Visit Nimes (Languedoc-Roussillon, France)
Nimes is a city in the north-east of the Languedoc-Roussillon region (north-west of Arles and north-east of Montpellier). The long history of the town has left its mark, especially in the monuments from the roman period that dominate the centre of Nimes.
Nimes is one of my favourite French cities and you must visit if you are in the region!!
It is principally (but not only) the impressive Roman buildings in Nimes that are the big attraction. The two main constructions from the roman era are:
- the amphitheatre, 2000 years old and the best preserved Roman arena in France, is still used today for bullfighting. It is elliptical in shape and has two stacked rows of arcades in a structure than could hold more than 24,000 spectators.
- the maison carré, an exceptionally fine Roman temple (see also the Eglise de la Madeleine in Paris which was based on this temple) - indeed, the only complete Roman temple in the world
Across from the Maison Carré you will see the modern glass building designed by Norman Foster - the Carré d'Art (square of art).
Touted as a 'cube of glass', the the Carré d'Art seems perhaps less radical now than it did when it was constructed. Interesting to see nonetheless, it houses an important library and there is a cafe on the top level which overlooks the Maison Carré.
Continue along the Boulevard Alphones Daudet a little way, then pass through the modern plaza at Place d'Assas, with its interesting sculptures, and then continue along the Quai de la Fontaine to see the third important ancient monument in Nimes - the Temple of Diane, and the lovely gardens (and also a lovely way to escape from the bustle of Nimes) that run up behind the temple to the Magne Tower.
The Magne Tower is all that remains of the original city fortifications, and it is possible to ascend the tower for far-reaching views across Nimes and the surrounding region.
Neither the Diane Temple or the Magne tower in themselves are particularly exciting but the setting, with the pleasant walk through the carefully planted gardens between them, makes this one of the highlights of a visit to Nimes. (I do wonder why the large open area in front of the Diana Palace has been left as a large area of gravel rather than planted in keeping with the hillside behind though...)
There are also plenty of shady spots to sit and relax or picnic in these gardens.
Other places to visit in Nimes
Ancient history out of the way, you can return to Nimes centre. There is an impressive and vibrant 'old town' (based around the Place aux Herbes and the Place d'Horloge) where fashionable shops and restaurants are set in the narrow ancient streets to create a very attractive environment, opening into cafe lined squares from time to time.
The buildings in the centre are mostly of the 'grand 19th century' style with wrought iron balconies and design features. There are shops for all tastes here, and also a commercial shopping centre if you still have some money left. There are ample places to stop and take a drink or meal in a shady restaurant.
There are several museums in Nimes, including Museums of Contemporary Art, Fine Arts, Bullfighting, Archaeology and Natural History, and a Museum dedicated to Old Nimes. if the weather looks very poor the day that you visit you can buy a single ticket that entitles you to admission to all of these museums...
Enthusiasts of roman architecture have a lot to enjoy in the region near Nimes. Don't miss the Pont du Gard just to the north-east of the city and another fine Roman achievement, then Arles also has a very impressive colosseum. A little further afield, the theatre at Orange also dates from the roman occupation of France.
Photos of Nimes
Click any picture to start the gallery
Tourist classifications for Nimes
Nimes has received the following tourist classifications: historical protected town centre' (secteur sauvegardé); listed town of Art and History
Address: Nîmes, Gard, Languedoc-Roussillon, 30000 || GPS: latitude 43.837778, longitude 4.360833
Map of Nimes & places nearby
Highlights close by
Pont du Gard 19km
Suggested tourist attractions to visit near Nimes, France
- Jardins de la Fontaine - remarkable garden
- Camargue - grand site of france (18km)
- Pont du Gard - grand site of france (19km)
- Saint-Gilles ancienne abbatialle (monuments on French pilgrim routes) - heritage site (19km)
- Saint-Gilles - secteur sauvegarde (19km)
- Cathédrale Saint-Théodorit et Fenestrelle Tower (Uzes) - religious monument (20km)
- Uzes - town of art and history (20km)
- Sommieres - secteur sauvegarde (23km)
- Beaucaire - recommended detour (23km)
- Etang de Scamandre - site of natural beauty (24km)
Market days in Nimes: Regular market(s) are held in Nimes each Wednesday & Tuesday & Monday all day & Friday. (Markets are held in the morning unless stated.)
The French version of this page is at Nimes (Francais)