Stage town for the 19th time
Prefecture of Gard
Population: 154,300 (Nîmes residents), and 258,000 in the 39 communes of Nîmes Métropole.
Personalities: Antonin the Pious (1st Roman emperor), Guillaume Apollinaire, Antoine Bigot (poets). Alphonse Daudet (writer), Jean Paulhan (academician), Jean-Paul Rabaut Saint Etienne (politician, author of article 7 of the declaration of human rights), André Chamson (academician), Jean Bousquet (president of Cacharel and former deputy-mayor), Gaston Doumergue (president of the Republic). Claude Viallat (painter), Simon Casas (writer, bullfighter), Bernadette Lafont (actress), Régine Crespin (singer), Marguerite Long (pianist), Julien Doré (singer), Aimé Maeght (gallery owner). Alain Montcouquiol alias Nimeño I and his brother Christian Nimeño II (bullfighters), Marie Sara and Léa Vicens (bullfighters), Yannick Agnel (swimming, Olympic champion), Virginie Razzano (tennis), Ludivine Furnon (gymnast, European champion).
Specialities: brandade of Nîmes, Villaret croquants (dry cakes), picholine (green olive AOC), olive oil from Nîmes (AOC), small Nîmes pâtés, gariguettes of Nîmes (strawberries), Costières de Nîmes (AOC wine). Jeans originate from Nîmes (Denim).
Sport: 36,000 members, more than 260 sports associations, 60 disciplines practised including 2 emblematic sports: handball (USAM) and football (Nîmes Olympique in L1). Events: international archery competition (January 2019), Nîmes Urban Trail (February, 3rd edition), Nîmes half-marathon (March), La Nocturne (October, walking race). Cycling clubs: Nîmes cyclisme, Espoir Cycliste Nîmois, Groupe Cyclo Nîmois.
Economy: Tourism (1.8 million visitors in the city centre for the 2018 season), biotechnology basin (research on molecules and their applications to medicine and genetics), logistics (Prodis and Logidis), industry (Perrier, Royal Canin, Salins du Midi, Souleiado), Nîmes Camargue airport, France's leading THD territory for businesses. Universities: 13,600 students.
Festivals: Two ferias (Pentecost and Vendanges,1 million visitors in 2018), Flamenco Festival at the Nîmes Theatre (January), Biography Festival (January), British Screen Festival (March), RDV en Terre d'Aficion (March, bullfighting shows), Biennale de la BD (March), Grand Roman Games (May), Nimes Festival in the Nimes amphitheatre (June-July), Les Jeudis de Nîmes (July-August, concerts, entertainment, etc.), Nîmes Open Game Art (July-August). ), Nîmes Open Game Art (December, video games and digital arts)
Signature: Nîmes, the city with an accent
Labels: City of Art and History / City in bloom with 4 flowers / National tree award / 5@ Internet city / Child-friendly city / WHO health city / Vivez-Bougez city / Marianne d'Or for sustainable development / Tourist office classified as First Category / 2nd prize in the 2018 Light competition / Active and sporty city 2017-2018 / National bio +1 label / Application file for UNESCO world heritage listing in 2020
Websites / social networks: www.nimes.fr / www.nimes-tourisme.com / www.laboucleromaine.fr / vivrenimes.fr / Facebook : @ville2nimes / Twitter: @nimes / Instagram : ville_de_nimes / You tube : ville de nimes
Museum of Romanity
The largest cultural project in the Occitanie region, opened in 2018, offers a permanent collection, a temporary exhibition space, a 3,500 m2 archaeological garden and a restaurant with a planted terrace, offering a 360° panoramic view. The museum welcomed 160,000 visitors in the six months following its opening, which is the equivalent of one year's attendance. Jean-Paul Fournier, mayor of Nîmes, is behind this initiative, which follows the discovery of some very rare mosaics during excavations on the Allées Jaurès. This museum offers a permanent collection of 5,000 pieces, including the mosaics of Achilles and Pentheus. It offers a unique experience for a journey back in time through the history of Nîmes, from the 7th century BC to the Middle Ages, through a very innovative museography and an immersive scenography (augmented reality, monumental audiovisual technologies...). At the entrance, a spectacular remnant of a propylaeum pediment, entirely reconstituted and restored, placed 15 metres above the ground, symbolises the entrance to the sanctuary of the spring that gave birth to the town. It is the entrance to the museum and the archaeological garden.
NÎMES AND CYCLING
The 18 stages of the Tour de France to finish in Nîmes often favoured sprinters, and this was again the case in 2019, during the race's last visit. Caleb Ewan won his second stage victory in the Grande Boucle there, following his victory in Toulouse five days earlier.
In 2014, near the Costières stadium, Norwegian rider Alexander Kristoff won the stage in the final, beating a peloton that had just swallowed up New Zealander Jack Bauer, who had escaped from the start. 2008 saw the revelation on the Tour of the extraordinary talent of the Isle of Man's Mark Cavendish. The British rider with 30 stage victories in the Grande Boucle won his fourth and last stage victory in Nîmes, which he would abandon two days later as he approached the Alps. That day, "Cav" had won ahead of Australian Robbie McEwen and Frenchman Romain Feillu.
After 17 years without hosting a finish, Nîmes was used as a rest stage during the 2003 Tour, the centenary year. The following year, it saw Spaniard Aitor Gonzalez win. One of the very first passages through the town, in 1904, remains famous: unhappy with the disqualification of their favourite, Ferdinand Payan, Nîmes fans had welcomed the peloton with stones! But the most beautiful legend of the Tour forged in Nîmes was that of Abdel-Kader Zaaf, who broke clear with Marcel Molinès and who, after a crash, set off again in the opposite direction of the race. It was said that he had accepted a flask of wine handed to him by the spectators. The reality is certainly more prosaic and the products ingested by the future red lantern of the Tour less natural.
The town was also a frequent stage for the now defunct Grand Prix du Midi Libre and the season-opening Etoile de Bessèges. In 2017, the bullring arena was the scene of a particularly successful Grand Départ of the Vuelta.
Dating from the 1st century BC, it is one of the best-preserved Roman amphitheatres in the world. The Nîmes Arena is a perfect example of the degree of perfection achieved by Roman engineers in the design and construction of this type of highly complex building. Indeed, it is perfectly symmetrical. Oval in shape, it is 133 metres long and 101 metres wide with a track measuring 68 by 38 metres. Measuring 21 metres high, its exterior façade is two-storey with 60 superimposed arcades and an attic, separated by a cornice. At the top, projecting stones with holes in them held masts to which a velum was attached, a huge canvas spread over the spectators to protect them from the sun and bad weather. Originally, all the arcades on the ground floor were open to serve as entrances or exits.
Today, the bullring is the heart of the Nîmes ferias, where bullfights bring together thousands of aficionados. In 2017, they were the setting for the Grand Départ of the Vuelta. The BMC team won the team time trial that preceded the race, handing the leader's jersey to Rohan Dennis.
La Maison Carrée (The Square House)
Dating from the 1st century BC, dedicated to Caius and Lucius Caesar, grandson and adopted son of the emperor Augustus, it is the only fully preserved temple in the ancient world. Inspired by the temples of Apollo and Mars Ultor in Rome, the Square House seduces by the harmony of its proportions. It is 26 metres long, 15 metres wide and 17 metres high. It is one of the expressions of the new power set up by Augustus. Around him, an imperial family is ordered and places of manifestation and expression of public authority are established. Monuments, inscriptions, statues and portraits, elements of architectural decoration, each describe, in their own language, the action and future of the new regime.
The Maison Carrée owes its exceptional state of preservation to its uninterrupted use since the 11th century. It was in turn a consular house, a stable, a flat and a church. After the French Revolution, it became the seat of the first prefecture of Gard and was then converted into the departmental archives.
Gardens of the Fountain
Situated on a hill, the gardens of the Fountain were created on a historical and natural site of 15 hectares. The first public garden in Europe, it is composed of two landscaped architectures: a classical 18th century garden and a Mediterranean landscape garden.
Its creation began in 1745. At the request of the King of France, Louis XV, Jacques Philippe Mareschal (King's engineer, Director of the fortifications of the Languedoc provinces) designed it. The initial project with several terraces was never finalised.
At the beginning of the 19th century, the mayor Augustin Cavalier began to develop the hill and gave it its name. Paths were laid out allowing walkers to discover different settings such as the rocky cave. At the end of these paths, a remarkable monument dominates the garden: the Tour Magne (The Great Tower). Since then, many areas have been created to enrich this place, such as the rock garden, a clever mixture of rocks and Mediterranean plants, the Montgolfier basin with its aquatic plants, the mazet garden.
The Magne Tower
Octagonal, the highest and most prestigious of the towers of the Augustan Roman enclosure consisted of three levels above a base. Today, the last floor has disappeared and it stands at 32 m. The Tour Magne, i.e. the Great Tower, is the only vestige of the ancient Augustan wall. It stands on the highest point of the city, the Mont Cavalier, dominating the whole plain and attracting the communication routes towards it.
Carré d'Art Jean Bousquet
A contemporary temple facing the ancient temple, Carré d'Art Jean Bousquet was designed by Lord Norman Foster. Bringing together on the same site a library, a media library and a museum of contemporary art, it is like the Centre Pompidou.
With nearly 400 works, the collection of Carré d'Art offers a panorama of contemporary creation from the sixties to today. Every year, temporary exhibitions of international level are organized on the second floor of the museum.
On the first level, the permanent collection gathers the trends that originated in the South of France or in Europe. These movements correspond to three orientations: art in France, Mediterranean identity and the art of Anglo-Saxon countries.
Brandade is a speciality of Nîmes made from cod or, more precisely, hake, which was the name given to salted and dried hake, a fish caught in the Mediterranean, before becoming the local name for cod.
The story goes that a woman from Nîmes had the idea of grinding the cod meat in a stone mortar, diluting it and mixing it with the fragrant oil of the surrounding garrigues. This new dish was called brandade, from the word brandado, which means "stirred" in Provençal. Brandade was first mentioned in 1788 in the Encyclopédie méthodique. It states that hake are cut into pieces and put in a pan with finely chopped garlic. Oil is added little by little, which "should bind with the garlic paste and the fish".
It would be an overstatement to speak of "terroir" for brandade... although it is true! The brandade was born from the meeting of three ingredients that could only be found in Nîmes: sea salt harvested fifty kilometres away, local hake later replaced by cod, and olive oil, which is abundant here. It also undoubtedly owes its success to the social structure of this industrious town from the 17th to the 19th century when the recipe was popularised.