Nîmes, from the Roman era to modernity

Four accesses for Nîmes! Lord Norman Foster has conceived a fascinating dialog past present between Emperor Augustus’ Square House and the Carré d’Art. A face to face in which the Temple columns are reflected in the glass surface of the museum. Quite a symbol! For 20 centuries, Nîmes, the grand-daughter of Rome has succeeded in being a city of builders. Three major steps have influenced the development of Nîmes: the Gallo-Roman era, the era of the 16th to the 18th century, remarkable by its mansions, the richness brought in by Denim, indigo, the Nîmes toile, and the commerce of wine, and finally the 19th that knew perfectly well how to integrate contemporary urbanism to old stones.

The ArenasThe amphitheater dating from the 1st century is the best preserved of the Roman world and one of the largest of Gaule. It used to welcome gladiator spectacles. Today, toreros have replaced the wrestlers in the arena for the great “Feria des Vendanges and of Pentecost”.

La Maison Carrée (The Square House)The temple situated in the heart of the Roman city, is perfectly preserved and framed by Corinthian capitals. It was dedicated to the grandsons of Emperor Augustus.

Le Carré d’Art (The Art Square) Executed by Norman Foster, the Carré is the new temple of Contemporary Art.

The Architects who shaped the city:

  • Martial Raysse. The Place d’Assas. The water line that runs between two sculptures suggests the origins of Nîmes, the Roman “Nemausa” founded near a  source. The Fontaine de la Place du Marché (Fountain on Market Square) executed in collaboration with the Italian sculptor Vito Tongiani, represents the armories of the city. The crocodile chained to a palm-tree, copied from a Roman coin, recalls the history or Anthony and Cleopatra.
  • Jean-Michel Wilmotte.The decorated frontage of the wholesale market
  • Richard Long. The Mud Line
  • Vassiliakis Takis. The Signal
  • Bernard Pagès. Homage to Albert Camus
  • Philippe Starck. The bus shelter Avenue Carnot and the modernized Roman coin. www.nimes.fr

Château de la TuilerieLet’s pay homage to Chantal Comte. With the grand-daughter of Clément Adler, genial inventor of the Eole and aviation pioneer, we fly to other viticultural lands visited by the top class of oeno-tourists. The castle of La Tuilerie, in the style of the Loire châteaux, is a historical staging area on the Tégordane way, on the way to Saint Jaques de Compostelle. Pioneer of reasoned agriculture, the domainhas been in the family since 1956. With the taste of travel and the taste of wine, the cuvées of Chantal AOP Costières de Nîmes and IGP Costières d’Oc, we are transported to shores of unexpected seduction. While tasting Eole whiite, an homage to the pioneers we glide. Vieilles Vignes Rouges 2007 express all the aromatic complexity of syrah. We appreciate the double pleasure of a tasting in the company of a few kimonos – the geishas are absent! As for Chantal, she constantly embroiders cultured thematisuch as concerts, musical nights in the open. At the château de la Tuilerie, the calendar is full.

The Bastide of Fabrègues

The Bastide of Fabrègues.
Close to the Tuilerie, the Bastide is Chantal’s other cherished domain. In a garden planted with olive trees and oaks, the spacious house flanked by a tower is surrounded by a pale stone wall. Organized as a top luxury bed & breakfat, Asiatic or Oriental in decor, with paintings, precious pieces of furniture and materials, each room declines the voyage theme. A refined resort to renew oneself at the entrance to Nîmes.

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Le Carré d’Art. Thierry Tarmella cleverly preserved the atmosphere of this beautiful private house of the 19th century in creating his restaurant. We are happily surprised In the padded salons or in the flower garden, one is happily suurprised and tempted by the marmite du pêcheur with foie gras, the aigö-boulido, and frogs in green crust. Chef Pascal Constantin renews his menu to the rhythm of the seasons and pairs it with a list of regional wines. 2 rue Gaston Boissier. Tel.: 04 66 67 52 40. www.restaurant-lecarredart.com

Le Cheval Blanc. Michel Hermet’s vineyard is close to Nîmes’ entrance. Wine Bar and Fooding face the arenas. 1 place des Arènes. Tel.: 04 66 76 19 59. www.winebar-lechevalblanc.com