This was a funny day and unfortunately Paula’s email was the perfect summary. As I claim some contributory rights, I am going to quote it here as soon as we get back – I really could use a cut-and-paste function on the iPhone.

The photos below are typical of the day: the bridge, finding a French version of Games Workshop for Dom, and rejoicing in the fact that French hardware stores are “bricollages”. Roland Barthes and the post-modernists, eat your hearts out.

  

 

Hi all,
Had to share our story of our last real day in France in a place called Nimes  pronounced Nima by the French) . We are staying in Avignon and had wanted to do a day trip to see the Roman arena in Nimes as well as other historical sites. It Is a 30 min train ride from Avignon and so  armed with our 8 Euro each return train ticket we set off.

We noticed upon arrival that the guts of the main roads were being ripped up to install a tramway making navigation around the main square difficult. In the distance we could spot the arena and headed towards it. Our attention was diverted by a gathering of people outside the Palais de Justice blowing whistles and yelling out slogans which Chris deduced to be the French version of “the workers united wil never be divided”. Closer inspection of the gathering revealed Municipal Police chained  together protesting about poor pay and conditions.

Being long term residents of NSW we took this in our stride and returned to our mission. The arena is not hard to
miss but the Tourist office is- it had been demolished. We took cursory shots of the exterior and looked suitably impressed at the outline of the long demolished Roman Walls.

We continued walking around searching for the entrance. On the other side, we noticed another protest or was it a gathering of protests. Initially, Chris thought it was the Young Communist Tea Towel collecting convention. But no!! We had struck a handy confluence between the population of Nimes- who had decided that they really hated the Maire (Mayor) – and the pro Palestinians for whom any demonstration is a good demonstration. These groups were being overseen by some very enthusiastic Gendarmes (National Police) strutting their stuff in their action man uniforms.

Not deterred by our inability to escape from the square, we returned to our original mission, only to discover that the Arena visits office had gone out in sympathy. We looked in vain for a scab centurian willing to cross the picket line to let us in but to no avail.

We then spied what we thought was an ancient ecclesiastical monument ( Carholic church) knowing that they would never go out in sympathy with the angry mob, alas it turned out to be a cheap 19th century copy of no particular style. It wasn’t even called Notre Dame!

As we turned out of the church h a d Protest 1 and the light dawned, chained to the fence in all their day glo glory was the entire municipal Police force who had decided to hate the mayor from a completely different direction.

Feeling totally defeated, we made an ANZAC style withdrawal from Nimes and in the grand Aussie tradition, found an Irish pub in  Avignon to drown our sorrows and remember better days in France.

Love Paula and Chris