Why visit Nîmes?
Nîmes is a sizeable, pleasant city of old houses and interesting ancient and modern artefacts in a compact space, but is rather too dominated by cars to be relaxing.
The smart TGV (fast train) station provides an easy way to get there. However, the city is only 42 miles from Avignon so makes an easy day trip by car, even if parking is a nightmare.
Hint – park in any underground park in Nîmes’ tourist triangle (aka L’Ecusson, The Shield).
The Roman Temple known as Maison Carrée, near the Carré d’Art modern art museum. Photo by La tete ailleurs.
Built 2, 000 years ago by Marcus Agrippa (who also possibly constructed the amazing Pont du Gard nearby and the Pantheon in Rome) and in use ever since, the Maison Carrée has wowed tourists through the ages, including Thomas Jefferson who modeled the Virginia state capitol building after it.
Starting life as a temple, it morphed into a Christian church in the 4th century it now houses exhibitions; the surrounds were under redevelopment when the bugcrew were there (see photo at bottom) and found the structure grimy and disappointing. The city is undergoing an ambitious renovation process.
Norman Foster’s Carré d’Art modern art museum, on the other hand, is a great success, a temple of glass, light and art.
Getting to Nîmes
– The TGV from Paris (2 hrs 50m) or Lyon (1hr 20m), or just regular train from Avignon.
– Airport at Nîmes-Arles-Camargue.
– Buses from Avignon, Arles and Uzes.
– By car, easily from Arles (via A54), Avignon (N100), Lyon/Orange (A9) Uzes (D979) Pont du Gard (D981).