Renowned for its beautifully preserved Roman monuments, Nîmes is a historically-rich city in the Occitanie region of southern France. It’s often referred to as the French Rome, home to a temple-dotted garden and a stunning coliseum that rivals the Italian capital.
Things to do in Nimes
A highlight of Nîmes is the Arena of Nîmes, which is one of the best-preserved Roman-built amphitheatres in the world. It was designed to host around 24,000 spectators during gladiator combats and animal fights and can seat 10,000 people during live music concerts and bullfighting events as part of the annual Feria de Nîmes.
Also of architectural significance is the Maison Carrée, an ancient Roman temple that’s considered a classic example of Vitruvian architecture. Gaze up at its majestic portico, then step through the monumental doorway that leads to the temple’s unadorned chamber where a film about Nîmes’ Roman past is screened. The Maison Maison Carrée stands opposite the striking Carré d’Art, a contemporary art gallery designed by Sir Norman Foster.
Established in the 18th century around the water source where Nîmes was originally founded is the beautiful Jardins de la Fontaine, a leafy park that’s filled with Roman ruins, sweeping staircases and marble urns. Hidden on the western edge of the gardens are the remains of the 1st-century Temple de Diane while a cypress-lined laneway leads to the Magne Tower atop the Rocher de la Fontaine rock.
Getting around Nimes
Nîmes Alès Camargue Cévennes Airport is a 20-minute drive from the city centre and has flights to destinations across Europe and North Africa. Nîmes is connected by regular trains to Marseille, Lyon and Paris while buses travel throughout the city. The centre of Nîmes is easy to explore on foot.