Les Arènes Entrance
Musée des Cultures Taurines
Learn about the origins of bullfighting at Nîmes' bullfighting museum, footsteps from Les Arènes. Over 8000 pieces make up the...
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...
La Grande Bourse
A spectacular location directly opposite Les Arènes means this opulent 19th-century cafe gleaming with chandeliers and mirrors gets...
Le Cerf à Moustache
The Deer with the Moustache has established itself as one of Nîmes’ best bistros, with quirky decor (including reclaimed furniture and a...
place des Arènes · interesting places nearby
Les Arènes information
Nîmes’ twin-tiered amphitheatre is the best preserved in France. Built around 100 BC, the arena once seated 24,000 spectators and staged gladiatorial contests and public executions, and it's still an impressive venue for gigs, events and summer bullfights (during which it's closed for visits). An audioguide provides context as you explore the arena, seating areas, stairwells and corridors (known to Romans as vomitories ), and afterwards you can view replicas of gladiatorial armour and original bullfighters’ costumes in the museum.
At 133m long, 101m wide and 21m high, with an oval arena encircled by two tiers of arches and columns, the amphitheatre is a testament to the skill and ingenuity of Roman architects. Despite being adapted, plundered for stone and generally abused over many centuries, the structure of the amphitheatre is still largely intact, and it’s not hard to imagine what the atmosphere must have been like when it was filled to capacity.
The seating is divided into four tiers and 34 rows; the posher you were, the closer you sat to the centre. The amphitheatre’s oval design meant everyone had an unrestricted view. A system of trapdoors and hoist-lifts beneath the arena enabled animals and combatants to be put into position during the show. Originally, the amphitheatre would have had a canopy that protected spectators from the weather.