Nîmes, Languedoc-Roussillon

Gerry Patterson has this guide to cycling in Nîmes in the Languedoc-Roussillon region in the south of France.

The Roman aqueduct, Pont du Gard, near Nîmes. Photo: Gerry Patterson

The Roman aqueduct, Pont du Gard, near Nîmes. Photo: Gerry Patterson

Nîmes, Montpellier’s laid-back little sister, may lack in excitement, but it more than makes up for it in historical importance. Nîmes came to prominence over 2,000 years ago, first as a colony of Rome, and later the capital of the province of Narbonne. The city was on the Via Domitia, a Roman road that linked Italy with Spain (and spans the whole length on modern day Languedoc-Roussillon), and rose to glory under Emperor Augustus, who built the ramparts, Pont du Gard, and the Maison Carrée (all of which can still be seen today). There is also an outstanding amphitheatre, as well as other vestiges, from the Roman era.

Nîmes makes a good base or starting point for a cycling holiday, since it is right on the doorstep of Provence and less than three hours by train from Paris. The giant and impressive Pont du Gard is only 30km from the city by bike, and the pink flamingos of the Camargue are an equal distance to the south.

Although the cycling outside the city is excellent, Nîmes is no dream when it comes to riding within the town limits. In and around the historic centre there are virtually no cycling lanes and those that exist may stop without notice. The newer areas of the city are much better, but there is little reason to be there, unless you need to do some shopping. However, there ate plans to iincrease the number of cycling paths/lanes in the city, so all this could change in the future. There is no public bike hire scheme on the city and that probably makes sense, since the infrastructure is simply not there.

There are several bike shops in Nîmes. Cycles Passieu, 2 place Montcalm (near the amphitheatre) and has a good range of gear and high-end bikes. For cycle hire in Nîmes, see our listings page.

Check here for links to accommodation in France, including hotels, gîtes, gîtes d’étapes, B&Bs, self-catered and campsite options.

For general tourist advice, see the Lonely Planet guide to Languedoc-Roussillon.

See also Gerry's overview of cycling Languedoc-Roussillon, as well as his suggestions for themed rides in Languedoc-Roussillon. He has also written guides to Montpellier, Narbonne and Perpignan.

Gerry Patterson lives in Nîmes with his wife, Shoko. When not updating his cycling blog and adding routes to his cycling website, he can be seen – you guessed it – cycling around Languedoc-Roussillon, searching out new and interesting rides.

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