Attractions in Nîmes

10 High-Quality Tourist Attractions in Nîmes

Blessed by the warm southern sun and an ancient cultural heritage, Nîmes seems unperturbed by the passage of time. Roman monuments are scattered throughout the city, and some are the best preserved in France. The historic center has an atmospheric Old World charm. Like Aix-en-Provence, there are many tree-lined streets and fountain-adorned public squares with tables that flow into the cobbled pedestrian areas from busy outdoor cafes.

Nîmes is nestled in the foothills of the Languedoc region between Avignon and Montpellier, close to the border with Spain. Due to its proximity, Nîmes has a cultural heritage with Provence and has been influenced by Spanish traditions. Festivals are a way of life here. In May, the Festival de Nîmes brings popular music concerts to the old Arena. In summer the city comes alive with more outdoor performances in the amphitheater and gardens, and on Thursday evenings market events are accompanied by jazz, blues and flamenco music.

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1 Arènes: The Ancient Roman Amphitheater

Arènes: The Ancient Roman Amphitheater

A testimony to Nîmes’ remarkable ancient Roman heritage, the Arènes (Amphitheater) dates back to the 1st century AD. In the center of the city, this impressive open-air theater measuring 133 meters by 101 meters was the most important monument in Roman times. With seating for 21,000 spectators, the Nîmes amphitheater is not the largest, but it is one of the best preserved of all existing Roman amphitheaters. The 60 graceful arches of the exterior are decorated in the lower part with pilasters and in the upper part with decorative Doric half-columns. Brackets for the wooden masts of the awning can be seen on the top. The amphitheater was perfectly designed to handle the crowds; there are 124 exits that allow the entire audience to exit in just a few minutes.

The amphitheater was transformed into a fortress in the 5th century and into a knight’s castle in the Middle Ages. However, recently the monument has been restored to its original purpose. The Amphitheater is now used as a venue for cultural events and festivals. In May, the Arènes plays host toLes Grands Jeux Romains, 2,000-year-old circus games reenacted with historical accuracy and authentic Roman costumes. During the summer, theFestival de Nîmes presents a series of world-class concerts and other cultural events at the Amphitheater.

Address: Boulevard des Arènes, Nîmes

Official site:

Accommodation: Where to Stay in Nimes

2 Square House

Square House
Square House

This beautiful building is one of the best preserved ancient monuments in France and the only fully preserved classical Roman temple left in the world. The Maison Carrée was built between 20 and 12 BC. And was an important temple in the Forum (the economic and administrative heart of the Roman city). The temple was dedicated to Caius and Lucius Caesar, the adopted son and grandson of Emperor Augustus. Inspired by the temples of Apollo and Mars Ultor in Rome, Maison Carrée has harmonious classical proportions. Standing on a podium with impressive dimensions of 26 meters long and 17 meters high, the grandeur of the temple leaves tourists in awe.

The facade of tall Corinthian columns is beautifully decorated with acanthus and there are 15 steps to the portico “pronaos” (entrance to the temple). The interior now serves as a museum. During the Middle Ages, the temple was used as a monastery before becoming state property during the French Revolution. The monument was restored in the 18th century and more recently underwent an extensive renovation from 2006 to 2008. After more than four years of restoration by sculptors and stonemasons, the Maison Carrée has returned to its former glory.

Address: Place de la Maison Carrée, Nîmes

Official site:

3 Jardins de la Fontaine (Gardens of the Source)

Jardins de la Fontaine (Gardens of the Source)
Jardins de la Fontaine (Gardens of the Source)

These beautiful and tranquil gardens are on the site of an ancient spring to the west of the Maison Carrée. Decorated with monumental vases and statues in Baroque style, the gardens were part of a project to beautify Nîmes in the 18th century. The richly decorated gardens were laid out around the former fortified ramparts. The gardens extend over several levels. Exploring the water basins and waterways, visitors will eventually stumble upon the romantic ruins of the ancient Temple de Diane. This enigmatic temple may have been the sanctuary of a sacred spring or part of an ancient bath complex – its precise function is unknown. Behind the Jardins de la Fontaine lies Mont Cavalier, a lush area with subtropical plants and shady walkways. At the top is the 30-meter-high Tour Magne, a Roman monument dating from 15 BC. The tower represents the main part of the defensive wall that surrounded the city during the Roman era.

Address: Quai de la Fontaine, Nîmes

4 Archaeological Museum (Museum van Archeologie)

Musée Archéologique (Museum of Archaeology) Tyler Bell / photo modified
Musée Archéologique (Museum of Archaeology) Tyler Bell / photo modified

The perfect addition to Nîmes’ archaeological sights, this museum gives visitors a fascinating insight into the city’s ancient past. This exceptional archaeological museum is housed in a historic 17th-century building (the former Jesuit College) and has one of the largest and most in-depth collections in France. The collection of prehistoric objects focuses on Iron Age pieces, while the collection of classical antiquities Gallo- Includes Roman objects such as ceramics, bronze tableware, lamps, toiletries and clothing accessories. The Roman coins are among the highlights of the museum. Other archaeological finds from the Roman era, such as mosaics and inscriptions, let visitors imagine ancient life. The museum also has an excellent collection of classical Greek pottery and an assortment of sculpture from ancient to the medieval period.

Address: 13 Boulevard Amiral Courbet, Nîmes

5 Musée des Beaux-Arts (Museum of Fine Arts)

This famous museum of fine arts occupies a neoclassical building dating from 1907. Two beautiful statues of Henri Bouchard welcome visitors through the front doors. The Nîmes Museum of Fine Arts is the second largest collection of its kind in Languedoc. The museum has a collection of 3,600 works by French, Flemish, Dutch, German, Italian and Spanish painters. The emphasis of the collection is on paintings from the 16th century to the 17th century by Italian masters and beautiful French paintings from the 19th century. The atrium on the ground floor features a large, ancient Roman mosaic The Wedding of Admetus, which is a highlight of the museum. This beautiful piece was discovered in the 19th century on the site of a marketplace. Take time to admire the artistic design and charming details of the mosaic.

Address: Rue Cité Foulc, Nîmes

6 Festivals and events

TheFéria de Pentecôte (Festival of Pentecost) is the first major annual event of the year in Nîmes and one of the largest festivals in France. The six-day festival includes brass bands, Spanish flamenco dancing and religious ceremonies. Also in MayLes Grands Jeux Romains recreates ancient Roman circus games in the Arènes. In June, the Festival La Nuit des Jardins presents dance, music concerts and other cultural performances in the garden’s open-air theater. In July there is an open-air film festival in the gardens, La Nuit des Jardins, catering for a French-speaking audience. Every Thursday evening in July and August, a special event called Les Jeudis de Nîmes takes place. The city comes alive with open-air markets selling crafts and antique shops, while the crowds are entertained by jazz, blues or flamenco music. The annualFestival de Nîmes is a series of performances held in the ancient Roman amphitheater in July, including music concerts, theater and dance performances. The traveling Chicago Blues Festival appears in Nîmes in November.

7 Museum of Old Nîmes (Museum van het oude Nîmes)

This museum is located on the Place aux Herbes, a charming public space with many terrace cafes that flow into the square. Housed in a 17th-century building (the former Episcopal Palace), the museum illustrates the history of Nîmes from the Middle Ages to the 19th century. Everyday objects, arts, crafts and furniture help to illustrate local culture and traditions. The museum has a particularly interesting textile collection, as Nîmes was an important textile manufacturer in the 18th century. Nîmes scarves were once the rage across Europe. Visitors will also be surprised to discover that denim was invented in Nîmes. There is a “Blue Room” dedicated to the most famous canvas of Nîmes.

Address: Place aux Herbes, Nîmes

8 Musée des Cultures Tauru (Bullfighting Museum)

Opened in May 2002, this museum celebrates the bullfighting tradition that is part of Nîmes’ heritage. The museum is a stone’s throw from the ancient Roman amphitheater, where bullfighting for the Feria de Nîmes has been organized since the mid-20th century. This is the only museum in France dedicated to the subject of bullfighting. The collection includes bullfighting costumes, works of art depicting bullfights and information related to bullfighting. Visitors learn about bullfighting customs that originated in Spain and were brought to the nearby Camargue region south of Arles.

Address: 6 Rue Alexandre Ducros, Nîmes

9 Augustus Gate

Named after Emperor Augustus, who built the original city walls, the Porte d’Auguste stands at the north end of Boulevard Amiral Courbet. This city gate dates from the 16th or 15th century BC and was the starting point of the road to Rome. In the 14th century, the Porte d’Auguste was incorporated into the walls of a medieval fortress and was not uncovered again until 1752, when the fortress was damaged. The side wings of the gate were destroyed during the French Revolution. Now a bronze statue of Augustus (a modern copy) has been placed at the gate.

Address: 25 Boulevard Amiral Courbet, Nîmes

10 Carré d’Art – Musée d’Art Contemporain (Museum of Modern Art)

Carré d'Art - Musée d'Art Contemporain (Museum of Modern Art) Wolfgang Staudt / photo modified
Carré d’Art – Musée d’Art Contemporain (Museum of Modern Art) Wolfgang Staudt / photo modified

To the west of the Maison Carrée stands a building that stands in stark contrast to the old architecture of Nîmes. The Musée d’Art Contemporain is a sleek modern building designed by architect Norman Foster. The museum’s permanent collection includes approximately 400 works of contemporary art created since the 1960s. The collections are organized geographically, such as sections for French art and Mediterranean art. Renowned temporary exhibitions are held here every year.

Address: 16 Place de la Maison Carrée, Nîmes

Official site:

Where to Stay in Nîmes for Sightseeing

We recommend these delightful hotels and guesthouses in Nîmes with easy access to the top sites:

  • Bien Loin D’Ici Spa B & B: Luxury bed-and-breakfast, quiet area, short drive to town, stylish decor, long-lane swimming pool, private hot tubs and saunas.
  • Hotel de L’Amphitheater: 3-star hotel, family owned, walking street, 17th century building, multilingual staff.
  • Ibis Styles Nimes Gare Centre: prices in the heart of the area, close to the train station, color-themed rooms, comfortable beds.
  • Ibis Budget Nimes Center Gare: budget hotel, modern decor, clean rooms

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