Written by MichaelJM on 05 Jun, 2006
Nimes was the first of the French cities to be taken over by the Romans and they really went to town to stamp their mark on the indigenous population. It was great to see the “terminal” of the Pont du Gard aqueduct and imagine the…Read More
Nimes was the first of the French cities to be taken over by the Romans and they really went to town to stamp their mark on the indigenous population. It was great to see the “terminal” of the Pont du Gard aqueduct and imagine the gentle rush of water. The cynic in me speculated on the panic that may have befallen the town’s population if the water stopped flowing—but I guess the mighty Roman Empire would have legislated for that outside possibility. The Castellum, a Roman water tower on Rue de Lalpeze, was the main storage and distribution source for this precious resourceBut the most outstanding Roman remain in Nimes is the amphitheatre. My son and I paid our admission fee and clambered to the highest point of this impressive space. From the top there were some great views of the City and a real sense of the enormity of this entertainment centre. In its day it would have accommodated just over 21,000 people and the restoration of the Roman equivalent of the “show case cinema” has been delightfully restored. It was originally designed to allow flooding for aquatic events, but no one gave us an explanation as to how the water was released from the arena. Over the years the site has been used as a defence fortress and later as a centre for over 2,000 paupers, but now having being restored to its former glory “entertainment” has returned. There are regular bullfights held in the arena both the traditional style (Nime still has a close relationship with Spain) in which the bull is taunted and then killed, or the more refined Provençal style in which they only taunt the bull and remove rosettes from its torso. The later is a much more comedic affair, but participants do get injured by the agitated, angry bulls.The town has some super little alleyways to explore with many cafés spilling onto the pathway with their tables and parasols. Check out the carved façade of a building opposite the town hall. This was formerly an armourer's shop and the brightly clad statue is known as the Jack o' the clock; the old Fort Vauban, dates back to the wars of religion; Maison Carree is a 1st century B.C. temple and is reputed to be the best preserved temple of its kind in the world. Porte Augustus (on Boulevard Gambetta) is all that remains of the original entrance to the town and it was so designed to give two way traffic access and smaller arched entrance for pedestrians.Nimes is a fairly relaxed town with picturesque parks, numerous water features and some good solid medieval architecture. We saw a number of buildings sporting religious murals, some interesting squares, clock towers and spire churches. All in all this is an interesting town to visit—a reminder of the greatness of the Roman empire and the solid nature of their engineering masterpieces.Close
Written by moatway on 08 Apr, 2004
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…Read More
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.
Written by Esigodini on 06 May, 2004
We got to our great friendly hotel around 11am on Saturday morning. We were let in by Uzes the puppy and then went strolling. We saw the impressive Roman temple and the beautiful city park. The park is around some colonnaded pools built over a…Read More
We got to our great friendly hotel around 11am on Saturday morning. We were let in by Uzes the puppy and then went strolling. We saw the impressive Roman temple and the beautiful city park. The park is around some colonnaded pools built over a fast-flowing river -- very beautiful. There were great trees, great vegetation, and red squirrels.
We ate lunch at the "Croc' d'Or" Wimpey (the crocodile is the symbol of Nimes) and then around the fantastic Roman amphitheatre -- very atmospheric. Then we were off to the local art gallery and a beautiful big Roman mosaic. We went window-shopping, strolling, and shopping (in a fantastic chocolate shop and a toy store). We had beer at a cafe on the square and couldn't get over how friendly everyone was -- a real bonus.
In the evening, we went to a friendly bistro recommended by the hotel proprietor. Tina started with excellent onion soup. My snails were with tomatoes and lots of spices. Then I had onion and potato pie with sausage and cheese. We finished off with a great apple patty and ice cream.
On Sunday morning, we went to the market and ate fantastic fish, vegetables, cheese, fruit, and bakery stalls. We had a coffee and some pastries at the stand in the middle. Excellent. We went back to the hotel to watch rugby with the proprietor (France vs. Ireland in the World Cup), and then caught the airport bus and went home.