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Day trip in Nîmes in the South of France

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Day trip in Nîmes in the South of France

A great way to spend a weekend whilst on your immersive French language experience in Montpellier is to visit nearby cities. Montpellier is ideally situated in the south of France with so many nearby cities and towns to visit. One of my personal favorites is the beautiful town of Nîmes. There are so many wonderful places and monuments to see. Nîmes is very easy to get to and is a fun city that you can visit either on your own or with your new found friends from your immersive French course in Montpellier. I would recommend taking the train. It is a short trip and tickets can be easily bought either at the station from a person (a great opportunity to practice your French!) or from a machine. Tickets can also be bought online or through an app such as Trainline. A word of advice, check if there are to be any protests or strikes as this can affect the trains – I speak from experience! When visiting another city, I would recommend looking up what to do whilst you are there so I have compiled a list of my favorite places and things to do in Nîmes.

If you have taken the train then when you arrive at Nîmes you will walk out of the station onto the Esplanade Charles de Gaulle. Walk down this until you reach the beautiful Fountaine Pradier. Across the square are several cafés where you can get some refreshments before you start exploring the town. These cafés also provide an opportunity to practice your French in a real-life situation.

The Arena

The most striking and obvious landmark is the arena. Because of the invasion by the Romans there is a great many Roman architectural landmarks in Nîmes. Walking around the streets of Nîmes it is sometimes difficult to know whether you are in Italy in France. You can enter into the arena or simply walk around it and marvel at both the architecture and how old it is. If you buy a ticket then make sure to buy a joint ticket to include other landmarks, this is by far the best way to get your moneys worth and see as many sites as possible. If you don’t buy a ticket you can still appreciate the wonderful architecture. There is also a shop where you can buy postcards to send to your friends and family.

La Maison Carrée

Another incredible piece of roman architecture is La Maison Carrée. Located in the center of town and opposite Le Carré d’Art La Maison Carrée is absolutely worthwhile. Incredibly picturesque with stunning pillars there are also information boards about the history of the building that was built in 16 BC. Although when I visited the inside was closed, if you can get inside, I would absolutely recommend it.

Les Jardins de la Fontaine

A great place to eat your lunch is in the fountain garden although watch out for the pigeons. Just a short walk away from the center of the town is the fountain gardens that also has very many roman statues in it. This park is a classic location for wedding photoshoots so you are very likely to see a wedding party there. The fountain gardens are a lovely place to escape from the noise and chaos of the town. Within these gardens you feel completely detached from the town center and thanks to the Roman sculptures you can imagine an empire that has since fallen.

Additionally, within the fountain garden are other historical sites that you should visit – in particularly the temple of Diana, this incredible ruin is open and you are able to walk inside. Around Nîmes there are information boards about the various historical sites, if you read these why not try to read the original French, this way you can put into practice the French you have learnt during your immersive French language course in Montpellier. Finally, I would recommend hiking up the hill behind the fountain garden to see La Tour Magne, an ancient lookout tower, if you have bought the combination ticket then you are able to go to the top of the tower to see the amazing view, if you have not bought the ticket you can also buy one on the door. At the top there is an amazing view of the town.

My final recommendation for Nîmes is the fine arts gallery, although it is not the biggest art gallery it only costs €3 if you are a student. To get student discounts simply show your student declaration that the French language school ILA has given you.

Finally, Nîmes has many great cafes, restaurants and boulangeries that you can eat at. Nîmes is a wonderful town to visit and was probably one of my favorite trips that I did whilst doing my immersive French language course in Montpellier.