Highlights of Languedoc, a bike tour – Stage 4 Arles to Nimes

Breakfast was nothing special at Hotel du Forum in Arles and we were away well before 09.00. We spent a little time seeing sights we had missed the previous day and rode round the arena before setting off on our track. This took us down to the River Rhone where we watched tourists disgorging from cruise boats and being loaded into tour coaches.

View southwards with the city of Arles and the River Rhone

View southwards with the city of Arles and the River Rhone

The first main town we encountered was Tarascon, which, by luck, we reached just in time for a coffee in the main street. The day was hot and the mistral was developing nicely; by the afternoon it proved to be quite a hindrance to cycling. Tarascon was built at an important Rhone river crossing point and acted as a frontier fortress in Roman times. There is still a castle there (https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Tarascon#/media/File:Tarascon_Castle_on_the_Rh%C3%B4ne.jpg)Tarascon_Castle_on_the_Rhône


Portail St Jean one of the remaining gates in the old city walls

but unfortunately we had no time to visit. There were also some impressive buildings in the main street.

After our coffee stop we continued by crossing the Rhone and passing the castle, heading through Beaucaire, the town on the opposite bank of the river. In Beaucaire we followed a bustling canal for a short distance then headed off on a complex set of road turnings, where the odometer and the green E route signs were invaluable. Then the written instructions started to unravel. We found a green E arrow sending us left when the written instructions indicated a right turn. We negotiated that part successfully but then lost the plot completely, and even our road map was not much not help; the roads seemed to all be new and not on our map. We were cycling on quiet roads through vineyards and thought we could see our destination, Nimes, in the far distance but no roads headed that way! This part of the journey turned into a bit of a drudge with a strong mistral and a trip along a main dual carriageway road, although I did manage to spot a hoopoe. We eventually found a cycle track that was headed for Nimes and about 4pm located our hotel for the night. It turned out to have an English owner, who was very pleasant. We put our bikes in a garage about 100m down the street from the hotel. The garage had a roll up metal door with key code entry and automatic closure. The first time it closed we were fearful that we were trapped there for the night! It was cavernous and dimly lit, which caused a problem with the combination bike lock. This was quite a tiring day especially with the wind and sun. I think we cycled about 60km, and the shower was most welcome.

Nimes is a busy city. We headed for the amphitheatre, which was closed.

The amphitheatre at Nimes

The amphitheatre at Nimes

It was being prepared for a concert series involving some famous names, Bjork, Radiohead, Sting and Elton John to name a few. It clearly is a major feature of the city (https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/N%C3%AEmes)Nîmes,_Centre_ville

We strolled around to take in the sites, following a walking tour recommended in a guidebook.

Esplanade Charles de Gaullewith Fountaine Pradier and Eglise St Perpetue

Esplanade Charles de Gaulle with Fountaine Pradier and Eglise St Perpetue

There was loads to see and we did not really have enough time to do it justice.

Maison Carree

Maison Carree

The Maison Carree (Square House) is a well preserved Roman temple first built in 13BC. It stands in the middle of an area that was previously the forum and is juxtaposed by a steel glass and concrete building: the Carre d’Art – an art gallery and library designed by Sir Norman Foster and completed in 1993. We also visited the Jardins de la Fontaine, which was pleasantly cool in the shade.

Quai de la Fontaine

Quai de la Fontaine

That evening we had an excellent 3 course meal at Le P’tit Nimois in the market place accompanied appropriately with some Costieres de Nimes red wine.


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