Experiencial Travelers

Nimes from the Tour Magne

Nimes from the Tour Magne

Our move from Cruzy to Nimes wasn’t quite as delightful as we had hoped.  We took five hours to drive from Cruzy to Nimes, a trip that our GPS said would take a bit less than two hours; but we had planned on that as we wanted “to see some of the countryside.”  Who knew that we would see 4 and half hours of pretty damned dull countryside.  I don’t quite know how we managed it.  We did finally arrive in Nimes and then spent 35 minutes driving in circles trying to find a place to park in the middle of an old city which is primarily pedestrianized.  We managed to find a parking garage only moments before we would have hurled the GPS out of the car’s window.  One more sequence of “turn left and then turn left” and Natalie would have been history.  We then wandered seemingly aimlessly but increasingly frantically looking for our lodgings; we had told our host we would be there at a specific time and that time was rapidly approaching.  I still don’t know how we did it but we did eventually find the right door and bell and were let into 6 rue du Chapitre.

Two trips back and forth to the parking garage, schlepping suitcases and provisions and we were settled.  A bottle of wine later and we were ready to beging planning for the next day.  As we looked around our very modern, very eclectically decorated apartment, we realized that there wasn’t a map or brochure to be seen.

At one of the Mid-Valley Travel Club presentations, a presenter described himself as an “experiencial traveler,” meaning that he didn’t do a lot of research before he went on a trip. He preferred to just experience whatever might happen rather than have preconceived notions about what he was going to see. I guess it’s what we used to call “going with the flow.”

Regardless of its meaning, I have adopted the phrase “experiencial traveler” for myself; but in my case it usually means that I have been too lazy to do any pretrip planning. When we set off on this trip to France, I didn’t even tear out a few pages from my Michelin guide to bring along. Most of the time, when we get to our rented lodgings, there is a plethora of local information. Well, for Nimes, that has not turned out to be the case.

Thank god for the internet.  We made a note of the tourist information office and that was our first stop on Saturday.

It turns out that this apartment is very well located to see pretty much everything there is to see in Nimes.  There are a number of Roman remains in remarkable states of preservation and there is a fabulous covered market and lots of great restaurants all within very easy walks.  Perhaps that is why I rented this particular place.

Our first full day, Saturday, was crammed full.  We began at Les Halles, the covered market, and, using a magazine article my cousin Claire had given me, we had a great time wandering around and buying local specialties:  Brandade de morue (a codfish spread), petit pate de Nimes (a small, pastry filled with pork and veal, and hard little cookies called croquants, which, according to legend, were originally made by one particular bakery to use as change when there was a shortage of small coins in France.  All were yummy.

After fortifying ourselves with Nimois goodies, we visited the Maison Carree (an ancient Roman temple), the Roman amphitheater, and finally the Jardin de la Fontaine with the Tour Magne perched at its peak.  The day was glorious and we felt as though we had experienced plenty by the time we made our way back to our little home from home.

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