Retiring To Nimes, France

Retire In The Footsteps Of The Roman Legionnaires

In the late 1700s France began to ship a cotton twill material to the United States. It was this cotton twill that was shipped in substantial quantities to San Francisco during the California Gold Rush. Initially the material was called “Serge de Nimes,” in honor of the city where it was produced, the city of Nimes in southern France. Americans shortened this to, simply, “Denim.”

This same material was also shipped to Genoa, Italy, where it was made into trousers. The French nicknamed these trousers “Jeans,” as that was how they pronounced “Genoa,” more or less. And so the cotton twill trousers made from denim and shipped out to all those California gold rushers became known as “blue jeans.”

Nimes is a lovely city where, in Roman times, soldiers were given plots of land to farm in their retirement. Augustus Caesar liked Nimes and made it the capital of Narbonne Province in France. It was to provide water for Nimes that the Romans built the famous Pont du Gard aqueduct, which is also a bridge crossing high above the River Gardon, a breathtaking and inspiring engineering accomplishment. The Romans did a lot of other building in Nimes, too, and the city thrived during the first few centuries after the time of Christ.

One of the outstanding attractions in the center of Nimes is a slightly smaller version of the Coliseum that is in Rome. The one in Nimes is in much better condition than its better known counterpart in Rome, and it is still used for bullfights and other events that attract large crowds. In an aerial view of the city, its amphitheater (coliseum) can be clearly seen in the very heart of the city where all the major roads meet. You can shop in the old part of the city, linger at a sidewalk café, and tour the amphitheater all within a few blocks. This is a city for walking.

Southern France is lovely in the early spring when the trees leaf out early and the streets aren’t crowded with tourists. Really, though, Nimes is lovely at any time of year. A home of your own in Nimes itself isn’t a super bargain. You could invest in a four-room 1,000-square-foot home for US$260,000 to US$280,000 at current exchange rates. However, prices can be much more moderate in nearby villages.

You could follow the example of the Roman Legionnaires and retire to Nimes. Living here, you are close to Avignon and Orange, and Marseille is not far away either…

Orin Grovum

Continue reading: Live, Invest, And Retire In France

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