The month of February 2016 we escaped a weekend to Nîmes to visit this southern city of France which owns an impressive archaeological ensemble. In this small guide we provide all the basic information to enjoy a magnificent weekend in Nîmes.
How to get to Nîmes
From Barcelona you can access comfortably by high-speed train. There is a train that leaves at 4:45 p.m. and takes 3 hours and forty minutes to arrive. On the way back you can take the train that leaves on Sunday at five in the afternoon. We take advantage of an offer and travel for € 40 round trip. The Nîmes train station is only a fifteen minute walk from the city center.
What to visit in Nîmes
The main attraction for us was to visit the impressive archaeological heritage of the Roman era That the city has. The essentials are:
La Maison Carreé
Although the first impression is that this temple dedicated to the imperial lineage has been rebuilt, it is surprising to discover that it remains virtually the same as it was two millennia ago. A few years ago the temple was subjected to a cleaning that returned the shining white to its stones. Inside we can see a short film that recreates the history of the city. The price is € 6 and is included in the Pass Nîmes.
The Roman amphitheater of Nîmes
Just 500 meters from the Maison Carreé is the Arena de Nîmes, a Roman amphitheater that remains in very good condition. This circus has sixty arches and in its time could accommodate up to 24,000 attendees. Currently, the amphitheater is still used to host bullfights, concerts and sporting events. Admission with audio guide costs € 10 and is also included in the Pass Nîmes.
This is a watchtower in the upper area of the Fountain Gardens. The first tower is from the time of the Celts and later the Romans extended it. Currently you can visit inside, as they reinforced it and built a staircase that leads to a viewpoint. Admission costs € 3.5 and is included in the Pass Nîmes.
Jardins de la Fontaine
In this public park you can still see the spring that gave rise to the city of Nîmes. The current gardens were built in the 18th century and have balustrades and canals that distribute water throughout the park. In addition to the spring, in the Gardens of the fountain are the ruins of the Diana's temple. Although at first it was thought that this building was a temple dedicated to the goddess of hunting, recent studies seem to indicate that it was perhaps a library that housed important papyri. The ruins of Diana's temple can be visited inside.
This spring is the one that gave rise to the city of Nemausa.
Pont du Gard
It is a forty-meter-long Roman aqueduct that crosses the Garde River. It is located twenty kilometers from Nîmes. To go there you can take the bus that leaves the train station. However, as we went during the white week, on Sunday there was no bus service. So, before going to visit it, check the bus schedules at the Nîmes tourist office.
Photo from France.fr
So far we have mentioned the most important buildings, but there are also others that are worth visiting such as the Puerta Augusta, the Puerta de Francia and the Castellum.
For more information on what to visit in Nîmes do not miss the article: A day through the Roman ruins of Nîmes
It is an entrance that encompasses the visit to the Roman circus, the Magna tower and the movie that is passed inside the Maison Carré. It costs € 13 and the ticket is valid for three days.
Guided tours of the city of Nîmes
In our visit to Nîmes we focus a lot on the Roman heritage of the city. However, if you want to know better the whole tourist complex of Nîmes, you can sign up for the guided tours organized by the tourist office on Saturdays. You can find more information in the tourist office.