1 French Land Register data, which excludes lakes, ponds, glaciers
> 1 km2 (0.386 sq mi or 247 acres) and river
2 Population without double counting: residents of multiple communes
(e.g., students and military personnel) only counted once.
Nîmes (/niːm/; French: [nim]; Provençal Occitan: Nimes
[ˈnimes]) is a city in the
Occitanie region of southern France. It is
the capital of the
Nîmes is located between the
Mediterranean Sea and the Cévennes
mountains. The estimated population of
Nîmes is 146,709 (2012).
Nîmes has a rich history, dating back to the
Roman Empire when the
city was home to 50,000–60,000 people. Several famous
monuments are in Nîmes, such as the
Nîmes Arena and the Maison
Carrée. Because of this,
Nîmes is often referred to as the French
1.2 4000–2000 BC
1.3 1800–600 BC
1.4 600–49 BC
1.5 Roman period
1.6 4th–13th centuries
1.7 Period of invasions
1.8 17th century to the French Revolution
1.9 From the French Revolution to the present
4 Economy and infrastructure
10 International relations
11 See also
13 Further reading
14 External links
See also: Timeline of Nîmes
Arena of Nîmes.
The city derives its name from that of a spring in the Roman village.
The contemporary coat of arms of the city of
Nîmes includes a
crocodile chained to a palm tree with the inscription COL NEM, for
Colonia Nemausus, meaning the "colony" or "settlement" of Nemausus,
the local Celtic god of the Volcae Arecomici. Veterans of the Roman
legions who had served Julius Caesar in his Nile campaigns, at the end
of fifteen years of soldiering, were given plots of land to cultivate
on the plain of Nîmes.
The city was located on the Via Domitia, a
Roman road constructed in
118 BC which connected
Italy with Spain.
Its name appears in inscriptions in
Gaulish as dede matrebo
Namausikabo = "he has given to the mothers of Nîmes" and "toutios
Namausatis" = "citizen of Nîmes".
The site on which the built-up area of
Nîmes has become established
in the course of centuries is part of the edge of the alluvial plain
of the Vistrenque River which butts up against low hills: to the
northeast, Mont Duplan; to the southwest, Montaury; to the west, Mt.
Cavalier and the knoll of Canteduc.
The Neolithic site of Serre Paradis reveals the presence of
semi-nomadic cultivators in the period 4000 to 3500 BC on the future
site of Nîmes. The population of the site increased during the
thousand-year period of the Bronze Age. The menhir of Courbessac (or
La Poudrière) stands in a field, near the airstrip. This limestone
monolith of over two metres in height dates to about 2500 BC, and must
be considered the oldest monument of Nîmes.
The Bronze Age has left traces of villages that were made out of huts
The Warrior of Grezan is considered to be the most ancient indigenous
sculpture in southern Gaul. The hill named Mt.
Cavalier was the site of the early oppidum, which gave birth to the
city. During the third and 2nd centuries BC a surrounding wall was
built, closed at the summit by a dry-stone tower, which was later
incorporated into the masonry of the Tour Magne. The Wars of Gaul and
the fall of
Marseille (49 BC) allowed
Nîmes to regain its autonomy
See also: Nemausus
Gard from the south bank
Nîmes became a Roman colony sometime before 28 BC, as witnessed by
the earliest coins, which bear the abbreviation NEM. COL, "Colony of
Nemausus". Some years later a sanctuary and other constructions
connected with the fountain were raised on the site.
already under Roman influence, though it was
Augustus who made the
city the capital of
Narbonne province, and gave it all its glory. It
was also known as the birthplace of the family of Roman Emperor
The city had an estimated population of 60,000 in the time of
Augustus gave the town a ring of ramparts
six kilometres (3.7 miles) long, reinforced by fourteen towers; two
gates remain today: the Porta Augusta and the Porte de France. An
aqueduct was built to bring water from the hills to the north. Where
this crossed the River
Uzes and Remoulins, the
spectacular Pont du
Gard was built. This is 20 kilometres (12 miles)
north east of the city. Also, the
Maison Carrée is one of the best
preserved temples to be found anywhere in the territory of the former
Roman Empire; it later inspired the design of the Virginia State
Capitol at Richmond. Nothing remains of some other monuments, the
existence of which is known from inscriptions or architectural
fragments found in the course of excavations. It is known that the
town had a civil basilica, a curia, a gymnasium and perhaps a circus.
The amphitheatre dates from the end of the 2nd century AD and was one
of the largest amphitheatres in the Empire.
Dimensions of the largest amphitheatres of the Roman Empire
Colosseum (Rome, Italy)
188 × 156 m
167 × 137 m
157 × 134 m
156 × 134 m
156 × 128 m
154 × 130 m
133 × 101 m
Emperor Constantine endowed the city with baths. It became the seat of
the Diocesan Vicar, the chief administrative officer of southern Gaul.
The town was prosperous until the end of the 3rd century – during
the 4th and 5th centuries, the nearby town of
Arles enjoyed more
prosperity. In the early 5th century the Praetorian Prefecture was
Trier in northeast Gaul to Arles. The
captured the city from the Romans in 473 AD.
Nemausus, Nismes Civitas Narbonensis surrounded by its walls, after
Sebastian Münster (1569), 1572.
After the Roman period, in the days of invasion and decadence, the
Christian Church, already established in Gaul since the 1st century
AD, appeared to be the last refuge of classical civilization – it
was remarkably organized and directed by a series of Gallo-Roman
aristocrats. However, when the
Visigoths were accepted in the Roman
Nîmes was included in their territory (472), even after the
Frankish victory at the
Battle of Vouillé
Battle of Vouillé (507). The urban landscape
went through transformation with the Goths, but much of the heritage
of the Roman era remained largely intact.
By 725, the Muslim Umayyads had conquered the whole Visigothic
Septimania including Nîmes. In 736-737, Charles Martel
and his brother led an expedition to
Septimania and Provence, and
largely destroyed the city (in the hands of Umayyads allied with the
local Gallo-Roman and Gothic nobility), including the amphitheatre,
thereafter heading back north. The Muslim government came to an end in
Pepin the Short
Pepin the Short captured the city. In 754, an uprising took
place against the Carolingian king, but was put down and count Radulf,
a Frank, appointed as master of the city. After the war events, Nîmes
was now only a shadow of the opulent Roman city it once had been. The
local authorities installed themselves in the remains of the
Carolingian rule brought relative peace, but feudal times in the 12th
century brought local troubles, which lasted until the days of St.
Louis. During that period
Nîmes was jointly administered by a lay
power resident in the old amphitheatre, where lived the Viguier and
the Knights of the Arena, and the religious power based in the
Bishop's palace complex, around the cathedral, its chapter and the
Bishop's house; meanwhile the city was represented by four Consuls,
who sat in the Maison Carrée.
Despite incessant feudal squabbling,
Nîmes saw some progress both in
commerce and industry as well as in stock-breeding and associated
After the last effort by Raymond VII of Toulouse, St. Louis managed to
establish royal power in the region which became Languedoc. Nîmes
thus entered finally into the hands of the King of France.
Ruins at Nîmes, painting by Hubert Robert.
Period of invasions
During the 14th and 15th centuries the Rhone Valley underwent an
uninterrupted series of invasions which ruined the economy and caused
famine. Customs were forgotten, religious troubles developed (see
French Wars of Religion) and epidemics, all of which affected the
city. Nîmes, which was one of the Protestant strongholds, felt the
full force of repression and fratricidal confrontations (including the
Michelade massacre) which continued until the middle of the 17th
century, adding to the misery of periodic outbreaks of plague.
17th century to the French Revolution
In the middle of the 17th century
Nîmes experienced a period of
prosperity. Population growth caused the town to expand, and slum
housing to be replaced. Also to this period dates the reconstruction
of Notre-Dame-Saint-Castor, the Bishop's palace and numerous mansions
(Hotels). This renaissance strengthened the manufacturing and
industrial vocation of the city, the population rising from 21,000 to
Les Quais de la Fontaine, the embankments of the spring that provided
water for the city, the first civic gardens of France, were laid out
Also in this period the Fountain gardens, the Quais de la Fontaine,
were laid out, the areas surrounding the
Maison Carrée and the
Amphitheatre were cleared of encroachments, whilst the entire
population benefited from the atmosphere of prosperity.
From the French Revolution to the present
Following a European economic crisis that hit
Nîmes with full force,
the Revolutionary period awoke slumbering demons of political and
religious antagonism. The White Terror added to natural calamities and
economic recession, produced murder, pillage and arson until 1815.
Order was however restored in the course of the century, and Nîmes
became the metropolis of Bas-Languedoc, diversifying its industry
towards new kinds of activity. At the same time the surrounding
countryside adapted to market needs and shared in the general increase
During the Second World War, Maquis resistance fighters Jean Robert
and Vinicio Faïta were executed at
Nîmes on 22 April 1943. The
Nîmes marshaling yards were bombed by American bombers in 1944.
The 2º Régiment Étranger d'Infanterie (2ºREI), the main motorised
infantry regiment of the French Foreign Legion, is garrisoned in
Nîmes since 1984.
The Temple of Diana
The Augustan Gate
The Castellum divisorium on the aqueduct
Nîmes is one of the warmest cities in France. The city has a
Mediterranean climate (Köppen: Csa), being wetter than a typical
Mediterranean climate, especially for its moderately rainy summers.
Its slightly inland, southerly location results in hot air over the
city during summer months, temperatures above 34 ºC are common
in July and August, whereas winters are cool but not cold. Night temps
under 0 ºC are common from December to February, while snowfall
occurs every year.
Climate data for
Nîmes (1981–2010 averages, extremes
Record high °C (°F)
Average high °C (°F)
Daily mean °C (°F)
Average low °C (°F)
Record low °C (°F)
Average precipitation mm (inches)
Average precipitation days (≥ 1.0 mm)
Average snowy days
Average relative humidity (%)
Mean monthly sunshine hours
Source #1: Météo France
Source #2: Infoclimat.fr (humidity 1961–1990)
The Jardins de la Fontaine.
Several important remains of the
Roman Empire can still be seen in and
The elliptical Roman amphitheatre, of the 1st or 2nd century AD, is
the best-preserved Roman arena in France. It was filled with medieval
housing, when its walls served as ramparts, but they were cleared
under Napoleon. It is still used as a bull fighting and concert arena.
Maison Carrée (Square House), a small
Roman temple dedicated to
sons of Agrippa was built c. 19 BC. It is one of the best-preserved
Roman temples anywhere. Visitors can watch a short film about the
The 18th-century Jardins de la Fontaine (Gardens of the Fountain)
built around the Roman thermae ruins.
The nearby Pont du Gard, also built by Agrippa, is a well-preserved
aqueduct that used to carry water across the small
The nearby Mont Cavalier is crowned by the Tour Magne ("Great Tower"),
a ruined Roman tower.
Later monuments include:
The cathedral (dedicated to Saint Castor of Apt, a native of the
city), occupying, it is believed, the site of the temple of Augustus,
is partly Romanesque and partly Gothic in style.
The Musée des Beaux-Arts de Nîmes
There is modern architecture at
Nîmes too: Norman Foster conceived
the Carré d'art (1986), a museum of modern art and mediatheque; Jean
Nouvel the Nemausus, a post-modern residential ensemble, and Kisho
Kurokawa a building in the form of a hemicycle to reflect the
Tree-shaded boulevards trace the foundations of its former city walls.
Economy and infrastructure
Nîmes is historically known for its textiles. Denim, the fabric of
blue jeans, derives its name from this city (Serge de Nîmes).
The population of nimes increased from 128,471 in 1990 to 146,709 in
2012, yet the biggest growth the city ever experienced happened in
1968, with a growth of +23.5% compared to 1962.
A pioneering mathematics journal, Annales de Gergonne, was published
Nîmes from 1810 to 1822 by Joseph Gergonne.
51 Nemausa was named after Nîmes, where it was
discovered in 1858.
Two times per year,
Nîmes hosts one of the main French bullfighting
Feria de Nîmes
Feria de Nîmes (festival), and several hundreds of thousands
gather in the streets.
Rammstein filmed their #1 live Album
Völkerball in Nîmes,
and are returning in 2017.
Cévennes Airport serves the city. The Gare de
Nîmes is the central railway station, offering connections to Paris
(high-speed rail), Marseille, Montpellier, Narbonne, Toulouse,
Spain and several regional destinations. The
motorway A9 connects
Nîmes with Orange, Montpellier, Narbonne, and
Perpignan, the A54 with
Arles and Salon-de-Provence.
There are plans to construct a high-speed
TGV line, Contournement
Montpellier with the LGV
Ligue 2 football team
Nîmes Olympique is based in Nîmes.
The local rugby union team is RC Nîmes.
There is a professional volleyball team located here.
Olympic swimming champion
Yannick Agnel was born in Nîmes.
The city hosted the opening stages of the 2017 Vuelta a España
Émile Jourdan, PCF (1965–1983)
Jean Bousquet, UDF (1983–1995)
Alain Clary, PCF (1995–2001)
Jean-Paul Fournier, UMP (since 2001)
See also: List of twin towns and sister cities in France
Nîmes is twinned with:
Preston, United Kingdom, since 1955.
Verona, Italy, since 1960.
Braunschweig, Germany, since 1962.
Prague, Czech Republic, since 1967.
Frankfurt (Oder), Germany, since 1976.
Salamanca, Spain, since 1979.
Rishon LeZion, Israel, since 1986.
Meknes, Morocco, since 2005.
Communes of the
Councils of Nîmes
Feria de Nîmes
List of works by James Pradier
The works of Maxime Real del Sarte
^ Frank Sear (1983). Roman Architecture. Cornell University Press.
p. 213. ISBN 0-8014-9245-9.
^ Trudy Ring; Noelle Watson; Paul Schellinger (28 October 2013).
Northern Europe: International Dictionary of Historic Places. Taylor
& Francis. p. 853. ISBN 978-1-136-63951-7.
^ MobileReference (1 January 2007). Travel Barcelona,
Smartphones and Mobile Devices - City Guide, Phrasebook, and Maps.
MobileReference. p. 428. ISBN 978-1-60501-059-5.
^ Alain Veyrac, "Le symbolisme de l'as de
Nîmes au crocodile"
Archéologie et histoire romaine vol. 1 (1998) (on-line text).
^ The Ancient Languages of Europe - Woodard - Google Books.
^ Colin M. Kraay, "The Chronology of the coinage of Colonia Nemausus",
Numismatic Chronicle 15 (1955), pp. 75-87.
^ "Données climatiques de la station de Nîmes" (in French). Meteo
France. Retrieved January 7, 2016.
^ "Climat Languedoc-Roussillon" (in French). Meteo France. Retrieved
January 7, 2016.
^ "Nimes–Courbessac (30)" (PDF). Fiche Climatologique: Statistiques
1981–2010 et records (in French). Meteo France. Archived from the
original (PDF) on 30 March 2018. Retrieved 30 March 2018.
^ "Normes et records 1961-1990: Nimes-Courbessac (30) - altitude 59m"
(in French). Infoclimat. Archived from the original on March 3, 2016.
Retrieved January 7, 2016.
^ Giving rise to the example of rime richissime Gall, amant de la
Reine, alla (tour magnanime)/ Gallament de l'Arène a la Tour Magne,
à Nîmes, or "Gall, lover opf the Queen, passed (magnanimous
gesture), gallantly from the Arena to the Tour Magne at Nîmes".
^ "Railway Gazette: Southern LGV projects make progress". Retrieved 14
^ "British towns twinned with French towns". Archant Community Media
Ltd. Retrieved 2013-07-11.
^ "Braunschweigs Partner und Freundschaftsstädte" [
Partner and Friendship Cities]. Stadt
Braunschweig [City of
Braunschweig] (in German). Archived from the original on 2012-12-01.
See also: Bibliography of the history of Nîmes
"Nismes", A Handbook for Travellers in
France (8th ed.), London: J.
"Nimes", The Encyclopædia Britannica (11th ed.), New York:
Encyclopædia Britannica, 1910, OCLC 14782424
"Nimes", Southern France, including Corsica (6th ed.), Leipzig:
Wikimedia Commons has media related to Nîmes.
Wikivoyage has a travel guide for Nîmes.
2° Régiment étranger d'infanterie
Practical Guide to
City council website
The official Web site of Roman Nîmes
Images of Roman remains of Nîmes
Photogallery of Nîmes
Regordane Info – The independent portal for The Regordane Way or St
Gilles Trail The Regordane passes through Nîmes. (in English and
Communes of the
Prefectures of departments of France
La Rochelle (Charente-Maritime)
Le Puy-en-Velay (Haute-Loire)
Le Mans (Sarthe)
La Roche-sur-Yon (Vendée)
Belfort (Territoire de Belfort)
Cayenne (French Guiana)
ISNI: 0000 0001 1172 3747