Located in southern France, a visit to Nimes in the Occitanie region is more like having your very own ancient Roman holiday.
The structures that date back to over a thousand years ago showcase the town’s long history and rich heritage.
Apart from the well-preserved Roman structures, Nimes is home to impressive art museums, majestic churches, and lovely town squares.
There’s plenty of things to do in Nimes that a few days won’t be enough.
Here’s a list of what this town has to offer to help make the most of your visit.
Things you'll find in this article
11 Top Things To Do In Nimes, France
1. Nimes Old Town
Right in the heart of Nimes is the charming old town, always a lovely place to visit in Nimes. This is where you’ll have a first look at Nimes once you arrive.
This area is comprised of pedestrian streets and side alleys, along with grand old buildings and picturesque squares.
Get to know Nimes by walking around and exploring this area. Check out Place du Marché where you’ll see a crocodile fountain, or Place du Chapitre’s cascading pools.
You’ll also find the lovely city clock tower here, called the Tour de l’Horloge.
2. Esplanade Charles-de-Gaulle
A grand old boulevard that leads to a wide square, the Esplanade Charles-de-Gaulle is quite unmissable once you arrive in Nimes.
In fact, it’s probably the first thing that will draw your attention soon as you step into this lovely city.
It could be the lush greens surrounding the park or the fountains, or the stunning Neoclassical structures – this place is just inviting, welcoming.
The Esplanade Charles-de-Gaulle is among the places to visit in Nimes that you shouldn’t miss.
Some of the best attractions in this park are the pretty Église Sainte Perpétue church and a memorial for the end of World War I.
3. Nîmes Arena
One of the best attractions in Nimes is the massive amphitheater that dates back to 70 AD.
The magnificent Nimes Arena looks exactly like the Colosseum in Rome, Italy, and Pula Arena in Croatia. This amphitheater was a symbol of the importance of Nimes back then when it was even called ‘The French Rome’.
For centuries since the fall of the Roman empire, the arena served a variety of purposes. It was home to a palace, then an entire community, then a bullring in the 19th century.
Today, the arena is a popular concert venue. One can just imagine how atmospheric each musical performance must be.
4. The Maison Carrée
A stunning structure and easily one of the best places to see in Nimes is the Maison Carrée.
Another remnant from the Roman times, this is a building surrounded by well-preserved tall columns. Maison Carrée means ‘Square House’, which was built in around 19 B.C.
It is regarded as one of the best examples of a Roman temple in the world.
The Maison Carrée was also the inspiration for Thomas Jefferson’s design for the State Capitol building in Richmond, Virginia.
5. Porte d’Auguste
The Porte d’Auguste is the ancient gate that served as the entrance to the ramparts.
It was named after Emperor Augustus who was responsible for fortifying Nimes. It was originally on the old Roman road that led to Rome or Via Domitia.
The Augustus Gate is now situated at the corner of the Boulevard Gambetta and the Boulevard Amiral Courbet. This gate is said to have been around since the 15th century BC.
Here, visitors should look out for the statue of Augustus, located near the gate.
6. Pont du Gard
Another iconic Nimes attraction is the picturesque Pont du Gard.
It is among the Roman monuments in Nimes that was constructed in the first century AD. The brilliantly preserved Pont du Gard is the highest standing Roman aqueduct in the world.
After the fall of the Roman Empire, it served as a toll bridge, that crosses over the River Gardon.
Make sure to visit, and marvel at the magnificent arches that inspired the likes of Jean-Jacques Rousseau and Henry James.
7. Les Jardins de la Fontaine
One of the best places to visit in Nimes are the idyllic Les Jardins de la Fontaine.
These gardens date back to the 18th century and known for their impressive neoclassical-style fountains as well as sculptures and Roman artifacts.
A significant part of Les Jardins de la Fontaine’s history was when it was used as a military defense point.
A must-do for visitors is to climb up the winding paths that lead to the imposing Tour Magne, the only remnant of ancient Augustan fortifications in the area.
The gardens also offer spectacular views of Nîmes and its surroundings.
8. Temple of Diana
Situated just on the side of Les Jardins de la Fontaine are the ruins of the Temple of Diana.
One of the fascinating places to see in Nimes, there really was no solid explanation as to why it’s called a temple or its connection to Diana, the goddess of the hunt.
The remains also look more like the place was once a library.
Still, it’s quite a scenic area that’s interesting to explore when in Nimes.
9. Quai de la Fontaine
The Quai de la Fontaine is the closest body of water you’ll ever get while in the inland city of Nimes. This canal has quite a scenic route, and a walk along is a great thing to do in Nimes.
Along the way, you’ll see grand old houses, as well as gentle cascades and fountains.
The canal flows from the spring below Les Jardins de la Fontaine. Back in 1740, these canals were extensively expanded to collect more of the spring water.
Today, a walk along Quai de la Fontaine makes for a relaxing activity in between exploring the more popular sights in Nimes.
10. Museum of Fine Arts of Nîmes
You can’t be in Nimes and not visit a museum. The Museum of Fine Arts is a worthwhile thing to do in Nime – where you get to be in a building designed by a renowned local architect, Max Raphel.
It was eventually renovated by Jean-Michel Wilmotte, giving it a more contemporary look.
The museum is home to an impressive collection of European art, and the stunning mosaic “The Wedding of Admetus” which you’ll find in the museum’s atrium.
11. Take a day trip to Saint-Laurent-des-Arbres
Nimes is surrounded by other equally beautiful towns that make for great day trips.
Around 30 minutes away is the charming old town of Saint-Laurent-des-Arbres. This is a lovely place to visit that has the same chill, relaxed vibe as Nimes.
Some of the best things to see here are the 10th Century church, the 12th Century keep and a watchtower. Saint-Laurent-des-Arbres is also a lovely place to explore.
Stroll through narrow cobblestone one streets, explore the maze of alleys and enjoy discovering pretty squares and quirky, colorful buildings.
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Hi, I’m Christine – a full-time traveler and career woman. Although I’m from the Philippines, my location independent career took me to over 40 countries for the past 8 years. I also lived in 3 continents – from the Caribbean, South East Asia to Africa. France remains special to me, however. From architecture, history, and arts – France is truly an amazing place.