Nîmes in the Languedoc-Roussillon region in the south of France

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.

Pont du Gard is an old Roman aqueduct near Nimes in Southern France

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