close, my own room, air conditioning. Pretty simple.

Day 49

I only had one day to fit all of the Nimes must sees in, so it was a busy day.

I started the morning off by checking out the Amphitheater. It’s from the Roman times and went through many different uses through out the years, including houses, as weird as that seems.

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After the Amphitheater I headed over to the square house, another roman thing in the city. This wasn’t so interesting, and is essentially all new now anyways. They show you a video which was a slightly hilarious roll play version of history. Not worth the stop in my opinion.

Continuing my trip through ancient things, I stopped at the Temple of Diana, which is at the base of a park. It was cool to see just because you can wander around. And because there was a hilariously translated sign which stated that you could “not escalade the walls”. Which obviously L’escalade would best translate as to climb, and just didn’t make the translation very well.

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The temple
The temple

Next up was the hike up hill to check out the tower. This used to be part of the walls of the city, but is now just a stand alone thing which they added a staircase in the middle so you can climb up to the top.

The tower
The tower

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I always feel better about being tired of walking up the hill and the steps when I finally get to the top and realize that this really is rather high above the rest of the city.

After this climb up, the climb down was quite nice. They have some nice little paths through the park. I headed back towards the center of the city to grab some lunch before heading off for the afternoon. And this is proof that the US even loses at food when it comes to salad. I think we just need to change what we consider a salad. IMG_3899

If you look hard, you can find the lettuce, under the awesome pile of meat and cheese. Ignore those breadsticks, I didn’t eat them, but they sure looked pretty. This wasn’t my first mostly meat salad either. I just don’t do well taking pictures of my food because I’m usually hungry and half way through before I remember.

After lunch I headed over to the bus rotary to grab a bus to the Pont du Gard. For such a draw, you’d think it would have been a bit simpler to figure out what bus I needed to take and where to get it and when it leaves, but in the end, I figured it out. After you get off the bus you walk for a while down the road, which had no signs. All this difficulty to figure out where you’re going would have made more sense until you get there and see the fact that there are buildings and well paved paths all over.

It was a very cool thing to see. The aquaduct spans the river, which had even by that time, clearly worn it’s way through the surrounding land. There are three levels of arches in order to make the top level with the surrounding hillside. This is what makes this section of the aquaduct so gorgeous and interesting. Even very near by it could have simply been a canal in the ground.

At the lowest level of arches, there was a secondary bridge built right next to the aquaduct which is what you use to walk from one side of the river to the other. They did an amazing job building it though because it’s actually pretty hard to tell that it’s way newer.

The first side you see, was all in shade.
The first side you see, was all in shade.
From the other side you get the gorgeous sunlit stones.
From the other side you get the gorgeous sunlit stones.
see look. I was there.
see look. I was there.

And perhaps the most unexpected part (except that I read it online before hand) is that this is the best place to swim for a long way around.

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It was like a giant beach party. But the water was very nice. The bottom was rocky, so I was once again wishing for those nice beach shoes I saw back in Nice. I think that I have very tough feet too, so it’s been crazy to be walking all wonky over the rocks.

After a swim I walked back to the bus stop. It was crazy hot, and I had soaked my shirt in the river before walking back, and it was totally dry by the time I got on the bus.

This was a fun filled busy day, and all I wanted to do was sit. And being that I had a room to myself, I intended to enjoy the calm alone time and relaxed in my hotel.

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