The summer has gone. Over 25 degrees, ciders in the garden and barbeques slowly stopped with the first fallen leaves from trees. No one was ready for the fall. So a weekend in Nimes in South France sounded like a great idea. Forecast about 26 degrees, French champagne, and food, plus the return tickets from London for £30 wasn’t something we could ignore. So we packed and escaped for the weekend to this beautiful Roman city of Nimes in South France.
Situated between the Mediterranean Sea and the Cévennes mountains with Roman history – Nimes is definitely one of the prettiest little cities I have ever visited. It welcomed us like its old friends with open arms and gorgeous weather for the entire weekend. Strolling historic streets first thing in the morning after landing we were accompanied by typical French music from local cafes.
Nimes does make you feel like you are travelling in time, somewhere back to the 28BC with its rich Roman architecture and monuments. I loved it; the mixture of the French language, macarons, and Roman buildings, Nimes is a real gem and one of a kind. Weekend in Nimes is was a great idea!
The Amphitheatre of Nîmes
Talking about its architecture one of Nîmes most famous buildings is The Amphitheatre of Nîmes. Just like its larger cousin, this Colosseum is a perfect reflection of what the Roman engineers and constructors could accomplish with its widely recognised oval-shape and being about 133 meters long and 101 meters wide. In the past, this arena could hold approximately 24,000 spectators. Unfortunately, since 1863 this arena is also known for its bullfights and still holds two annual bullfights. We didn’t go inside – (I don’t want my money to be used to support this kind of thing) but if you would like to visit – the tickets cost about 10 euros, but you can also buy a combined ticket for all major attractions. (More information via this link https://www.arenes-nimes.com/en/prepare-your-visit/rates)
French gardens – Jardins de la Fontaine
With the sun beaming right above our heads and enjoying each other’s company our next stop was Jardins de la Fontaine. This oasis is a great escape from the busy streets, being full of hidden little places and is the perfect place to sit and have a picnic. This was also the first public garden in Europe, stretched out over 14 hectares and divided into two parts: one is a classic garden formed in the 1800s and the other one is a typical Mediterranean garden built in the 1900s. It is definitely worthy of a visit with its free entrance and offers peace and greenery almost all year round.
Now, embrace yourself – if you want to see the entirety of Nimes stretched out in front of you, you will have to give up the above-mentioned peace and actually do some work. The steep walk to Tower Magne is not for those who have bad cardio (like me), or knee problems (like me) or hate stairs and high open spaces (again, me). Although the visitor centre in the tower sells bottled water you will need to get there first so on a hot and sunny day, make sure you take some refreshments with you. There are some parking spaces outside the tower if you are driving. Getting to the top of the Tower is the scariest part, I am not scared of heights, but with the twisted stairs being barely wide enough for one person and the wobble handrails played with my mind and turned my legs turned to jelly.
But then… the view! People always say that this view was worth of struggle and trust me, it is. Nimes came into blossom like the first flower in the spring and I fell in love with the view. At that moment I totally forgot about the dizzying climb and just sat there, enjoying the view. Definitely a must-do during your weekend in Nimes!
The cost to Tower is 3 euros, but again, you can get a package deal I mentioned earlier.
After getting up at three o’clock in the morning to catch the plane, followed by the walk around the city and the climbing of Magne tower, not only knackered me but also made me hungry, so I knew it was time to get some food and power nap (I do tempt to have power naps pretty much wherever I go).
We grabbed some tasty street food and ice creams in the city centre (there are so many food stalls and places to eat from £ to ££££, so the choice is completely up to you) and after that, we headed back to the hotel room to get some rest.
We stayed in the Citotel Hotel Cesar, right next to the train station and within short walking distance to all main attractions. A night in a hotel cost us about £44 – so yeah, it was a really budget stay. Although the room was really backdated, it had a balcony with the view of the street painted with sunset colours. The only thing I really didn’t like was the smell of smoke on the duvets and smoking neighbours next to our room. As an asthmatic, this was a big thing for me. Staff was friendly, they let us accommodate to our room earlier than the normal check-in times and helped us with any enquires which we had.
Because this was the only night we had in Nimes, we wanted to make it special.
Both I and Carl love good food, nice drinks and love to spoil ourselves at least once wherever we go. I like to pre-plan everything from where we will be eating to what trips we will be doing, as I don’t want to miss anything.
So I did my research (as I always do) about the best restaurants in Nimes, and I found The Esclafidou. I spoke to its owner Elmarie before our trip via Facebook to make sure we had a table reserved; so we put on our nice clothes, makeup (well, me) packed our camera and went for a wander during the night through Nimes looking for random bars and spots to take pictures before enjoying our date night at Elmarie’s restaurant.
The restaurant was so good – it deserves its own blog – which you can find out about our experience in the Foodie Section, or simply click on this link, it will take you directly there!
Nimes is magical, and you should visit it.
Nimes is a gorgeous place to visit and because it isn’t as well-known among tourists like Rome, Venice, or Paris – I am promising you will have a great time without overcrowded places. Weekend in Nimes gives you enough time to explore the entire place, but I would suggest staying longer. I am definitely planning on visiting again but more than for a weekend, to explore not only this city but the area of South France.
The Roman history will make you feel special, you may feel like you are in Italy, not in France, but as soon as you enter one of the famous patisseries – the feeling will be long gone.
There are not many places I have visited and would actually come back as I like to explore new areas, but I will be definitely back in Nimes and South France soon!
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