In the Gare department is the beautiful city of Nimes, one of the most visited in France. We are in a place where the influence of the Roman Empire on the territory beyond the Alps is most understandable, in one of the privileged points, not coincidentally defined as French Rome. The fame of Nimes was at the highest level in the Roman era, as evidenced by the various monuments that we can visit today. Les Arnes, a nearly 2,000-year-old Roman amphitheater, is a favorite, a large arena with more than 20,000 seats. Don’t miss a visit to the Maison Carre in the historic center, a large Roman temple, one of the most complete in existence today, and directly opposite the Carr D’art, a building designed by Sir Norman Foster, which today houses the Roman Museum.
One of the green corners of the city is located in Jardins de la Fontaine, 15 hectares of Roman ruins and temples, including the Temple of Diana. If you want to continue exploring Roman history, take a bus and get to Pont du Gard, about twenty kilometers from the city, where you can admire the ancient Roman aqueduct, which, crossing the Gardon River, delivered water to it. It is also an ideal place if you are in summer, a great idea for a relaxing day on the river beaches against the backdrop of this Roman wonder. If time permits, find a day to visit nearby Jules, a magnificent medieval village that is worth a visit.
Are you ready to find out what to see in Nimes and its surroundings?
Founded in the 6th century BC by a Celtic tribe, it was under the rule of the Romans that Neem reached its peak of fame and wealth in the 2nd century AD. Its position was on Via Domitia, the route that connected Rome with Spain, a strategic route for the military and commercial interests of its founders. Its location made it one of the most important cities in Gaul, in direct competition with Narbonne and Lyon. It was Emperor Octavian Augustus who chose it as the capital of Narbonian Gaul, endowing it with a 6-kilometer wall to protect the typical buildings present, typical of a Roman city of paramount importance.
The fall of the Empire coincided with the loss of the importance of Nimes, and it was the Roman buildings that protected its inhabitants. At the end of the Middle Ages, a new important event took place thanks to the textile industry. The Nimes canvas was created, a fabric that later became used for Denim jeans. We are in a period when residential but also public buildings began to join the Roman buildings, and when the Roman walls were demolished, giving It a look that we can admire today.
The advent of the railroad in the nineteenth century gave an important new impetus to trade, which led to the export of cotton fabric, which was then bought by Levi-Strauss, which led to the jeans that we all know today. Today, tourism is the main economic voice of the city, which is visited by tens of thousands of people every year.
What to see in Nimes
Nimes is by far the most Roman city beyond national borders. It will be enough to walk through the streets of the historical center or its surroundings to make sure that the ancient Roman Empire was a fundamental presence here. Not only is Nim extraordinarily beautiful, but it is also worth a visit thanks to its wonderful parks, as well as an extensive network of canals, and the vitality of the city. If you want to visit it quietly, as well as devote time to its interesting surroundings, five days are ideal days for planning.
Don’t miss the delicious local cuisine, especially the popular gastronomy, which finds in a small pate one of the absolute delicacies. This is a pate that is made from veal and pork, but which is often replaced with cod, another specialty of the city of Neem.
Let’s now enter the historic center of Nimes, full of narrow streets that seem to have stopped in the medieval period to discover the heart of the city. There is a fountain here, which is a symbol of the city, a crocodile tied to the palm, a memory of the victory of the Roman legionaries on the Nile, also present on the coat of arms of the city.
Also in the city center is one of the few churches of Nimes, the Cathedral of Notre Dame, dating from the 17th century and rebuilt several times. We are located on the Coat of Arms Square, a real central point of the city and a place where students of the nearby Academy of Fine Arts meet in one of the many places with outdoor tables that welcome locals. It is worth a walk around the old town, where there are many shops, often also craft workshops.
What else to see in Nima
We conclude our walk by reaching the nearby Jardins de la Fontaine garden. Here, around the fountain, one of the oldest in the city, we find the remains of some of the most important monuments, such as the Temple of Diana, built for Emperor Augustus and featuring beautiful gardens. The original structure was destroyed by a devastating fire in 1570, which made most of the attractions what they are today. The only evidence of what the structure was in the drawings of Palladio, a Venetian Renaissance architect who visited the gardens shortly before its destruction.
Finally, end your visit to Nimes with a visit to Pont du Gard, located a few kilometers from the city and listed as a UNESCO World Heritage Site, which is one of the reasons that further explain the nickname of French Rome. We are faced with an architectural work that cannot be missed, a Roman bridge with a height of 49 meters and a length of 275 meters. Despite more than 2000 years of history, the Pont du Gard is well preserved and belonged to the structure of the Roman aqueduct, through which water from the Fontaine d’Or in the South was enrolled in Him, at that time known as Nemausensis.