A week in Nîmes
It was one of the loveliest trips I’ve ever been on, mainly because I got to spend a week with Sam and Dougie, but also because it is such a beautiful place, we completely fell in love with it!
Sam and I took Dougie to Portugal just over a year ago, which was our first family holiday, but I was even more excited for a trip now Dougie is a bit older.
Nîmes is a city in the south of France, and is known for its Roman heritage, and several Roman remains can be found in and around the city. Also, fun fact, denim gets its name from the city.
We got incredibly lucky. One of the wonderful couples we got to know through NCT have an apartment in the centre of Nîmes, and they let us stay there. It is one of the most incredible places I’ve ever stayed.
When you’re holidaying with a toddler, we’ve found its good to stay somewhere that you are happy spending time in, as obviously once Dougie was in bed around 7pm, we were in for the night. The apartment is going to be on AirBnb, so I’ll add in a link as soon as it’s live!
We flew from Stansted to Nîmes with Ryanair. Flights were very cheap, and took around 1hr45. Nîmes airport is incredibly small, if you’re departing from there, take food – it only has vending machines after check-in! There is also a train station in the city, and you can get to Nîmes direct from Paris and Lyon.
We hired a car for the time we were there, which wasn’t too expensive, however, parking in Nîmes is quite costly. We were staying in the pedestrianised area, and they have a lot of 24/7 car parks dotted around the city, the cheapest we found was €15.80 for 24 hours.
Pont du Gard
Pont du Gard is about 40-minutes drive from Nîmes. A UNESCO World Heritage Site, it’s an ancient Roman aqueduct that crosses the Gardon River. It has three tiers of arches, and as soon as we arrived, we could see why it is such a popular tourist attraction.
Dougie quickly took charge of our route, and marched off with the buggy. We managed to redirect him towards the aqueduct and we walked across. The view is absolutely stunning, and although it was quite cloudy when we visited, it was a really warm day. After quite a bit of walking, we headed down to the river where you can paddle. Dougie wasn’t sure at first but he quickly realised how fun it was to splash Sam and I.
Changing his wet clothes and nappy afterwards was less fun. There are a couple of restaurants there, though they were quite expensive. Entrance to Pont du Gard was €8.50 per person (under-6s go free) for the basic entrance ticket. There are more expensive tickets available, offering guided tours to the museum, and passes up to the top level, which we would of considered doing if we didn’t have Dougie and a buggy!
We were intending to visit Camargue Nature Park, but we wound up miles away from the part of the park we wanted to visit, and so we ended up in Arles. It’s the city that inspired many of van Gogh’s paintings, and has lots of Roman monuments.
We found a lovely little park to sit and have our picnic lunch in, and Dougie had fun playing with the bubble…maker(?!) we’d brought with us. We went for a walk around the amphitheatre which was very impressive, then went for a wander around the city centre (with ice cream). Arles has some of the prettiest streets I’ve ever seen, I could have spent hours just exploring!
We couldn’t have a holiday without a trip to the beach, so we headed to Le Grau-du-Roi for the day, which took us just over an hour from Nîmes. Vast expanses of fine sand greeted us at Espiguette beach, it was absolutely lovely. It was fairly quiet when we visited, although I imagine it can get pretty busy. We had a drink at the beach bar, and then headed down to the sea.
Dougie wasn’t too sure about the sea at first, but once he was in, he loved it. It was amazing watching Sam and Dougie splash about in the waves together, they had so much fun. I know Sam was disappointed I hadn’t taken any photos of Dougie when he was jumping around, but I was just enjoying watching them so much!
We were staying in the centre of Nîmes which is absolutely beautiful. On the day we arrived, the final day of a traditional bullfighting festival, Feria de Nîmes was underway. While this will not be the event for everyone, the city was absolutely buzzing, and there were some great food and drink stalls and a few markets which wouldn’t be there once the festival had finished.
The Arena of Nîmes is the main attraction in the city, it’s a Roman amphitheatre that was built around AD 70 and was remodelled in 1863. It’s used for public events, plus annual bullfights, and you can go and visit it for €10. We thought Dougie would LOVE it because he loves stairs and climbing but…
There are lovely squares where you can get food and drink, and plenty of ice cream parlours. Also everywhere has slushie-style ice drinks, which I never got around to trying, but they looked so good! There are a couple of playgrounds near the Arena which we took Dougie to, and a beautiful park called The Gardens of the Fountain.
The Square House is a restored Roman temple, it’s really beautiful and was one of the first sites we saw when we arrived – I loved how it was just sat proudly in the middle of a square, surrounded by high street stores and restaurants.
Nîmes was an incredible place to visit, not only is the city itself wonderful, but there are so many amazing places to explore around it. Sam and I already want to go back!
Have you ever visited Nîmes? What’s your favourite holiday destination?