Musée des Beaux-Arts
The city's fine-arts museum has a fairly pedestrian collection of Flemish, Italian and French works, although it's worth a look for the...
Musée du Vieux Nîmes
A mix of old and new at this modest museum: period costumes and furniture, plus pin-ups of denim-sporting celebs such as Elvis, James...
Musée d'Histoire Naturelle
Sharing the same building as the Musée Archéologique, this museum has a musty collection of stuffed animals gazing bleakly out.
Grand Café de la Bourse et du Commerce
This opulent 19th-century cafe opposite Les Arènes is ideal for a leisurely coffee or a pre-dinner cocktail.
To the rear of this excellent wine shop, which alone justifies a visit, there's an intimate dining area, where Madame in the kitchen and...
place des Arènes · interesting places nearby
Les Arènes information
Nîmes' twin-tiered amphitheatre is one of southwest France's most impressive Roman structures. Built around 100AD, the amphitheatre would have held around 24,000 spectators across four seating tiers; the posher you were, the closer you would have sat to the centre. The arena would have staged gladiatorial contests and public executions, and it's still regularly used for public events – mostly of a less gory nature than in Roman times, although bullfights remain a regular fixture on the calendar.
Inside, the amphitheatre is remarkably well preserved, especially considering its somewhat chequered history of being adapted, modified, plundered for stone and generally abused (the arena even contained a miniature town-within-a-town during the Middle Ages). The seating tiers, interior halls and staircases are still in situ, and there's a small museum which contains replicas of gladitorial armour. An informative audioguide detailing the building's history is included in the admission price.
A major project is currently underway to clean limescale, lichen and pollution stains from the exterior, and to address some troubling cracks that have appeared in recent years, so there may well be some scaffolding when you visit.