How long does a real visit to Nimes take? Probably a half-day minimum and a full day for total saturation. Most of what you want to see can be done on foot. If you are driving in, you will find a number of signs pointing to four major parking garages. We chose Arenes, found it easily and popped up above ground on the huge Place Charles De Gaulle. Immediately visible is the Roman arena, partly hidden by the large, classical Palais de Justice. You are on your way.
Once you have finished with "Les Arenes", walk in the same direction in which you had started (vaguely north) up the Blvd. Victor Hugo or through the old streets to the right of it with their little shops. Easy – parking behind me – things I want to see in front of me. Eventually, after a brief walk, you will arrive on the Rue General Perrier – you should be able to find the Maison Carree here.
The Maison is actually a Roman temple dating back to Augustus, and it’s in great condition. Do go inside – it’s free and the exhibits will show you how this area of Nimes once looked.
Next door to the temple is the white steel and glass structure of the Carree d’Art and the Museum of Contemporary Art. The admission fee was 4.65 euros and it features two floors of exhibits with the second floor of the building being the permanent exhibit. It was one of those places that left me cold – a lot of white space with pieces of art that often left me mumbling, "I could have done that". (I’m such a peasant!) There are a couple of Warhols and a great many other moderns represent. . . see what you think. Upstairs was an exhibit of the work of Francois Vergier who works in ceramics. It was actually quite interesting.
Down the street (to the east), you will pass Les Halles, a large indoor market. A sign nearby will point you to the cathedral. Take the chance – the visit is well worthwhile. Continue to the Blvd. Admiral Courbet. Another church? You may consider passing by, but don’t. It is the Church of Saint-Baudille and again, worth your time.
Now you’re walking back to the parking garage, south along Blvd. Admiral Courbet. There, on your right is the Porte d’Augustus. You may choose to visit the Museum of Archaeology or the Museum of Natural History. . . they are both on this street (we passed). By the time you arrive back at your car, you’ve done a loop that has allowed you to see most of the major sights of Nimes and the time allotted depends only on the number of places you stopped to browse or shop. The tourist information, by the way, is near the Maison Carree.