Thursday, February 6, 2014

A quick little getaway

On January 24 our good friends Louis and Valarie came for a visit.  They are from Los Angeles, avid climbers and it was their honeymoon.  They spent a few days in Paris before heading down our way. We have had great climbing weather since December 1, but the 8 days they were to be with us the forecast was rain, rain and more rain. Not good for climbers.  So we decided to head south to the Languedoc Roussillon region where there is great climbing and the weather looked perfect.  We rented a great little gite between Nîmes and Uzes which was perfect for the 4 of us.  Of course we had the dogs with us as well.

The first day we climbed at Roussan which was just east of where we were staying.  To get to the climbing area you had to rappel down a huge hole.  Pretty cool.  We had a great day of climbing.  The second day we climbed at Claret which was just west of us.  We love it there.  We cooked dinner together each night and played Quiddler in the evenings, along with drinking plenty of wine.
Louis looking out toward Roussan

Here I am rappelling down the big hole to Roussan
Nellie hanging at the crag
Louis climbing

Bruce belaying

On the 3rd day we took a rest day and headed down to Nîimes, which was about 30 minutes south.  I've been to many cities in France and this could be my favorite.  It's not too big, but beautiful.  It's a city that dates back to the Roman Empire.  The city derives its name from that of a spring in the Roman village.  The contemporary coat of arms of the city includes a crocodile chained to a palm tree, which we found most interesting, as it symbolizes the Roman conquest of Egypt .

Looking out over the city of Nîmes 

Walking along the canal

Augustus gave the town a ring of ramparts six kilometres (3.7 miles) long, reinforced by fourteen towers; two gates remain today: the Porta Augusta and the Porte de France. An aqueduct was built to bring water from the hills to the north. Where this crossed the River Gard between Uzes and Remoulins, the spectacular Pont du Gard was built. This is 20 kilometres (12 miles) north east of the city. Also, the Maison Carrée is one of the best preserved temples to be found anywhere in the territory of the former Roman Empire. The amazing amphitheatre dates from the end of the 2nd century AD. The elliptical Roman amphitheatre, is the best-preserved Roman arena in France. The movie Gladiator was filmed there and the history and how it was used was fascinating.   It was filled with medieval housing, when its walls served as ramparts, but they were cleared under Napoleon. It is still used today as a bull fighting (humane) and concert arena.  We spent 3-4 hours walking around the city, had a lovely dinner and then headed back to our gite.

Arena of Nîmes

Inside the Arena

Tunnels under Arena

Maison Carrée

Fountain of Gardens

Fountain of Gardens

Temple of Diana

The Magne Tower

The last day we went back to Claret to climb.  It wasn't raining, but it was cold and windy.  We stayed most of the day, but by 3:00 we had to pack it up as we were all freezing.  We left the next morning, but decided to stop in Millau so Valarie could do some shopping.  The city is known for it's leather. She bought some boots and a beautiful handbag.  Bruce got some gloves and I got a new makeup bag. We had lunch in Millau and then headed home.  Louis and Valarie left the next morning and we were sad to have them go.  I know that Bruce and I will be back to the gite and the area sometime soon.

Louis starting a climb and Nellie just hanging out

Bruce climbing at Claret

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