Civil Engineering…

2016-02-29 19.45.34We have been in Nimes, France for the past day. We are staying in a charming loft WAYYYY up the hill. This is great exercise since ANY meal requires a 200ft vertical descent followed by a similar ascent. No gaining weight here! And, streets are VERY narrow and winding. Some two-way streets are barely wider than our (small) rental car. Amazing to watch garbage trucks navigate them.

And another overall comment: Almost all of our places to date have had somewhat vertically challenged shower/bathroom arrangements. This pic is from Lyon; in Nimes I bang my head every morning on the ceiling heading to the toilet.

What Nimes has to offer is AWESOME ROMAN STUFF. There is an arena, a temple (a couple, actually) and an aquaduct. All from about 100AD and some of the best preserved anywhere. We visited the Aquaduct today (Pont du Gard) and found that there is also an absolutely fantastic museum there. This museum is the best I have seen (and I’ve been to Rome) at describing the architecture and engineering that went into the building of these hydraulic lynchpins of the Roman Empire.

The museum talked about the tools used to plan and lay out the entire system, which brings water over 50km from Uzes to Nimes using existing topographic features, tunneling, the “bridges” that are previously “all” I thought of when discussing aquaducts, etc. It described and through videos and simulations, showed the quarrying, the design of the ceramic lining of the water channel, the creation of service access points, diversion points, etc.   It even described how the empire created and used lead pipes to deliver water to buildings (which is the EXACT technology used in Flint Michigan and Chicago — the latter until 1986 a requirement of Chicago building code).   Also preserved in Nimes is the “Castellum” which is the cistern to which the Aquaduct delivered water and from which lead “mains” carried water throughout the town.

Let’s just say that:

— I had NO IDEA the complexity and detail involved

— If I had seen any of this in my “formative” (vs. retired) years, I might have become a civil engineer!!

Lunch in a tent
Lunch in a tent

After trying to understand all of the engineering – feeding our brains — we needed to feed ourselves. SO we stopped in a little town and found a snack bar. There was a sign pointing to the “Jardin” so we thought that sounded nice and peaceful. The “Jardin” turned out to be a fantastic tent with linen table service. Our “Burger” (ok, dammit, we needed something “not French” today), was only 5e – much less than the tourist trap across the street (13e).   Staying in the “not French” theme, we are eating Vietnamese tonight.

Then tomorrow, we are going to make an ambitious trek: First to Avignon to the Palace of the Popes. Then driving onward to Nice, where we will spend a couple days on the Côte d’Azur (French Riviera). We found an AIRBNB for $55/night that is 500m from the beach.  After that, our plans are less clear. When the become clear (or when we get “there” wherever “there” turns out to be) we’ll write about it here.

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