20 Unmissable Attractions in Nîmes

Nimes amphitheatre
Nimes amphitheatre | © peter castleton / Flickr
Photo of Holly Howard
15 May 2018

The city of Nîmes in the South of France has a rich Roman heritage, often being dubbed as the French Rome. A beautifully preserved Roman amphitheatre sits at its heart, but wind yourself round the attractive streets to really discover all that this dreamy southern city has to offer.

Jardins de la Fontaine

A vast 17th-century park right in the center of the city. Stroll around botanical gardens, sculptures, and numerous Roman ruins beautifully framed in this well-designed green space. King Louis XV’s idea behind the garden was to frame the ancient remains in a tranquil and visually aesthetic way.

Jardin de la Fontaine in Nimes, France | © jordan andrade / Flickr

Le Spot

A hip cultural dynamic is taking place in Nimes with eateries such as Le Spot injecting a bit of creativity into the historic city streets. You won’t miss it from the outside and within – a micro brewery with a great selection. One to check out.

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Arenes de Nîmes

The highlight of Nîmes, without a doubt. Dating back to 70 AD, the amphitheatre remains very much a part of modern city life in Nîmes, with the annual bullfighting – Feria de Nîmes – taking place each year as well as regular concerts amid the backdrop of this 2,000-year-old venue.

The Roman Arenes de Nîmes | © Wolfgang Staudt / Flickr

Les Halles

You’ll be spoiled for choice when it comes to food in Nîmes. The South of France knows how to do mealtimes right and this is no more apparent than in the region’s big covered marketplaces called les halles. Make sure to visit to simply take in the ambiance. The best time to feast is at lunch.

French markets in the South of France | © reginaspics / Pixabay

Maison Carrée

The incredible temple, Maison Carrée, boasts having one of the best-preserved Roman façades from the age of the Roman Empire. There is a small space to visit at the back of the temple, but locals just exist around it; sitting on a warm evening up against one of the columns, watching the world meander by.

Maison Carrée in Nimes | © Henri Sivonen / Flickr

Église Saint-Baudile

A neo-Gothic church that you’ll be able to spot at various points in the city thanks to its tall and imposing bell towers.

Tour Magne

Part of the ancient Roman city wall, Tour Magne used to sit at a whopping 32 meters tall, but today it is 18 meters. At the summit of the Tour Magne, visitors are treated with incredible views out over the city, including the Porte d’Auguste and the Maison Carrée.

Tour Magne in Nimes | © Joshua Morley / Flickr

Temple de Diane

When in the Jardins de la Fontaine, make sure you don’t miss the Temple de Diane. The purpose of the building is not known, however, but how it has remained intact and in good shape for thousands of years is amazing.

The ancient Temple de Diane | © Ωméga * / Flickr

Old Town

With so much to see in Nimes, make sure you give enough time to South of France city living in the old town. The city boasts pretty square after pretty square, with enough cafes, independent shops and delicateness to keep you trying a new one on the hour, every hour.

Nimes center in the South of France | © Shadowgate / Flickr

Esplanade Charles-de-Gaulle

Dating back to the 16th century, this vast esplanade has represented one of the central areas of Nimes for centuries. At its center is an impressive fountain representing the city of Nimes, which was added in 1851. The esplanade was given a face lift around 2013, incorporating some modern bamboo structures and pedestrianisation down to the train station.

Fontaine Pradier on Nimes’ Esplanade Charles-de-Gaulle | © Joshua Morley / Flickr

Place de l’Horloge

One of the city’s bigger squares, perfect for a southern aperitif.

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Porte Auguste

The Via Domitia route – the first Roman road linking Italy to Spain – passed under Porte Auguste. Notice the two larger middle arches – these were for the cars of the day, the carts on the route, and the two smaller ones on each side would have been for those travelling on foot.

Porte Auguste in Nimes | © Allie_Caulfield / Flickr

Pont du Gard

A UNESCO World Heritage Site, the Pont du Gard is an incredible Roman monument, constructed for the Nîmes aqueduct to cross the Gard river. Today it is still considered a masterpiece in design and engineering.

The UNESCO-listed Pont du Gard | © Ridoe / Pixabay

Bois des Espeisses

A large park on the edge of the city that is perfect for summer trips to Nimes. Locals enjoy exercising and ambling here, under the pine trees and away from the harsh sun.

Musée du Vieux Nîmes

A delightful museum where you can learn all about the stories of this extremely historic city. The building itself, which includes a pretty internal courtyard, is worth the visit in itself.

Musée du vieux Nîmes | © Finoskov / WikiCommons

Place aux Herbes

A lovely southern city square that is steeped in history, most notably during the French Wars of Religion when many Catholic priests and monks were massacred.

Carré d’Art

Nimes’ Normand Foster building, opened in 1993, is a twinkling glass and steel structure that houses the library and contemporary art spaces. Due to its design, this building isn’t massively imposing as the lower floors have been built under surface level. Carré d’Art lies opposite from the Maison Carrée, a real juxtaposition of the old and new.

The impressive Carré d’Art in Nimes | © jean-louis Zimmermann / Flickr

Musée Perrier et La Source

Interested in visiting the source of Perrier water? Well you can! Not too far from Nimes is the Perrier museum and water source. A guided tour will let you into (most of) their secrets and walk you through the history of this famous brand.

Visit the natural source of Perrier just outside of Nimes | © Maurizio Pesce / Flickr

Nîmes Cathedral

A Romanesque and Gothic-style cathedral that is thought to stand on the former temple of Augustus. Make sure to check when it’s open. In the high season, you might be lucky enough to attend a concert here.

Roman Catholic Nîmes Cathedral in Nimes | © Tony Bowden / Flickr

Musée des Beaux-Arts

A large fine arts museum showcasing the best of French, Italian and Dutch painting from the 1500s to the 1800s. It’s only €5 to enter and being a large enough space, it’s always a tranquil visit.

Musée des Beaux-Arts in Nimes | © Verodemortillet / WikiCommons

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