Nîmes

Nimes

Between the Mediterranean and the Cevennes, on the edge of Provence, the Camargue and the Languedoc, the southern city of Nîmes enjoys a particularly pleasant setting. Scattered with Roman remains, some of which are among the best preserved in the world, it exudes the festive energy of a Spanish town. Life in Nîmes is punctuated by its annual férias, which bathe the whole city in a sort of joyful madness for their duration.

In Nîmes you'll discover that all roads lead to the Roman Amphitheatre (well, nearly all of them). The well-preserved Arena of Nîmes is a contemporary to the Colosseum in Rome. Built by the Romans in the 1st century AD, it is supported by 60 stone arches. In its heyday it could accommodate over 20,000 people. Today, gladiatorial combat has been replaced by concerts, bullfights and Camargue horse races, notably during the long-awaited Harvest Féria and the Pentecost Féria. At the other end of the boulevard, the ancient temple of the Maison Carrée (square house) still dominates the forum. The multimedia show you can see here will transport you back to Roman times and you'll see the Gladiators battling it out. Not far from here, you'll find the Carre d'Art - Contemporary Art Museum, an important institution in Nîmes. Designed by Norman Foster it functions much like the Pompidou Centre in Paris, in that it is a complete cultural centre dedicated to the arts. The museum and the three documentation centres are spread over 9 stories and 13,000 m², with restaurants on the roof. The use of glass contributes to the diffusion of light for best possible viewing purposes.
While in Nîmes you should try the creamy cod and potato dish which is a local speciality: brandade de morue.

The Fountain Gardens which were dedicated to the emperor Augustus were discovered in 1738. The fountain's basin, the nymphs, porticos and the temple of Diana are all well preserved in this French style garden where many have strolled, including Jean-Jacques Rousseau and George Sand. The garden leads to the Mont Cavalier, where you'll find the 30 metre (98 foot) high Roman Tour Magne. Formerly it was used to indicate the city and Agusteum at the foot of the hill. It was the tallest and most prestigious building in the area in Roman times. If you climb the 140 steps you'll be rewarded with a breathtaking view. Take advantage of your stay in Nîmes to visit the ruins of Arles and the Pont du Gard. This magnificent, three-tiered Roman aqueduct is a Unesco-listed site which supplied Nîmes with water.

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