Top French Cities - Nîmes at a glance

Press release

For more information, visit Nîmes Tourism at

City region: Pyrénées-Méditerranées / Occitanie

Population & what they are called: 154,013 inhabitants (2013 census), called Nîmois

Access from Paris:

  • by road: about 6 h 45 min (442 miles) via the A6 and A7 autoroute du Soleil

  • by train: about 3 hours by TGV from the Gare de Lyon

Famous native daughters & sons:

  • Alphone Daudet, writer

  • Jean Bousquet, fashion designer

  • Louis Perrier, doctor, founder of original Perrier water spa

Most distinctive and/or unique fact or trait (or little known fact):

  • The famous serge cloth used in jeans was originally from Nîmes – de (from) + Nîmes = denim.

Notable sites:

  • Maison Carrée – one of the best-preserved Roman temples in the world

  • Arène de Nîmes – best-preserved Roman amphitheater in France, now used as a bull fighting and concert arena

  • Tour Magne – ruined Roman tower atop Mont Cavalier

Top annual events:

  • Festival de Nîmes – a music festival with performances in the Roman amphitheater (

  • Feria de Nîmes – a twice annual bullfighting event that takes over the city

  • Grands Jeux Romains – an experience of life during the Roman era through historic reconstructions and a unique show with 500 participants

Most notable museums:

  • Musée des Beaux-Arts de Nîmes – a growing collection of fine European art from past centuries

  • Carré d'Art Jean Bousquet – a media library and museum of modern art (

  • Musée des Cultures Taurines – devoted to bullfighting traditions

Culinary specialties:

  • brandade de Nîmes – a purée of salt cod with olive oil and a little milk

  • gardiane de taureau – bull's meat marinated in Nîmes red wine

  • petit pâté nîmois – a small pastry case with meat filling

  • Croquant Villaret – long golden biscuits with a special texture and secret flavor

Local wines & spirits:

  • Costières de Nîmes AOC wines – from vineyards that are some of the oldest in Europe

  • Côtes du Rhône (AOC) wines – including Tavel, called ‘the first rosé of France'

  • Perrier mineral water – its source is in Vergèze, just a few kilometers from Nîmes


  • Les Halles – the large, daily, covered food market

  • Marché Jean Jaurès – the excellent Friday farmers market with a simultaneous antique market

  • downtown – the main area for shopping is around Rue Général-Perrier, Rue Marchands, Rue Madeleine and Rue de l’Aspic

Most popular night spots:

  • SMAC Paloma – modern stage for today's music

  • Le SPOT – an alternative exhibition and event space, also with a bar

Local population’s favorite activities (or hangouts):

  • playing pétanque in the many parks and gardens, such as the Arènes Esplanade Feuchères and the Allées Jaurès

  • Jardins de la Fontaine – gardens built around the ruins of the Roman sanctuary

  • Pont du Gard – Roman aqueduct built more than 2,000 years ago and located just outside of town

Local industries:

  • textiles – especially denim, the fabric of blue jeans, which derives its name from the city

In Pop Culture:

  • Rock bands like Dire Straits, Rammstein, Metallica and Depeche Mode have performed or record live video and albums at the Arena of Nîmes

  • A Long Way from Home – the 2013 romantic drama about retiring in the South of France was filmed in Nîmes

  • The Vanishing – parts of the original Dutch film (called Spoorloos) were set in Nîmes

About Top French Cities -

Top French Cities is an association of 29 cities, from regional capitals like Bordeaux to important towns like Avignon and Versailles. They are perfect for young travelers, families and anyone else looking for fun and authentic French experiences that will fit their budget. Most of these cities are university towns with a youthful atmosphere, but all of them reflect the heritage and distinctive flavors of the regions to which they belong. Many are forward-looking too, with historic buildings repurposed to house contemporary art and activity centers like Les Docks in Marseille. Many have created or integrated new, modern museums to contrast with their classical, architectural heritage, like in Nimes, where the cutting-edge Museum of Roman Civilization (Musée de la Romanité) is located across from the historic Roman amphitheater, or in Nantes, where whimsical mechanical creatures are being created, or in the UNESCO World Heritage Site concrete city of Le Havre.


Marion Fourestier
Atout France-The France Tourism Development Agency