I saved a full day for the new Roman Museum in Nîmes. The town of Nimes has unearthed so many Roman artifacts that they built a museum. The town is also trying to become a UNESCO heritage site. The museum was so new that they hadn’t received their audio guides yet. I was fortunate that many things in the museum are in both French and English.
Before heading into the museum I grabbed coffee at a cafe on the ground floor. I randomly asked the man working there about the restaurant upstairs. I had heard good things about it. He said I should really have a reservation for lunch and then he offered to make one for me which I took him up on since my French isn’t great. It was a very thoughtful gesture.
I started my museum tour outside before I even bought my ticket. There is a replica of a roman garden. It has levels of different flowers, herbs and small trees. It was getting too hot to be outside so I headed into the air conditioned museum.
The museum has three floors and a mezzanine. The ground floor has a temporary exhibit area and this is where I started. There was an exhibit on gladiators that came in from Rome. It was great to see these artifacts after having learned about them a few days before at the arena. There were helmets and other armor as well as frescos and information about the gladiator training school.
It seemed someone had written on a column at the Gladiator School of Pompeii. They found bread that had been baked the day of the Mt. Vesuvius eruption and the inscription “On April 19th I baked the bread.”
After this amazing exhibit it was lunch time. The restaurant is on the top floor. The ticket to the museum allows one exit and entrance. I used this to go have my lunch. The restaurant has an amazing view of the arena and they sat me so I could look at it while I ate. After eating I walked around on the circular roof. There is a great view of most of the city from up there. When it got too hot I headed back inside for more Roman artifacts.
There were also artifacts from before the Romans took over. They showed what typical Gaul life was like and how they used to like to cut off the head of their enemy. They would bring them home to display.
The museum was filled with statues, column parts, pottery and coins from the roman empire and Nîmes’s own currency. They unearthed a lot of mosaics. Some covered whole floors. The museum created interactive exhibits to help explain the patterns and designs on some of the larger mosaic floors. They had also unearthed frescos and were able to recreate what the rooms would have looked like.
There was a room where the exhibit focused on recreating the text that was found on pillars and statues. This is called Epigraphy. A projection would appear on the wall and show the filled in information then disappear so you could see what was preserved over time.
Another room had all sorts of coins with information about the roman monetary system. One of the last rooms was filled with models and recreations of the most famous Nîmes monuments the way they were before a lot of reconstruction was done. They are 1/100 to scale.
After wandering the gift shop I walked around town to revisit the monuments before heading to the train back to Paris.
I’m already planning my trip back to Nîmes for next year.