Nîmes has a rich history that starts with a Gaulish tribe that helped the Roman emperors conquer territory. As a reward, they was given Nemascus (modern day Nîmes) and modeled it after the Romans. This can be seen by their imitation of the Colosseum, the Arenès de Nîmes, and the gladiator fights they held inside.
You can buy a Nîmes Pass for 12 euros that gives you 3 day access to the Maison Carrée, the Tour Magne and the Arenès de Nîmes . Here‘s more info on where to buy it and other rates for children etc.
Here’s a (super high-tech 😉 ) map of Nîmes to provide some context of where these things are. The numbers will be in red next to the text and are in relation to the red numbers on the map. You’ll obviously need to use google maps or a paper map for more detail, but this helps give you an vague idea of how much walking you’ll be doing.
I’d recommend starting at the Maison Carrée (1) because they have a very informative and well-produced film that explains the origins of Nîmes. The Maison Carrée is one of the best preserved Roman temples in the former Roman territory so it’s quite impressive.
Next, I’d go to the Museum of Contemporary Art (2) (Carré d’Art- Musée d’Art Contemporain) because it’s right next to the Maison Carrée. It has a permanent exhibit on the second floor that is free to visit. There are also temporary exhibits on the third floor where admission is only 5 euros (but free for people under 26). The temporary exhibits are also free on the first Sunday of every month. Here is more information on the hours and rates.
From here, the Arenès de Nîmes (4) is only a 10 minute walk away and goes through a beautiful downtown area. There’s a delicious Indian Restaurant, named Le Marco Polo (3), we’d recommend on the way there. Arenès de Nîmes usually has a line, but if you bought the Nîmes Pass, you don’t need to wait in line- (we did because we didn’t know haha). While you’re in there, you can get a free audio guide (included in the Nîmes Pass) or you can use an app on your phone (Amphitheatre of Nîmes app-apple or android). This helps bring the Arena to life and makes it a much more interesting experience.
Indian Restaurant-Le Marco Polo
Arenès de Nîmes
The Museum of Fine Arts (5) (Musée des Beaux-Arts de Nîmes) is only a few blocks from the Arena and is definitely worth visiting. The permanent exhibit is free. The temporary exhibits are only 3 euros (but free for people under 25). They’re open every day of the week, except Mondays- which is pretty typical for France. Here is more information about their hours and exhibits.
Before you head to Tour Magne-walk to the Esplanade Charles-de-Gaule (6). It’s a beautiful park/plaza next to the Church Saint Perpétue.
Although it is further away from the center of town, the Tour Magne (7) is also worth visiting. It is included in the Nîmes Pass and offers a great view of Nîmes. There is a beautiful park below the tower and Les Jardins de la Fontaine (8) (next to the Temple of Diane) below the park. The Gardens are the first public European garden.
Tour Magne and view from the top
Jardins de la Fontaine-Photo from http://www.nimes.fr
We really enjoyed visiting Nîmes and would recommend it if you’re in the area. If you have any other tips for things to see and do in Nîmes please comment below! 🙂
Add us on Snapchat!