Nimes, a city in southern France, is an attractive destination for a short break
Nîmes is home to Roman ruins and a world-class collection of contemporary art and architecture.
There’s an easily walkable old town with narrow streets and pretty squares lined with cafes, making this southern French city attractive for a short break.
Where to sleep
Appart’City Nimes Arenes
A five-minute walk from Nimes Center train station, this magnificent 19th-century mansion – formerly the city’s post office – has been a comfortable aparthotel since 2016. Rooms are decorated with modern furniture — some have original features like fireplaces and parquet floors. All rooms have a kitchenette. Double room from £83 (appartcity.com).
Nîmes has an easily walkable old town with narrow streets and pretty squares lined with cafés. Stay at Appart’City Nimes Arenes, a five-minute walk from Nimes Center train station
Appart’City Nimes Arenes is housed in a magnificent 19th-century mansion that was formerly the city’s post office
Aside from being spotlessly clean and having spacious rooms for up to four people, the fourth-floor roof terrace is the main attraction of this three-star hotel on the east side of the old town.
It’s a great spot for breakfast or an evening drink, although you’ll need to bring your own alcohol as there’s no bar. Doubles from £57 (Squarehotel-Nimes.com).
Hotel des Tuileries
Check into the Hotel des Tuileries, which is just around the corner from the Philippe Starck-designed Abribus bus stop (above). Image courtesy of Creative Commons
A cozy hotel run by a British couple on a residential street just around the corner from the Philippe Starck designed Abribus bus stop.
Ask for a room with a small balcony so you can sit outside and enjoy a craft beer or wine from the downstairs bar. Breakfast bread and pastries come from the neighboring bakery. Double room from £65 (hoteldestuileries.com).
Hotel de l’Amphitheater
Consisting of two adjoining 17th and 18th century townhouses, this 11-room hotel near the Roman Arena has been renovated in a minimalist southern French style. There’s no elevator to access the top two floors, but at least you can fuel up with the made-to-order breakfast. Double room from £78 (hoteldelamphitheater.com).
What to see and do
A former Roman colony, Nîmes has attractions such as the Maison Carree, a well-preserved temple, and the amphitheater (£11.40, arenes-nimes.com). For floor mosaics visit the Musee de la Romanite (From £7.90; museedelaromanite.fr).
Admire the floor mosaics at the Musee de la Romanite – tickets start at £7.90
The Musee du Vieux Nimes (£4.40; Place aux Herbes) has an exhibition on the history of denim, which is believed to have originated in Nimes.
Great modern art
It’s the 30th anniversary of the Carre d’Art, designed by Norman Foster and home to a modern art collection (from £7, carreartmusee.com).
Check out the modern art in the Carre d’Art, which is celebrating its 30th anniversary this year
Marvel at the market
Les Halles de Nimes, a covered market, has stalls full of tempting local produce (leshallesdenimes.fr).
where should we eat
Le Bistrot de Tatie Agnes
You’ll have to be quick to snag one of the few tables at this ‘hole in the wall’ down an alley south of the Maison Carree, which only serves lunch. Try a salad: ‘La Nimes’ offers tapenade (olive spread), anchoiade (anchovy dip) and brandade (cod mixed with olive oil and cream) for £9 (lebistrotdetatieagnes.eatbu.com).
This pistachio-colored café with a Grade I listed painted and sculpted ceiling has been a favorite meeting place for locals since 1813. Drop in for a coffee (£3.25) and cake (£3.70) or for lunch or dinner. There is a plat du jour from £9.50 and snacks such as terrine (rough pie) with bread from £5.70 (le-napo.fr).
Le Nicolas is a family-run restaurant that serves “reasonably priced regional dishes.”
Run by the same family for 62 years, this cozy restaurant with beamed ceilings, exposed stone walls and light-tiled floors serves good-value regional dishes such as Gardiane de Taureau – bull meat slowly cooked in red wine – from £13 (restaurant-nicolas-nimes.com).
Gard O Vin
Tucked away on the Place du Marche, this wine bar is the ideal place to sample the local AOC Costieres de Nimes (from £3.50 per glass). It opens at 5pm. Stretch out on a sofa in the vaulted cellar or perch on a stool outside to enjoy cheese and charcuterie. A plate of sausage slices costs £4.40.
Flights from Stansted and Edinburgh from £12.99 each way (ryanair.com). The shuttle bus between the airport and Nîmes costs £6 each way (tangobus.fr). Or take the train from London St Pancras and change in Lille or Paris, from £75 one way (thetrainline.com).