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Nestled in a picturesque pocket of the south of France, the ancient majesty of Nimes’ historical monuments rivals only that of Rome’s. Tourists seeking the celebrated splendor of Paris regularly overlook this secretive city, however a visit will reveal some of Europe’s most impressive and iconic structures. Architectural diversity is Nimes’ primary allure; in a small area, observers will feast upon baroque beauty, perfectly preserved Roman relics and quaint medieval squares.
With its elegant arches and stolid stonewalls, it’s impossible to overemphasize the theatrical authority of Les Arenas. Its 2000-year-old walls are still used for their original purpose, and the amphitheater is home to bull fights in season. The structure is decidedly reminiscent of Rome’s coliseum and has regularly confused tourists expecting a traditional French city.
The stone façade of the Maison Carre exude an air of sophisticated simplicity that enhances the authority of this ancient temple. Hailed as one of the best-preserved Roman monuments in the world, the ancient structure dates back to the year 400 BC and has had many functions over the centuries. Sit opposite at a quaint café in order to admire the majesty of this prehistoric picture.
Despite its ancient history, Nimes still embraces modernity in its Carre d’Art, a magnificent museum that houses a captivating collection of contemporary art. Its dynamic design comprising of shimmering glass couldn’t differ more greatly to the ancient building that stands opposite, yet it symbolizes a seamless incorporation of the classic and the contemporary.
Nimes sublime local specialty is brandade, a flavorful combination of chopped cod, mashed potatoes, cream and garlic. A rustic restaurant whose fine food maximizes the flavor of this delicious delicacy is L’Ancien Theatre, an atmospheric and inviting place that uses locally sourced ingredients to create rich and robust dishes. (4 Rue Racine, 30900 Nimes, France)