Nîmes is a city with a population of around 137,000 in the département of Gard in the south of France. It has a stunning Roman temple whose pristine condition is unmatched by any extant ones in Rome. There are a few other fine Roman relics and Diana's Palace.
- 1 Office de Tourisme et des Congrès, 6 rue Auguste, ☎ . Jul Aug: M-F 09:00-19:30, Sa 09:00-19:00, Su and public holidays 10:00-18:00; Apr-Sep: M-Sa 09:00-19:00, Su and holidays: 10:00-18:00; Oct-Mar: M-F 09:00-18:30, Sa 10:00-18:00, Su and holidays 10:00-17:00. The Office de Tourisme prints a "Bienvenue" booklet (in English) each year, which isn't available off the shelf, you must ask for it. It has lists of Hotels, Camp Sites, Restaurants and bars. They also print a Travel Guide with descriptions of the sights to see in Nimes. There is also an information point at the Esplanade Charles-de-Gaulle.
- 1 Gare de Nîmes (train station), 1, Boulevard Sergent Triaire. A short walk away from Les Arènes, TER (regional train) services by SNCF run from here to Avignon, Arles and Montpellier, and TGV services to Montpellier, Paris, Valence, Lyon, Lille and Spain
- 2 Gare Routière (bus station), Rue Sainte Felicite,.
- 3 Nîmes–Alès–Camargue–Cévennes Airport (FNI IATA). The airport is around 20 km from the city centre. Ryanair operates regular flights to Nîmes from London (Luton) and Liverpool in England, and Brussels (Charleroi) in Belgium. Ryanair also operates flights to Fez and, starting October 2017, Marrakech. A shuttle bus runs between the airport and Nîmes city centre (€6.80 per person for a one-way ticket).
You can access Nîmes via Autoroute A9, which runs from the Spanish border, and the Spainsh motorway AP-7, in the south, and Orange and the A7 Autoroute in the north, or the A54, which connects Nîmes to Salon-de-Provence in the south-east.
The main sights are all within comfortable walking distance of each other.
The three main Roman sites in Nîmes are the Maison Carrée, Magne Tower and the famous Amphitheatre. A combined ticket can be purchased for all three for €12 (€10 for children (7-17) or students), only €2 more than the single entry for the Amphitheatre. There is also a combined ticket which includes the Roman Theatre of nearby Orange. Other key sites include the Temple of Diane and the Nîmes Cathedral, both of which are free.
- 1 Castellum. A former reservoir at the end of the 50 km aqueduct.
- 2 Cathédrale Notre-Dame-et-Saint-Castor de Nîmes (Nîmes Cathedral). The main cathedral of the city originates from the 11th century, but has been renovated and adapted many times since. It is believed it was built on top of the former Roman Temple of Augustus of which no trace remains. The building is an interesting mix of Romanesque and neo-Gothic styles.
- 3 Jardin de la Fontaine (Fountain Gardens). March/September: 07:30-20:00, October-February: 07:30-18:30, April-August: 07:30-22:00. These beautiful gardens were created in 1745, becoming the first public park in France and one of the first in Europe. It is decorated with a number of waterways and fountains, beautiful statues from Montpellier and the ruins of the Roman Temple of Diane. Climbing the steps or ramps at the back of the park up to the highest point in Nîmes, one finds the Magne Tower. Free.
- 4 Les Arènes (Roman Amphitheatre), Place des Arènes, ☎ . 09:00-12:30 and 14:00-18:00. a well preserved Roman arena that hosts bull fighting festivals in September. It was built 100 AD to seat 24,000 spectators It seats 10,000 when full and is an amazing site.
- 5 Maison Carrée (Square House), ☎ . One of the best preserved Roman temples in the former Roman Empire is to be found here in Nîmes. It was constructed approximately 2 CE, not long after the founding of the city by Emperor Augustus. The small interior comprises of a modern theatre, where a well-produced and informative film called Nemausus plays every half an hour on the half hour, giving a good introduction to the early history and foundations of the city. Adult €6, child (7-17)/student €5.
- 6 Porte d'Auguste (Auguste Gate). Once was the main entrance to the city
- Porte de France.
- Temple de Diane (Temple of Diane).
- 7 Tour Magne (Magne Tower) (N end of Jardin de la Fontaine).
- 8 Musée du vieux Nîmes, ☎ .
- 9 Musée archéologique, Blvd 13 Amiral Courbet, ☎ . Columns, mosaics, sculptures, etc.
- 10 Musée des Beaux-arts, rue de la cité Foulc 20-22, ☎ . Flemish, Italian, French works, and Roman mosaics.
The local speciality is the "brandade", chopped cod mixed with mashed potatoes, milk, garlic and olive oil. It can be tasted in many restaurants. You can also try the "Gardiane de taureau", a ragout with bull meat and vegetables. As an appetizer, have toasted bread with "Tapenade", an olive puree made with olives, olive oil and garlic.
- 1 L'Ancien Théâtre, 4 Rue Racine, ☎ . A very nice gastronomic restaurant, that serves fine, local, fresh food for a very affordable price. A menu will cost up to €32, including starter, main course, cheese and dessert.
Late night bars along Ave Victor Hugo. Lulu is a popular gay bar at 10 Rue Curaterie, open Tu-Sa from 23:00.
A beautiful and expensive hotel is The Imperator.
- FUAJ youth hostel. Has very friendly and informative local staff.
All located in the retail park Parc Hotelier Ville Active, about 30 minutes' walk from the town centre (and over the main road from Carrefour hypermarket):
- 1 Le Pont du Gard. If you haven't had your fill of Roman constructions, this impressive aqueduct is 25 km up the A9 from Nimes and clearly signposted from the motorway. In Roman times the aqueduct carried water destined for Nimes.