The next four days where spent in the smaller but equally charming Nimes in Southern France. The city was an important Roman colony and is more than 2000 years old. The city was once occupied by Celtic tribes, but when the Romans gained control they surrounded it with a stone wall. A tower sits at the city's highest point and boasts a beautiful view of course! The biggest attraction within the city is the Arena. It is like a smaller verson of the Colosseum in Rome but is the best intact from the empire. Like the ampitheatres in Lyon, it is still used for concerts today.
We met a friend at the hostel, Gabrielle from Montreal, and together the three of us went to visit the Pont du Gard. It was about a 45 minute bus ride, but is absolutely stunning. Three tiers of Roman arches support the aqueduct/bridge that spans a deep green river below.
Yesterday we arrived in Montpellier and already we both feel it is one of our favorite towns. It is a university town full of life and something unexpected on every corner. We first visited the new aquarium called the Mare Norstrum. It is so huge that it takes 2 hours to go through the entire thing. There were of course huge tanks of a variety of corals, fish, lobsters, sharks, nautilus, pirrahnas and even penguins. They had simulations of a submarine and even a moving exhibit of a ship in a storm out at sea on the roaring 40s. It portrayed in detail different ecological marine habitats around the world from the tropics to the glaciated poles. Worth every Euro.
Coming back to the main square in the city at dusk we watched numerous street performers and break dancers. There was a street art show and even a giant timed game of chess, with pieces the size of construction cones, being played in the park which oddly enough resembled Laurelhurst park in Portland.
Today we have wandered about and visited the city's meandering streets lined with cafes, the numerous parks, fountains and olympic swimming pool. We even had time to visit the brand new giant library for a couple hours.