A Visit to the Pont du Gard and Nimes

Pont de Garde
Pont du Gard

 

In 1995, at a meeting of an international congress on photosynthesis at Montpellier in southern France, my colleague George Lorimer recommended Nimes to me as a place to visit. It took over ten years for me to act on his advice, when our tour bus took us there. Along the way, we stopped to look at the Pont du Gard, a Roman aqueduct. The link has a an animation of this structure, built during the first century C.E. using limestone from a nearby quarry, shipped to the site along the Gardon river. One can clearly see the channel where the water flowed along the top of the bridge.

At Nimes, we went first to the famous Roman temple, the Maison Carré, pictured in a Wikipedia article:

450px-MaisonCarrée
Maison Carrée, Nimes (https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Maison_Carr%C3%A9e)

Built around 4 to 7 C.E., it was dedicated to the memory of two relatives of Caesar who died young. This building served as an inspiration for later constructions, including the Église de la Madeleine in Paris.

The day of our visit was a festival day – most likely the annual Pentecost feria. There were many booths and exhibits and an interesting equestrian game.

Foire in Nimes
Paiella booth, Ave Jean Jaures

The picture below shows a participant in the game, also on the Avenue Jean Jaures. The competition centered on tennis balls perched on traffic pylons. In the picture, the rider has just picked up a ball with her right hand. The next step was to put the ball on another pylon. This rider had to have excellent control of the horse, especially challenging considering she is mounted sidesaddle.

Just grabbed ball from top of pylon
Ave Jean Jaures

The riders at this part of the festival, both men and women, were dressed in special costumes. I have not been able to find out anything about the game or the ceremonies that the riders engaged in. Perhaps some readers will be able to clear this up!

 

 

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