Builders of some of the world's most beautiful bridges, French civic engineering is world renowned. But is Gallic good taste and love of technical design inherited from the Romans? The spectacular Pont du Gard, on the Unesco World Heritage list, combines elegance with practicality. Built around 2000 years ago as an aqueduct, its three tiers are still in excellent condition and open to all. With an activity centre, shops, restaurants and museum it's a fabulous day out for the whole family. And you can even get married there.
More or less in the centre of Nimes, near its Roman heart, stands this Norman Foster construction. It was built to provide a ‘new setting’ for the Maison Carrée (an extremely well preserved Roman temple) and thankfully was kept at a low level. Apparently it affords some impressive reflections in the inevitable acres of glass if you’re there at the right time and in suitable weather. I think I’m with Prince Charles on this one.
Boulevard à Daudet
No doubt that many will know that Nîmes is home to a very well preserved Roman amphitheatre and whether or not this is the sort of thing that they may or may not want to see. It does have hidden charms however, even if you’re not into the Roman stuff.
If you climb to the top perimeter wall of the arena (some waist-high steps have to be negotiated) it provides some impressive views across the city which you’d be hard-pressed to find anywhere else - and for me was worth the entrance fee.
Rue des Arènes
It's a friendly vineyard run by two brothers, originally from northern France, and their wonderfully chatty mother. You are welcomed into a cavernous farmhouse annexe and given the opportunity to taste a whole range of their wines, from several varieties, vintages, and blends. They don't mind if you only a buy a few bottles. Also, highly recommended roadside organic fruiterer is only one kilometer away.
Domaine de Trepaloup
Rue de Moulin d'Huile
30260 SAINT CLEMENT
tél : 04.66.77.48.39
fax : 04.66.77.55.21
A great trip between a canyon and a large beach. Have a nice time passing under the Pont du Gard with your road book explaining all secrets of this amazing place.
The beach of Remoulins
Fly to Nimes from Stansted. Hire a car and stay at Atelier des Granges. This is officially a backpackers place, but has double rooms and is a great place for a family. It is also like staying in an art gallery.
One of the best places I have stayed, ever. Very friendly and helped us with the locals and food and great views of the village church on the cliff opposite.
One of the best action adventure trips and at a really low cost you will not regret it. Book it now and do it just before the season opens.
Excellent French food dans le vieux style, serious but not over priced - ornate gilded interior, a clientele of local French people who know how to lunch - staff who have a sense of humour, thanking Ryanair for our custom.
2 rue Gaston Boissier
tel 0033  466675240
Catch the morning Eurostar from London-Lille, then midday train Lille-Nimes. Book seat on top deck of TGV to get views of Eiffel Tower as train arcs around Paris.
Arrive Nimes 16:30 and check into the Novotel Atria, a short walk from the station and adjacent to the fabulous Roman amphitheatre.
Trawl shops, restaurants and bars in Nimes’ pedestrianised centre, buy locally pressed lavender and olive oils, visit the park and water-gardens that climb up to La
Visit the Norman Foster-designed art gallery overlooking the Roman forum. Return on the 9:00 direct train to Lille; arrive London late afternoon.
Lovely family-run restaurant in residential area just off Les Halles. We had a fantastic meal - the mussels in Roquefort and the pudding, some raspberry creamy dish, were brilliant. The whole family seem to work there, it's very relaxed and the bill was around a ridiculous 12 euros a head.
29 Place du Grand Couvent, Nimes, tel 0466299981
Fabulous and reasonably priced B&B (about £40 a room in June) in a small village (excellent restaurant and church, but that's it). Very pretty garden and pool.
The B&B is separate from the owner's house and has own lounge(s), spa, and use of a kitchen, which helps cut costs if you're on a budget.
Easy to get to Avignon, Pont du Gard etc.
24km from Nîmes.
Fly to Nimes airport, and either hire a car or get the bus into Nimes, then a bus to Uzes (bus station at back of the train station - this is the first stop for the airport bus).
At Uzes get a bus heading for Avignon which drops you at Argilliers on the main road. It's about 1 mile walk head for the church spire!
The basics are in place in a small way - bar with snacks, Hertz, and a newspaper shop. But nothing much opened until 11:00. Hertz opened eventually to take the keys back. If you are catching RyanAir then turning up 90 minutes before flight time should be fine!
I have just spent two glorious nights at the Jardins Secrets. I have visited Nîmes on a number of occasions and this has to be the best hotel in the city.
Entrance is through a discreet gate, which you are given a code for, into a well-tended beautiful garden. There is a small pool, which is surrounded by candle-lit lanterns in the evening.
The weather wasn’t great on our visit but this would be a fantastic place to have a drink in the summer.
The building itself is equally beautiful. On the ground floor there are a series of rooms. You can choose to have breakfast in any of the rooms, which are lavishly furnished. There are beautiful bowls of roses and candelabra everywhere adding to the romantic ambience.
This used to be the main family house of the owners so there are nice personal touches everywhere.
The bedroom we had, of which there are only four, was incredible, very stylish with an amazing ensuite bathroom.
Attention to detail in this place is incredible. We arrived back from shopping to find chocolate cake and fresh strawberries waiting for us and they even provided us with English newspapers at breakfast.
Annabelle, her husband and Stephanie couldn’t have been more welcoming and helpful without being overbearing.
Breakfast is extra and is typically French. They don’t have a restaurant as such but you can have either fruits-de-mere or a cheese plate, both with wine and desert. We opted for the cheese plate on the last night and were presented with a fantastic assortment of cheeses and a great bottle of wine.
I could go on. I would highly recommend this place to anyone who wants to be in the middle of the city but wants the feeling of a romantic country hideaway.
3 rue Gaston Maruejols 30000 Nîmes;
tell : 04 66 84 82 64
A fairly uninspiring municipal (but privately owned) campsite. It has lots of space and shade; there are no marked pitches and the toilet/shower blocks are rather elderly.
But the little onsite bar/restaurant serves amazing, very reasonable evening meals and breakfasts.
On the N110 road south of Crespian (easily missed - look very hard for the entrance signs)
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