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As a monumental City of Art and History with over 80 classified historical buildings, Nîmes doesn’t go about things half way. As the largest city in the Gard area, it is a treasure trove of ancient history unique in France with its Arènes and Maison Carrée in the lead. But it’s also famed for gems of modern architecture such as Sir Norman Foster’s Carré d’Art or the Nemausus apartment complex designed by Jean Nouvel. Little by little, you’ll find out how to tame Nîmes on foot, an intriguing but easy adventure since the historical centre is relatively compact. With your head in the air and your nose to the wind, in the little alleys shaded from the hot sun, you’ll learn to know the lovely lady better.
It’s quite likely that your steps will lead you to Jean-Jaurès boulevard, fully revamped, with family-beloved trees and fountains. There on market day, Fridays, you’ll delight in the fine wares provided by local producers and fill your picnic basket to the brim with brandade, Nîmes strawberries, olive oil and Costières de Nîmes wines. Right on hand you can choose to stroll through the sumptuous Jardins de la Fontaine or even climb up to the Tour Magne, a remnant of the Roman ramparts overlooking the town. To finish up in style, visit one of the city’s six major museums and then give in to the temptation of one of the many Nîmes night life spots.
Outside the city gates, it’s all garrigue scrub lands. Visit the romantic quarries of Junas, the Nages pre-Roman hill-fort, Calvisson with its Languedoc boutis needlework, the Villevielle castle – there are countless getaway choices. One of the most charming is most likely the jaunt to medieval Sommières, so festive with lively public squares and narrow shopping streets. And what if we jumped on our bikes, heading out on the Voie Verte path ?
“Nîmes is truly the crossroad between Spain and Italy. Is this linked to our Roman ruins? No matter what, deep down we are really ‘Latins’.”
Michel Hermet, restaurateur and sommelier
Castle of Villevieille
Roman TOUR MAGNE
La Maison Carrée
Les moulins du Roc de Gachone
Les carrières de Junas
CARRE D'ART Museum of Contemporary Art
Sommières, cité médiévale
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The picholine olive is a special olive of the Gard department. It’s long, and has an elongated pit and firm meat. In October it’s harvested when still green. Its very special taste is highly prized by gourmets. This olive was named after the Piccolini brothers, 18th century chemists who discovered a new way to debitter the Collias olives using wood ash. In honour of these two Italians and their recipe, the Collias olive became known as the Picholine.
From Sommières to Caveirac, right besides Nîmes, a former railroad line has been turned into a charming voie verte for all walkers, bikers, roller-bladers...
This pathway maps out a perfect and safe promenade of all shapes and forms. It’s actually a free entertainment space criss-crossing the landscapes and villages of the Pays de Sommières and Vaunage areas.
Along its full length, this “green route” offers you options for other hiking paths branching off from it, for myriad potential leisure explorations.
OR...continue your exploration of Gard County