Cheap Seats: Bargain fares to Basel and Nimes
November 8, 2006
Here is a sampling of airfare offerings gleaned from the Web site Skyscanner.net. Be sure to check with the airline for the latest update on security and delays.
Next weekend — Nov. 17-19Basel, Switzerland: 59.59 pounds round trip
Fly Easyjet from London Stansted to Basel.
Basel offers winter tourists plenty of art and antiquities, whether they’re just looking or looking to buy.
Start with a visit to the Foundation Beyeler and the private collection of Earnest and Hildy Beyeler. The collection, which they started to decorate their own home, is now open to the public. It includes works by Andy Warhol, Georges Seurat, Jackson Pollock and other artists.
Next, visit the Fine Arts Museum, the oldest museum in Switzerland. It contains a fine collection of paintings and a courtyard with sculptures Pablo Picasso, Marc Chagall and more. A five-minute walk away is the Kunsthalle gallery, showcasing contemporary artists’ experimental works.
If, after seeing all that art, you want some of your own, the city has many galleries specializing in art, furniture, ceramics and silver antiquities.
For a look into Basel’s past, visit the Historisches Museum Barfusserplatz, a 14th-century Franciscan church-turned-museum. It contains relics of medieval Basel. Then visit the Gothic cathedral and climb one of the twin towers for a breathtaking view of Basel.
For something a little different, head to the Three Countries Corner where you can cross from Switzerland into Germany and then into France — all with just a few steps.
Next month — Dec. 15-17Nîmes, France: 44.42 pounds round trip
Fly Ryanair from London Luton to Nîmes.
Advertised as being blessed by the gods, Nîmes celebrates 300 days of sunshine a year and a well-preserved Roman past.
A good starting location for a weekend in Nîmes is the Jardin de la Fontaine. This French garden, featuring rows of chestnut and elm trees intersected by grottoes and canals, is open year round. Within the garden are the ruins of the Temple of Diane and a Roman bath.
A short walk north from the city center is Mont Cavalier, a rocky hill on top of which sits the bulk of Tour Magne, the city’s oldest Roman monument. The panoramic view of Nîmes from here is definitely worth the walk.
Take a stroll along one of the city’s busiest streets, the Boulevard de l’Amiral Courbet, to the Porte d’Auguste. The Roman gate was built during the reign of Caesar Augustus, right around the birth of Jesus. A short walk away is the Maison Carrée, a near-perfect Roman remnant, also built during Caesar’s reign. According to a Frommer’s travel guide, this building with its tall Corinthian columns inspired some of Thomas Jefferson’s architectural designs.
Maybe the most vivid example of ancient Roman architectural savvy is the Pont du Gard, a bridge created of huge stones fitted together without mortar. It has its own museum, La Grande Expo du Pont du Gard, with exhibits on the bridge’s construction and role through history.
Airfare prices are courtesy of the Web site www.skyscanner.net and are subject to change depending on availability. Prices include estimated taxes.