Oh UK weather! As the temperature drops considerably and the daylight becomes significantly shorter. The usual UK gloomy weather is fast approaching. Soon the leaves will fall on the ground with different hues of yellow to brown. I love autumn, but I’m not ready as yet.
I was squeezing my last Summer getaway and heading to Nîmes. Why Nîmes? The first thing the flights are cheap, secondly, I’m missing my usual architectural photography.
As soon as I checked-in to my apartment. I was ready for my afternoon stroll along the centre de ville. So here I’ am wandering around Nîmes. It was my lucky day, just in time to witness the last day of “La Feria“. The three day event highlights are the “novilladas” or bullfights, usually held at the arena. And street party or so called “bodegas” (outdoor nightclubs and bars)
As well as concerts at the Square House plaza, at the Arena square and in gardens of the Fountain.
The Arena of Nîmes is a Roman amphitheatre, was built around AD 70, it was remodelled in 1863. A beautifully designed and well preserved arena, with capacity of 24,000 spectators . Up to this present time they held bullfighting during “Feria de Nîmes” and other events. Just by the entrance you will notice a statue of Christian Montcouquiol (“Nimeño II”) a french matador.
While wandering around the Arena, you will notice the vibrant feel of the feria. Many locals enjoying the music and the shows around. Was curious about the people gathered around the fountain and soon found out, there were horse show.
And another thing that caught my eyes was the rows of pop up restaurant along the street. Have decided It’s about time to try some local food. To my surprise most of the menu list in every stall has “Paella”. As the event “La Feria” is derived from a Spanish festival that the Southern France celebrates.
Lastly the open house museum, a free entry to most of the museums. I took the chance to visit as many museums as I can on that afternoon. I visited the Maison Carrée ( Square house ) was commissioned by Marcus Agrippa around 19 BC during the reign of Caesar Augustus, they showcased the history how they built Nîmes. (Nîmes was named after Nemausus, the genie of a sacred fountain, was the capital of a Gaulish tribe).
If your looking for a quiet place or somewhere to go for a picnic. Jardins de la Fontaine is amazing walk in the 15 hectares park. The 17th-century park has Roman ruins, botanic gardens, and beautiful sculptures adorned around the ponds.
Adjacent to the garden, there’s another important place to visit The Tour Magne ( the Great Tower ). Why not to go and hike up the hill of Mont Cavalier, it is the highest point of the city. You will find the remnant of the ancient Augustinian fortifications.
Nîmes is very small place and two days is enough for sightseeing. But if you have extra couple of days to spare, why not explore the nearby cities!
Nîmes has the best transport network, making it easier to visit different cities nearby for a day trips. I did planned to visit Arles. Arles is located in Provence Region just south of Nîmes, overlooking the Rhone River. The impressively well preserved ancient city to medieval architecture within the city walls.
On the following day, I headed to Avignon. Once a seat of the papacy during the 14th century. The well preserved fortress and the stunning Papal Palace, also known the Palais des Papes. It is largest and claimed to be most important medieval Gothic building in Europe.
After some time taking-in the stunning views overlooking the Rhone River. I continued wandering around the garden palace, I followed the narrow fortress sidewalk toward the Pont d’Avignon also known “Pont Saint-Bénézet”. The medieval bridge is the famous landmark of Avignon. The 4 arches is the remains of a 22 arches damaged by crusaders and floods, was believed to have been built in around 1345.
I almost sing and dance along to a kids rhyme song; Sur le pont d’Avignon,On y danse, on y danse. As I meander along the promenade taking lots of photos, I stopped for a moment watching, people along the bridge taking selfie.
I have also visited the famous aqueduct. Pont du Gard an example of humankind artistic masterpiece. The 50 km long bridge and stands 50 meters high spanning across the Gard river. That used to deliver water across Nîmes to private homes and public establishments. It is a World UNESCO Heritage list.
I had a blissful time in Nîmes and wonderful days out in Arles, Avignon and Pont du Gard. Now I think I’m ready for the Autumn season, I’m so excited I’m heading to the Wild Atlantic Coast for my next trip!
Getting into the city centre from the airport, you can take the airport bus called “Nevette”. Buy the ticket from the driver and the end point will be the Nimes Routtier/bus Station just behind the Gare de Nimes/ train station.
if you are planning to visit different town. I highly suggest get a day ticket from Edgard bus, their office is just in front of the bus station. You can use the same ticket with local bus too!
The best time to visit Nimes and the nearby cities is during “La Feria”. They celebrate it during May and September. You will witness the local customs like bullfighting, and lots going on around the city. Plus during the festival, most of the museums are free of charge.