As is generally the case on any holiday, I reach a point where the tiredness kicks in and the overwhelming number of photographs I have to process outweighs the amount of spare time I have at the end of the day.
So I have to confess that we are now back home in Melbourne, and I had planned to spend my last week of annual leave clearing up the backlog of photos and finishing off the remaining diary entries, but unfortunately I have been bedridden with a serious chest infection that I most likely picked up on the plane. Combined with jet lag, it’s meant that I haven’t been able to do much at all except sleep. And cough.
Anyway, I’m finally back in the land of the living, and the next stage of our journey that I need to tell you about was our rail trip to Nîmes, to spend a night and a day in “the most Roman city outside Italy” before heading back to Paris.
The train trip from Avignon to Nîmes was very quick (around half an hour) and although the bed & breakfast we were staying in wasn’t all that far from the station, we decided that because of the heat and the fact that we were carrying all of our luggage that we’d be better off catching a cab. Of course, this being an old Roman settlement, much of the inner centre of the city is either closed to traffic or one-way only, so it ended up being an epic taxi ride around the outskirts of the city to get in.
The b&b we had chosen was called Antichambre and was actually a series of rooms behind a home concepts/interior design store just a stone’s throw away from the massive Roman arena that dominates the centre of Nîmes. Our rooms weren’t going to be ready until later that afternoon, but our host Jeanluc met us at the shop and took our luggage in for us. He spoke just enough broken English that we were able to communicate alright. (“You are from Australie? Ah oui! Skippie!”) He gave us a map and a couple of restaurant tips for the evening, so we headed out to have a look around.
Being a Sunday, practically everything in Nîmes was closed, but there was a huge gathering of humanity around the cafés of Place du Marché, so we stopped there for a bite to eat. Unfortunately by this stage Ness had developed a bit of traveller’s tummy and was in serious need of some Imodium and a good lie down, but nonetheless she soldiered on. Meanwhile, I had decided to leave my camera with the luggage to give my aching shoulders a bit of a break (hence the lack of photographs in this post).
We found a nice looking café with plenty of umbrellas for shade, but the heat was absolutely stifling. The young waitress who took our order was very keen to practice her English skills and proved very helpful. When she noticed me looking at the business card that Jeanluc had given me for a restaurant called “The Bird”, she disappeared inside and grabbed another waitress who apparently worked there of a night, and within a few minutes we had a table for two booked for the evening. We asked her if she might be able to suggest a pharmacy that would be open in Nîmes on a Sunday, and she returned with an address and a mud map of the only one in all of Nîmes – she had even phoned ahead to confirm that they were open!
For some bizarre reason I decided to order Andouillettes du Canard, having assumed that my previous encounter with Andouillettes du Tripes had been so bad due to the key ingredient being tripe. Let’s just say that although there is some duck in Andouillettes du Canard (and thankfully no tripe), the main ingredient is still pork intestines. Although these ones were actually edible, I hereby declare that I will not be venturing back into the world of Andouillettes, whatever the type, in the foreseeable future.
After lunch we decided to walk to the pharmacy as Ness was really struggling, and although it was pretty much in a straight line and we were able to keep to the shaded side of the road for the most part, it was still an excruciatingly hot 45 minute walk. We arrived at 10 minutes past 3:00 pm – luckily as it turns out because like a lot of places in France, even when they’re “open”, they’re not actually open between 12:30 – 3:00 pm. The Imodiums cost us all of €1 – the taxi ride back to the B&B about €15.
We got back to the B&B at around 4:00 pm and managed to have a couple of nice beers and relax for a few hours in their lovely secluded courtyard. We then headed off at 7:30 pm for our dinner at “The Bird”
This fabulous, quirky bistro is run by a husband and wife team, and when we said that we were from Australia they couldn’t wait to tell us all about their boy, who lives in Perth and runs his own quirky establishment called “Wassup Dog”. Our meals and wines were delicious, and shortly after we’d arrived the husband walked up to the CD unit at the front bar, took off the clichéd French jazz CD that seems to be compulsory in every bistro in France, and instead whacked on Motorcade of Generosity by the American alternative band Cake. As he headed back to the kitchen, he gave us a grin and mimed a bit of air guitar. “Good music!”, he laughed. “Oui Monsieur – très bonne musique!” we laughed back.
The highlight of the night was the dessert, which we had planned to skip, (so full were we from the starters and mains), but when we saw that they did an Apricot Pavlova, we decided we’d have to share one. What arrived at the table looked like a standard meringue cup with a heap of whipped cream on top, but when we chipped into it with our spoons it collapsed into a delicious, gooey mess of the most delicious stewed apricots. An absolutely fitting end to a wonderful meal!
As we left we received a hug from the owner and when we promised to visit her son’s establishment when we were next in Perth, tears welled in her eyes. “Please give him a big hug and kiss from his momma” she said.