It’s a literal face-off between contemporary architecture and classical antiquity. The unique glass façade of the new Musée de la Romanité, directly facing the ancient stone arches of the Nîmes Arena, creates a fascinating dialogue between the very old and the very new. Opening June 2, 2018, it’s a site to behold.
Musée de la Romanité - 16 Boulevard des Arènes
No trip to Nîmes is complete without a visit to the Arena. One of the best-preserved Roman amphitheatres in Europe, it dates from around 70 AD and originally hosted gladiator fights. Check local guides for big-name bands playing concerts there throughout the summer.
Arènes de Nîmes - Boulevard des Arènes
In the historic old town, La Maison Carrée, is one of the best-preserved Roman temples in the world. A beautiful example of Vitruvian architecture, it was built around 16 BC. Inside, you’ll discover a riveting film on the history of the Roman settlement of Nîmes.
La Maison Carrée - Place de la Maison Carrée
Another example of Old Vs New in Nîmes. In the same square as the ancient Maison Carrée, is the Carré d’Art: a striking piece of modern architecture. Inside you’ll discover a vast collection of contemporary art, as well as the city’s library.
Le Carré d'Art - Place de la Maison Carrée
Take a seat outside one of the restaurants in this pretty square teeming with café terraces in the heart of old Nîmes, and drink in the historic setting and modern artworks including a bronze crocodile by Martial Raysse and Phillipe Starck’s ‘Bronze stud of Nîmes’.
Take at least an afternoon to explore the idyllic Jardins de la Fontaine. With neoclassical water features, statues and Roman artifacts, it’s a sublime walk through the ages. Climb the winding paths to the imposing Tour Magne, the only remaining vestige of ancient Augustan fortifications, for an unparalleled panoramic view of Nîmes. Near the foot of the gardens is the Temple of Diana, with its incredible vaulted ceilings, passages and stories.
Behind the railing on Rue de la Lampeze is something that only exists here and in Pompeii. This was the terminal of the Aqueduct of Nemausus. Water once travelled a mind-boggling 50 kilometres to this location. The supplied water to public fountains and amenities… and the homes that could afford the privilege.
Built in the first century AD, the Pont du Gard is yet another of the Roman monuments that make Nîmes so iconic. The highest standing Roman aqueduct in the world, it is also one of the best-preserved, and has inspired great minds for centuries such as Jean-Jacques Rousseau and Henry James.