Explore a stunning assortment of Roman buildings in this Mediterranean town, including a temple and an amphitheater where gladiators fought for their lives.
During Roman times Nimes was an important and wealthy city. Evidence of its power and prestige can still be seen today in the well-preserved monuments in the center of the city. Aside from the ancient Roman heritage, Nimes is also well worth a visit for its old town, museums and beautiful public gardens.
Start your exploration of the city’s Roman history at Les Arènes, a Roman amphitheater that is approximately 2,000 years old. The massive arena is still in use today for a variety of events, including concerts and bullfights. Go to the old town for Maison Carrée, one of the most complete Roman temples in existence. Across from the building is Carré d’Art, a stunning steel and glass structure designed by Sir Norman Foster. It houses a contemporary arts museum.
There is more Roman history in the Jardins de la Fontaine, including the remains of the Temple de Diane. These are not the only reason to visit the 18th-century formal garden. There are canals, bridges, statues and a magnificent fountain.
Drive or take the bus to Pont du Gard, about 14 miles (22.5 kilometers) from the city. This Roman aqueduct bridge crosses the Gardon River and once carried water into Nimes from the town of Uzès. During the summer, relax on the beaches and swim in the river in the shadow of this marvel of Roman engineering.
At night, dine in a cozy brasserie or upscale restaurant, then round off the evening with a drink at a late-night bar on Ave Victor Hugo. During your trip you may hear locals telling you proudly about one of the city’s claims to fame. Denim was invented here and the name translates as “from Nimes”.
Nimes is situated in southern France, around than 35 miles (48 kilometers) from Montpellier, where there is an international airport. If you are just staying in the city, you can easily get around on foot, because all the main historic sights, museums and gardens are within easy walking distance of each other. If you rent a car, consider a daytrip to nearby Uzés, a medieval market town.