« EdellinenJatka »
and which possesses the remains of an amphitheatre), the traveller crosses the Estrelles (part of the Maritime Alps), where the cork-tree, arbutus, and other evergreens, flourish luxuriantly, the air being perfumed by thyme and other aromatic plants, and descends to Cannes, delightfully situate on the bay of the same
The Mont Chevalier, on the summit of which are the ruins of a fort, commanding an extensive view, limits the town on the western side. The island St. Marguerite is about a league from the shore ; it is historically noted as having been the place of confinement of the “ Man with the Iron Mask.” The population of Cannes amounts to 5000 souls ; two or three English families reside near the town, in which, however, there are but few houses adapted for the reception of visiters. Cannes has, notwithstanding, the advantage of being on the high-road, and possesses others with respect to climate, being sheltered from the north, and perfectly so from the north-west by the Estrelles. The environs are beautiful and varied (especially near Grasse, about three leagues distant), and celebrated for its fruits and perfumery.* The port can admit tolerably large vessels. A steamer arrives weekly from Marseilles, carrying merchandise and the productions of the soil. A great part of the inhabitants are occupied in fishing. Cannes possesses considerable capabilities for improvement, and is likely to become a place of resort in the course of a few years for families who may prefer its comparative quiet to the movement of Nice, which is about four hours distant.
* From Grasse the courier leaves for Digue, whence there is a diligence by Gap to Valence, and one to Grenoble.
MARSEILLES TO TOULOUSE-NISMES_PAU AND ITS CLIMATE
-EAUX BONNES AND CHAUDES-BORDEAUX AND ITS CLIMATE-TOURS.
RESUMING the journey from Marseilles westward, the traveller may either take the steamer to Cette, or go by rail to Arles and Nismes : few persons at the present day would be disposed to prefer the boats drawn along the canal cut through the Camargue, a tract of marshy country enclosed between two branches of the Rhone, from which the sea was shut out by embankments constructed under Napoleon. This land is now available for the pasturage of extensive flocks and herds, which, on the approach of summer, driven up to the mountains.
Arles is an irregularly built town on one of the embouchures of the Rhone, which is navigable for largesized vessels. It contains about 20,000 inhabitants, and is alike celebrated for the beauty of the women, which is heightened by their picturesque costume, and for its Roman remains, of which the principal is an amphitheatre in tolerable preservation. Adjoining the cathedral are the cloisters, of which the gothic arches, supported by finely sculptured pillars, are good specimens of architectural skill in the earlier periods of Christianity.
One of the most magnificent remnants of Roman antiquity, the Pont du Gard, stands not far from the direct road from Avignon to Nismes, from which it is five miles distant. This stupendous erection, stretching across the valley of the Gardon, which served at the same time for a bridge and aqueduct, consists of three rows of arches, one above the other, in excellent preservation. When seen from below, the effect is very striking. This is one of the objects which does not disappoint the tourist's expectation.
Nismes is a handsome, clean, and cheerful-looking town, with a population of about 40,000 inhabitants, a large proportion of which number are Protestants, between whom and the Catholics a spirit of hostility exists, which has frequently broken out into riots attended with loss of life.
Nismes is not a place of much commerce, many of the inhabitants being rentiers, who are fond of amusement. It is, however, little resorted to by English families, though house-rent and provisions are cheap, and the climate better than that of Marseilles on account of its inland position, as also from its being in great measure protected from the north by the hills rising immediately behind it. It is, however, still too cold and exposed to the mistral and vent de bise to be a recommendable locality for persons in weak health. The chief streets and boulevards are lighted with gas, the cafés are numerous, some of them elegantly fitted up. The theatre is handsome, and the corps dramatique good. Like the Parisians, many of the inhabitants of Nismes live a good deal out of doors, and in places of public resort. Opposite the theatre is the celebrated maison carrée, one of the best preserved monuments of the Roman empire. The interior is now converted into a museum and picture gallery. A little further on, in a large open space, which admits of its being seen to advantage, stands the amphitheatre, the exterior of which is in perfect preservation, but the interior is a good deal dilapidated. There were thirty-five rows of seats, and upwards of 30,000 spectators could be accommodated, being about 10,000 more than the amphitheatre of Verona.
Few towns are so well supplied with public promenades as Nismes. Besides the boulevards and the extensive esplanade near the theatre, there is the Garden of La Fontaine, so termed from a large reservoir of water supplied by a canal, and in which are several arched recesses, said to have served for bathing in the time of the Romans. The garden possesses several avenues of fine chestnut trees, the intervening space being laid out in walks, between parterres of shrubs and flowers. It also contains the ruins of a temple of Diana, and other remains of antiquity. A winding path is continued up the hill, on a summit of which stands an imposing mass of brick-work, of a conical shape, termed the Tourmagne, being the largest of a chain of towers formerly occupying the heights, and connected by walls, vestiges of which are still visible in many parts. This tower may be seen from a considerable distance, and formerly served as a station for signals to vessels at sea.
Pursuing his journey westward, the traveller passes through a country of vineyards and olive plantations, in which stands the town of Lunel, celebrated for its sweet wines, and arrives at Montpelier. At the time when little was known respecting the climates of the continent, invalids were frequently sent from England to Montpelier. Many also resorted to it from different parts of France, attracted by the reputation of its fine climate, and the skill of its physicians. Numbers,
, however, acquired the sad experience, that there are few localities more prejudicial in cases of pulmonary disease. Speaking of Montpelier, Mr. Matthews observed : “ It is difficult to conceive how Montpelier ever obtained a name for the salubrity of its climate. For pectoral complaints it is probably one of the worst in the world. It is true there is almost always a clear blue sky, but the air is sharp and biting, and you are constantly assailed by the bise or the marin, and it is difficult to say which of these two winds is the most annoying. The one brings cold, the other damp; the climates of Europe are but little understood in England, nor indeed is it an easy thing to ascertain the truth with respect to climate. Travellers generally speak from the impression of a single season, and we all know how much seasons vary. Indeed, Nismes would have the advantage over Montpelier as regards climate, as it is in some measure sheltered from the north, to which Montpelier, lying on the acclivity of a hill, is completely exposed. As in Provence, the earth during great part of the year is parched up for want of rain; in summer the heat is oppressive, and the dust lies thick upon the ground. The best period for a short residence here, or at any of the towns in this