Friday, October 11, 2013

Roman Times and Nouvelle Times

Nimes is an adorable small town with a surprising amount of Roman ruins. Our only day here was not packed full of architecture, which little old sick me really appreciated.

We walked away from the city center to visit Nemausus, Jean Nouvelle's social housing project. It is two apartment buildings (that look vaguely like cruise ships) with three floors of apartments. Each unit is customizable on the inside. There is also parking beneath the buildings, which is a rarity in social housing. Sadly, the mayor decided the apartments were too awesome for social housing, so they are now inhabited by mostly young professionals, and there is still a need for social housing in the area. Way to go, Nimes.

I love how we just sit anywhere and sketch

The buildings are only as wide as one apartment is deep. It's a great solution for getting light into the apartments. There are no side windows, only ones at the front and the back (in the kitchen and the living area). But I realized, after doing a quick sketch of the sun and shadows on the building, the light isn't actually all that great. All of the units in the left building get a lot of morning sun in the living room, but only the top floor of the right building gets sun. And then in the afternoon, only the units in the right building get sun in the kitchen. It seems a little less than ideal.

My diagram of the situation


We were lucky enough to run into a friendly French man who let us into his unit to look around. He had four cats and a dog and kept trying to take our things in a joking manner. He didn't speak English, and we all laughed the first time he tried to grab at my sketchbook, so we think he kept doing it to make us laugh and show he wasn't a creep.


We walked to the old Roman arena next, where the host the bullfights. Southern France has a large bull fighting tradition like Spain, but in France they don't kill the bull. Mario described it as a dance between the matador and the bull, versus a battle.

We found a statue of a woman wearing the Maison Carree as a hat

My day ended at the Maison Carree again, where we all sketched a little bit. I FINALLY bought a couple new sketchbooks and excitedly used one at the old forum. I'm so excited, I almost want to finish my old sketchbook about ten pages early.


This is Norman Foster's Carre d'arte, which is across the street from the Maison Carree. He used some of the same language in his building as is in the old Forum

Then I headed home (after poking my head in the Carre d'arte by Norman Foster) for some pajama time and ramen noodles. Lucky for me, there was a hot water pot in my room, so I made some yummy instant noodles to help me with my cold. That night, we all got together to celebrate Greg's birthday. It was a good fun time! I'm wondering what MY birthday will be like in 5 days when we're at La Tourette. It's a monastery where there is no internet, a vow of silence, and lots of beautiful architecture.

We left Nimes for Firminy, and stopped at the Pont du Gard for two hours. It's the famous site of the Roman Aqueducts. They were so impressive and well preserved, and the craftsmanship was insane. The aqueducts were built in a time before cranes, so each stone was carried and lifted into place. All of this was done to get water to the small Roman towns. Crazy!


It was an absolutely beautiful day outside. It finally feels like fall now. Spain was in the 70s and 80s while we were there, but Friday was in the 50s. The air was crisp, the leaves are turning, and everything just feels right. Fall is my favorite season, can't you tell?

The view from the Pont du Gard


I'm actually disappointed that I'm missing fall back home. No pumpkins, no corn mazes, no leaves, no fall hikes with CJ... I'll just have to make up for it next fall!


  1. Fall is my favorite time of Year, too... Even the sad excuse for fall we get in tucson. But how cool to see those aqueducts! I can't imagine building such huge structures without mechanical help...

  2. The "social housing project" is interesting in its ultimate use that's for sure, especially with its use of light which like you said doesn't seem all that efficient. Anyhow...the old forum looks awesome for certain, and cool you got to see the Pont du Gard! Living in Aix-en-Provence means I'm not too far away from it, but I am really hoping I'll get to see it, either in the new few days with my parents while they're here or later on in the semester. Like Anna said, it's just so crazy to imagine it all being done with only people's bodies and strength to rely on!

  3. This is such an amazing trip that you're taking...and for school to boot! I'm really enjoying watching your trip, but wish I was on it too! Thanks for sharing :)