13 things to see in Nîmes, France

Nîmes: What’s to see in 1 day?

The Esplanade of Nîmes

Travellers who only have a day to explore Nîmes are saved by the proximity of all the places of interest. The city has a rich history: in ancient times, it was considered the capital of a strong Gallic tribe. It was conquered by the Romans 120 years before Christ.

Until today, the magnificent buildings of that era have been preserved in Nîmes. If you don’t have a clear plan of what to see in Nîmes, we recommend checking out the sights below or taking a guided tour by a resident of the city. In general, if you travel through Provence you shouldn’t miss Nîmes: its ancient architecture and cultural heritage will not leave you indifferent.

The Fountain Garden in Nîmes

Fountain Garden

The Jardin de La Fontaine, or Garden of Fountains, is in the heart of the city. The Jardin des Lafontins is a walkway with statues, artificial lakes, and of course, fountains. Arranged this garden on the model of Versailles. However, unlike its aristocratic elder brother, the Fountain Garden was designed for walks of citizens of different social groups. It is considered one of the first public parks in Europe.

The Fountain Garden opened in the 18th century. The place for it was not chosen by chance. It is in this part of the city are the most important historical monuments, left by its ancient owners, the Romans. Sophisticated French decided that it is especially pleasant to admire the majestic ruins, strolling in the shade of trees and under the splash of cool water. The calculation proved correct. The Fountain Garden, built in the classical style, became the perfect frame for the masterpieces of Roman architecture. To see them all, you don’t have to go anywhere: everything is right here, in the center of the city.

Nîmes Amphitheatre

Nîmes Amphitheatre

By the time the construction of the Fountain Garden began, the Nîmes amphitheatre was listed as one of France’s top tourist attractions. There he is listed to this day. This structure could well compete with the Colosseum in Rome. It was built on the same principle by order of Emperor Augustus, whose army conquered this piece of land from the Gauls. It is believed that the construction began immediately after the announcement of the Roman victory, i.e. in 120 BC.

The amphitheater still performs its main function as a place for performances. Only the repertoire had changed. Originally gladiatorial fights were staged here, but today mostly bullfights are held there. Large-scale concerts used to take place in the amphitheater. Many world-renowned musicians used to perform here. There is enough room for the audience: the amphitheater is designed for more than 20 thousand seats.

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Read more: “Bullfighting in Provence

Manh’s Tower

Manu Tower

As you stroll through the Garden of Fountains, take note of the hill that rises above the park. It’s well worth the climb. Here is another legendary structure – the tower of Manh. It means “big tower” in French.

In fact, it is certainly not the Eiffel Tower, it is not that big, only 36 meters in height. However, in the 3rd century BC, when, according to historians, the tower was erected, it was certainly impressive. For what purpose was organized this grandiose for those times construction, is not known for certain. According to one version, it had a military purpose. According to another, its purpose was cultic, and the tower was used as a mausoleum.

Another more recent legend is connected with the Man tower. In the 17th century, a local resident said he had managed to decipher Nostradamus’ message related to the site. In his opinion, the soothsayer indicated that a treasure was hidden at the foot of the tower. He gained the support of the authorities and began to excavate. The tower was half-ruined in the course of his work, but he did not find any gold. Nevertheless, from time to time there are adventurers who claim that the great “treasure of Nostradamus” is still “out there”.

Temple of Diana

Diana Temple

Next door to the Tower of Man, at the foot of the same hill, is another no less mysterious structure, known as the Temple of Diana. Although few historians today believe that the goddess of hunting was once worshipped here.

The only accurate date of the temple’s construction is the 2nd century B.C. The interior design of the building raises a lot of questions. The central hall, where columns and pilasters are still visible, is in a good state of preservation. Such decorations are characteristic of temple constructions and … baths. The proximity of the source also testifies in favor of this theory.

Place de la Maison Carree

Maison du Carais

A couple of blocks from the Garden of Fountains is another monument not to be missed. The Maison de la Maison Carree or Square House. It’s a Roman temple from the 1st century B.C. It was built by order of Emperor Augustus to honor his grandsons Gaius and Lucius. They were killed in battle when they were very young. The building was austere and majestic. For many centuries it was considered a perfect architectural work. Temples were built in its image in France and beyond.

Over more than two thousand years of existence, the Maison Carais has seen much. In the 4th century it was turned into a Christian temple. In the Middle Ages, consuls and ambassadors met there. French revolutionaries in the 17th century converted it into stables. Only a century later the horses were removed from the ancient temple and a museum was founded there.

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Museum of Modern Art

It was nothing short of French wit that made it necessary to build the Museum of Modern Art right across the street from the grandiose two-thousand-year-old Maison Carais. As a result, “yesterday” and “today” coexist on the same small town square: a monumental ancient temple and a light, “airy” house in a futuristic style. A visit to the museum is sure to be interesting for connoisseurs of new styles. There are exhibitions of works by prominent contemporary artists.

Pont du Gard

Pont du Gard

Strictly speaking the aqueduct Pont du Gare, or bridge over the Gare, is located not in Nîmes itself, but in its suburbs. However it is worth getting in the car, driving 20 km along the A 9 and seeing it for yourself. Many people probably know it from the picture: it is the bridge on the Euro 5 bill.

The Pont du Gare is another testimony to the greatness of the Roman Empire. According to the latest data, the aqueduct is the same age as our era, its construction began in the 1st century. It is amazing how engineers and workers of that time managed to build a hydraulic structure 275 meters long and 47 high, which even after two thousand years perfectly fulfills the functions of the bridge. The original purpose of the aqueduct was to supply the city with drinking water. It was part of a vast 50-kilometer long aqueduct. This explains the need for three levels.

No other aqueduct from the Roman Empire has survived as high as this one, not even in Rome. On the eve of the bicentennial of this grandiose construction in 1985 it was placed under UNESCO protection. However, this does not prevent tourists from visiting: one of the tiers of the aqueduct is open, anyone can cross from one bank of the Gara to the other, as it was done centuries ago.

” READ ARTICLE – All About Pont du Gard

If the night is caught in Nîmes…

A Night in Nîmes

The need to spend the night in Nîmes should not be intimidating. Finding a comfortable place to rest here is not difficult at all. You don’t even have to leave the historic part of town. Here, on the narrow pedestrian streets, among the small houses built several hundred years ago, there are numerous cafes, pastry shops and hotels. Particularly famous are the following:

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Nimotel .

The hotel is within walking distance of the main attractions of Nîmes. It is located in an old building under a red tile roof. The hotel is surrounded by a beautiful garden.

Cote Patio

Cote Patio is separated from the famous Amphitheatre by a five-minute walk. The highlights of the hotel are the cozy patio, open in warm season, and the vintage furniture, with which the hotel is filled with.

Appart Hotel Odalys Le Cheval Blanc

Design hotel located in an old building in the city center. It attracts with its futuristic design, which blends perfectly with the carefully preserved masonry and plaster of the ancient walls.

13 things to see in Nîmes, France

Nîmes, France – the most detailed information about the city with photos. The main sights of Nîmes with descriptions, guides and maps.

City of Nîmes (France)

Nîmes is a city in the south of France in the Occitania region. It is located near the Rhone Valley and is the capital of the department of Gare. Nîmes is one of the oldest cities in the country, which is literally frozen on the threshold of Antiquity. Ancient Roman monuments are scattered throughout the historic center and some of them are preserved in perfect (for their age) condition. Nîmes also has a charming old town with pleasant green streets, squares and cafes, which has preserved the atmosphere of the southern French province and a rich historical heritage.

Things to do (Nîmes):

€110 per excursion

Nîmes – “little Italy”

Enchanting town in the south of France

Geography and climate

Nîmes is located at the foot of the Garrigue plateau 20 km west of the Rhone. The city is on the border of Provence 35 km from the Mediterranean coast. Nîmes is one of the warmest cities in France. It has a Mediterranean climate, hot summers, humid warm autumns and mild winters.

Evening Nîmes

Evening Nîmes

Tourist information

  1. Population – more than 140 thousand people.
  2. Area – 161.85 km 2 .
  3. Language: French.
  4. Currency – euros.
  5. Visa – Schengen.
  6. Time – Central European UTC +1, in summer +2.
  7. Nîmes is located on the railway line from Montpellier to Avignon. Also by train you can reach the city from Paris, Lyon and Lille.
  8. The C30 bus connects Nîmes with Arles.
  9. A small international airport is located 20 km from the city. It flies to London, Liverpool, Brussels.
  10. The local specialty is cod with mashed potatoes, milk, garlic and olive oil. Also popular is Gardiane de Taureau, a beef stew with vegetables.
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History

In ancient times, Nîmes was the capital of the Celtic tribe of the Volk. In 121 BC these lands were conquered by the Roman Empire. The city on the site of a Gallic settlement was founded by Emperor Augustus. At that time more than 50 thousand people lived in Nîmes and it was surrounded by a ring of fortress walls. The Romans built an aqueduct and an amphitheater here, one of the largest in the Roman Empire. Nîmes reached its peak of prosperity in the 3rd century. Later the palm shifted to the neighboring Arles.

Nîmes became a colony of Rome in 28 BC. The city was called Nemavus and was the capital of Narbonne.

Panorama of Nîmes

Panorama of Nîmes

During the collapse of the Roman Empire Nîmes was sacked by the Vandals and later by the Visigoths. Nîmes was later overrun by the Arabs and expelled by the Franks. After the collapse of Charlemagne’s empire, Nîmes became part of the dominion of the Counts of Toulouse. In 1229 the city was annexed to the Kingdom of France.

Nîmes

Nîmes

During the Reformation, Nîmes was one of the centers of the Huguenot movement. This resulted in several violent religious clashes. By the mid 17th century, Nîmes was in its heyday which ended with the arrival of the French Revolution.

Attractions

The Arena

Amphitheatre (Arena)

The Arena is an impressive Roman monument, the most important monument of the Roman period and a witness to the ancient history of the city. The amphitheater dates back to the 1st century A.D. and could seat 24,000 spectators. It is one of the largest structures of its kind in the world and probably the best preserved. The sixty graceful arches of the exterior are decorated in the lower part with pilasters and in the upper part with decorative Doric semi-columns. The amphitheater had more than 100 entrances – exits and could be filled up / emptied in a few minutes.

In the 5th century the amphitheater was converted into a fortress and in the Middle Ages into a castle of knights. Its ancient structure was restored only recently. Now it is used for various cultural events and bullfighting.

Maison Carré

Maison Carré

The Maison Carré is an amazing building that is one of the rare fully preserved classical Roman temples. The structure was built between 20 and 12 B.C. during the reign of Emperor Augustus and was one of the main temples of the ancient Forum. The Maison Carré was inspired by the temples of Apollo and Mars in Rome and features harmonious classical proportions. The facade has 15 tall Corinthian columns. The temple was used as a monastery in the Middle Ages.

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Jardins de la Fontaine

Jardins de la Fontaine

The Jardins de la Fontaine (Gardens of the Fontaine) are a beautiful garden park located on the site of an ancient spring not far from the Maison Carré. The ornate gardens were laid out around former fortified ramparts in the 18th century. They have several levels and are decorated with fountains and sculptures. There are also the mysterious ruins of the ancient Roman temple of Diana.

La Tour Magne

La Tour Magne

La Tour Magne is an ancient tower on top of the Jardins de la Fontaine. It is all that remains of the Roman fortifications of Nîmes.

Auguste Gate

The Gate of Augustus

The Gate of Augustus is an ancient Roman gate that gave access to the city through fortifications. They are located on an ancient road that led to Rome. The gate is thought to date from the 15th century BC and was later incorporated into the walls of the medieval fortress. They were discovered at the end of the 18th century.

Notre Dame-et-Saint Castor de Nîmes

Notre-Dame-et-Saint-Castor-de-Nim

Notre-Dame-et-Saint-Castor-de-Nim is a Romanesque-Gothic cathedral built on the site of a former Roman temple. The church was erected in the 11th century and damaged during the Huguenot wars.

Basilica of Saint Perpetua

Church of St. Perpetua

The Church of St. Perpetua is a beautiful eclectic church with a high bell tower. It was completed in 1864. The church overlooks the esplanade of Charles de Gaulle with shady plane trees, in the center of which there is a beautiful fountain. The sculpture of a woman on it symbolizes the Maison Carré, and the sculptures below represent the four springs that feed Nîmes.

Saint Baudile Church

Church of St. Bodile

The Church of St. Bodile is a neo-Gothic church built between 1867 and 1877.

Nîmes Museums:

  • Carré d’Art, a museum of contemporary art.
  • Musée du Vieux Nîmes – Old Nîmes museum with collections illustrating the city’s history from the Middle Ages to the present day.
  • Musée des Cultures Taurines, a bullfighting museum just steps away from the ancient amphitheater.
  • Musée des Beaux-Arts – Museum of Fine Arts with collections of French, Flemish, Dutch, German, Italian and Spanish artists.
  • Musée de la Romanité – archaeological museum, which contains several thousand exhibits from prehistoric items of the Iron Age to the Gallo-Roman times.

Interesting guided tours

Grand Tour of Montmartre

from €105 for a guided tour

Grand Tour of Montmartre

The Moulin Rouge, Dalida House, Villa Léandre, Chateau des Mists and other iconic spots of the bohemian quarter

The fabulous Louvre for ages 6 and up.

from €130 for a guided tour

The Louvre for children ages 6 and up

An educational but not boring adventure which will be memorable for young travelers

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