5 ways to explore French Rome in Nîmes

Nîmes Arenas ©Istock

Arenas, temples and tantalising Mediterranean aromas, take a stroll down the Cevennes and the Camargue parks to Nîmes and step back into roman times and traditions.
Nowadays, Nimes is a charming town with almost 200 days of sun a year, but two millennia ago it was an important city of Roman Gaul.
While a new and unmissable “Musée de la Romanité” is opening in June, why not treat yourself to a stay in the South of France during the holiday season and enjoy a city break 100% “Made in French Rome”?

An ancient Rome getaway in the south of France

1- Le Musée de la Romanité

Le Musée de la Romanité ©Ville de Nîmes

Opening date: 2nd June 2018
More than offering an outstanding view on the Nimes arenas, this new museum displays an exceptional setting to the town’s remarkable archaeological collection with more than 25,000 pieces. Le Musée de la Romanité is also one of the most innovative contemporary architectural projects in France. Its light structure and undulating glass façade symbolise a mosaic, a powerful pattern of the Roman period. This museum is part of the city application for UNESCO World Heritage in 2018 under the theme “Antiquity to the Present”.

2 – The Roman Amphitheatre

Nîmes Arenas ©Ville de Nîmes

In the Gallo-Roman ages, Nîmes was the religious sanctuary for Narbonne province where the Emperor Augustus and his successors built monumental buildings and temples. Some of them as the twin-tiered amphitheatre have withstood the passage of time.
Best preserved amphitheatre in France, the Nimes Arenas and its 23,000 seats, host various events all year long:

  • Each summer, the Nimes Festival takes over this exceptional site with an eclectic program of high ranking music groups and singers. For further information (french only)
  • Following our time travel in the antique roman period, “the Great Roman Games”, that take place each year in April in the arena, are the best way to immerse yourself in the gladiators times. For further information

    The Great Roman Games ©culturespaces

3- La Maison Carrée – a fully preserved roman temple

La Maison Carrée ©OT Nîmes

This roman temple, one of the best preserved in the world, was a present for two of the adopted sons of the Emperor Augustus. It is located in the heart of the forum, the antique public and economic gathering place. Therefore, it’s nowadays the perfect starting point to explore the narrow historics streets of city and enter in one of its many designer boutiques.

4- Take a walk around “Les Jardins de la Fontaine”

Jardins de la Fontaine ©Istock

Climb on the top of the Tour Magne, another Augustan monument, and admire the view over the rooftops of the city, then explore the France’s first civic gardens the 18th Les Jardins de la Fontaine and its enigmatic Diana Temple.

5- The Pont du Gard, a roman aqueduct

The Pont du Gard © OT Nîmes

Fasten seatbelts everybody!
Just outside the town, 17 miles away, stands the 1th century roman construction, an unmissable stop for our French Rome journey. The Pont du Gard is the highest aqueduct bridge in the world, and the only antic one with three levels. Moreover, this UNESCO World Heritage Site is nestled among an enchanting setting:  the charming landscapes, vineyards, and authentic villages of the Gard.
For further information

To take things a little bit further…

A local’s tip to explore French Rome in Nimes: The Roman Pass

The Roman Pass  is available throughout the year except during the Feria periods.
The pass includes a short stay based on 2 days/1 night or 3 days/2 nights with tickets to access the monuments and museums in Nîmes, a pass to enter the Pont du Gard and the museum spaces there, an audio-guide for visiting the city. As an optional extra, you can choose to go to dinner at a restaurant in Nîmes serving local cuisine.

Not to be missed: Ferias de Nîmes 16-21 May 2018

Parade, equestrian events, flamenco dancing and musical performances, holy masses, provencal joust on the canals, art displays … This 6-day  festival is one of the most important in Europe and took place in Nîmes for each feast of Pentecost since 1952. More than a modern version of the “Bread and circuses” Roman motto, the Ferias de Nimes is the best way to enjoy the authentic and festive provencal way of life and traditions.
For further information (french only)

What to eat:

Costières de Nîmes ©VisitFrenchWine
  • Don’t miss out this opportunity to do some local food and wine shopping in « Les Halles » and savour the local specialities like “Les petits pâtés Nîmois”, Pitcholine olives or Brandade
  • Enjoy a glass of Costières de Nîmes red, white or rosé in one of the town’s bistro or take a stroll to the Chateau de la Tuilerie (french only) and its vineyards, between Nimes and the Cevennes Hills.
  • Le Lisita (french only): Combine the gourmet gastronomy of this Michel-starred restaurant, with its impressive view on the arena.
  • Alexandre Restaurant: The two-star Michel Kayser welcomes you in this olive trees park with his exceptional and sophisticated cuisine.

Where to stay:

Les Jardins Secrets: This five-star hotel features 14 luxury rooms in an 18th century coach house and offers top-level amenities, including a luxury cloistered garden and a spa. The decor focuses on Napoleon III style, with a blend of paintings and antiques.

How to get there?

Nîmes ©Istock
  • By Air:

Travel to Nîmes, with Ryanair from London Luton and London Stansted.
Or to Montpellier (located 35 miles away from Nimes) with Easyjet from London Luton and London Gatwick,  British Airlines from London Heathrow or with Aer Lingus from Dublin.

  • By Train:

Travel to Nimes (french only) from Paris, Lyon, Marseille or Montpellier stations

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