Meeting Your Trip in NIMES - 2016
On this page, you will find information about meeting your trip in Nimes. Topics include...
We suggest that you print these pages out, and bring a copy with you to your trip.
When and Where:
In Nimes, on Sunday morning between 9 and 10a, at our “usual hotel” (the one on the trip's hotel list), even if you are staying somewhere else, or arriving by the overnight train. Your Coordinator will materialize at breakfast by then.
Nimes is a mid-sized city just north of the Mediterranean, a 3-hour ride south of Paris on the high-speed TGV.
Included in Your Access Package, if you subscribed to it:
A train ticket to Nimes, as well as a detailed timetable of the train for which you are reserved.
If you are arriving in Nimes via a Saturday daylight train, a hotel room in Nimes is also included. If you are arriving via an overnight train, a couchette berth is included on board the train.
Travel Documents will be supplied by our Paris office, unless you are arriving via a different route, in which case they will be sent to you at home, prior to your departure. You will receive either a train ticket, or a railpass with accompanying explanation regarding its use, and a schedule for the train that you have reserved.
Getting to the Trip
The following routings are described. Information on getting to your hotel from the Nimes station is offered at the start of the next section, “Practical Information.”
Trains from Paris require reservations. If you are arriving via this route you should have requested a reservation on a specific train from us. Your tickets will be waiting for you in our Paris office (opening hours), or will have been sent to you as pdf's, or by post. If you must make alternate arrangements, please call the Paris office at least 48 hours in advance (or e-mail at firstname.lastname@example.org).
All daylight trains depart from the Gare de Lyon, and offer café / bar service.
From Paris’ Charles de Gaulle Airport.
Trains from Charles de Gaulle airport require reservations. If you are arriving via this route you will have given us a travel schedule, and we will have provided you with an appropriate train reservation.
The railway station is located in terminal 2, to the right as you come out from the transit zone and into the concourse if you are arriving via terminal 2A, 2C or 2F; to the left if you are in 2B, 2D or 2E. (If you land at terminal 1 or 3, you must take a people mover to reach the station).
Some trains from the airport to Nimes require that you change trains in either Lyon or Valence. Study your reservations carefully to see if this is your case (the connection point, with arrival and departure times, and the number of the connecting train, will be on your reservation coupon).
A café / bar service is available on all trains.
From Geneva Airport
You must first take a train to the downtown Geneva station. Any train departing the airport rail station will go there: simply get off at the first stop.
When you reach the downtown Geneva station, your connecting train to France will depart from track 7 or 8 (these tracks are on opposite sides of the same platform). There is a single direct train to Nimes, currently scheduled at about 2p (reservation required). Otherwise, ask at the information counter for details of the next connecting service, via Lyon, or Valence. If you must change trains in Lyon, know that Lyon has two stations. Be sure to detrain at the first of these, the “Part-Dieu” station. Your connection to Nimes will depart from Part-Dieu.
Take the airport bus to the downtown rail station, and ask at information for the next train to Nimes. To make this trip, you will need to connect in Marseille (2 hours away) or Avignon (3 hours away).
Trains on this line are easy to use: a few can even be boarded without advance seat reservations. Most require that you make a seat reservation, however. If this is the case for the next departing service, simply go to the ticket window and make a reservation (there will be space available, even at the last minute, since even on crowded days, these trains do not fill up until they get farther north. SHOW THE AGENT YOUR TICKET OR RAILPASS WHEN YOU MAKE THE RESERVATION. If you fail to do so, the agent will sell you a whole new ticket, in addition to a reservation. In all, your reservation should cost you no more than 10€. If it costs more, a mistake is being made.
A couple of hints about the ride: try to sit on the left hand side of the train (as you face direction of travel) for better views. Also, if you are not connecting in Marseille, do not be alarmed when your train reverses direction after stopping there. This is normal: Marseille is a “stub-end” station, and all trains are obligated to reverse direction to continue their routes. It does not mean that you are headed back where you came from.
From Barcelona Airport to the City Center, and to “Sants” Station
Barcelona airport is served by an airport train, which operates directly to the “Sants” railroad station every thirty minutes. A covered walkway leads to the trains from the national terminal, but assuming you land at the international terminal you first have to walk the 100 yards necessary to get to the national terminal. Follow train pictograms.
Buy your ticket to Sants station (station is “estación” in Castillian Spanish “estacio” in Catalan). Advance purchase machines only speak Spanish (or Catalan) and only take €uros, but you can probably figure them out. If we have sent you a railpass which you are validating for travel today (see the pass use document sent with the pass to understand what this means), it is valid for your ride on the airport train.
Trip time to the downtown Sants station is 20 minutes. Pay attention to the train’s progress, since it does not terminate at the Sants station, and so you could miss your stop. Watch carefully whenever you go underground: the Sants station is underground, and huge, with 20 tracks. It is generally the third stop after leaving the airport.
From Barcelona to Nimes
There are several trains a day from Barcelona to Nimes.
All services require seat reservations. If you do not have time to wait at the Barcelona ticket window for a reservation, or are told that the train is full (it is not) you may take a series of local trains along the coast, which will get you to Nimes in many hours, but will get you there.
If you do have time to make a reservation, go to the long distance ticket windows (“Larga Recorrida”), priority (“salida immediata”), and make one. If you already have a ticket or a railpass, SHOW IT TO THE AGENT. If you fail to do so, he will sell you a new ticket, in addition to your reservation. In all, your reservation should cost you about 20€ in 2nd class, 35€ in first. If it costs more, a mistake is being made.
If you must change trains in Montpellier, it is about 2 and 1/2 hours from Barcelona. From Montpellier, you will have a further 25 minute trip to Nimes. If you miss this connection while you are trying to figure it out, don’t worry: there are frequent trains from Montpellier to Nimes. Reservations are theoretically necessary for some trains on this ride (TGV’s), but no one will check your ticket during this short segment, so it does not matter whether you were able to get one or not when you booked your passage in Spain. So long as your ticket is good to Nimes, very few conductors / guards would really get worked up over your lack of a reservation.
Finding Your Hotel.
Our hotel is often the Majestic Hotel, at number 10, rue Pradier. Take the broad boulevard leading away from the station (avenue Feuchères). Make the second right turn off this boulevard, down a small street. Turn left at the end of the block. The hotel is one more block away, on the far right-hand corner.
If you are at the
Hôtel de Provence, it is at 5, square de la Couronne. To get there from the station, walk out of the station building via the main entrance. A broad boulevard leads away in front of you, perpendicular to the station building (“Avenue Feucheres”). Take this to its end, the equivalent of about 3 city blocks. You are now facing a large, grassy plaza. Skirt the plaza to the right, following traffic. Shortly, you will come to a little square on the right side of the street. The Hôtel de Provence is in the back-left corner of this square.
If you are at the Hotel Marquis de la Baume, follow the instructions for the Hôtel de Provence, but ignore the little square on the right side of the street. Instead, keep walking, along the main boulevard, now on the Boulevard Amiral Courbet. In about 4 blocks (counting on the left, and depending on how you see the alleys), you will come to rue Nationale. Turn left. The hotel is at number 21, a couple of blocks forward.
If you are at the Hôtel César, it is across the street from the station, at number 17, avenue Feuchères.
Arriving in Nimes with Your Bike
At the Majestic, the bikes go in a courtyard, the door to which is to the right as you enter the hotel, just before you reach the reception desk. Sometimes, the owner has us put them instead in a garage across the street (be sure to lock yours in this case). At the others, ask at reception.
Coin-operated laundry facilities are available, should you need them. Ask at the hotel reception.
Combatting Jet Lag
Trips starting with our Provence itinerary assemble on Sunday morning, but if you arrive via a Saturday train from Paris we will have reserved a hotel room for you. If you have just landed from North America, we strongly suggest that you not use that hotel room, at least until 11p or so, since even a short nap when you arrive will ensure that you are wide awake and raring to go between 2 and 6a for the next couple of days.
Getting Advance Information on Tomorrow's Ride, Contacting Your Coordinator
Tomorrow’s route sheets (the daily documents we distribute to describe that day's route) will be available this evening if we arranged your hotel room in Nimes. They will hopefully be placed in your room’s mailbox at reception by your harried, but smiling, coordinator. He will typically spend the night at the trip's “usual” hotel, and you can leave a note for him there if you need to reach him in advance for any reason.
What to do With Your Time in Nimes
Regardless of your arrival route, the following offers hints on enjoying your time in Nimes.
Introduction to Nimes
Nimes is interesting, and tomorrow you will not have time to visit much without giving up something else. We thus recommend that you use today for a walk around the old town, and especially to gawk at the remarkable Roman arena, just a couple of blocks from our hotels.
Nimes is the center of French bullfighting and Gard cuisine, the proud owner of the remarkable traces of a Roman past, and today a pretty and agreeable town. If you rented your cycle paniers from us, this is where they were manufactured.
The city’s history really began when Roman Emperor Augustus distributed the land around Nimes to his officers as reward for their victory over Anthony and Cleopatra in Egypt. Hence Nimes’ symbol still today: a chained crocodile. It attained its apogee in the 2nd century AD, but has remained an important center since. The Academie de Nimes is France’s best in the fields of archeology and ancient history.
By any measure, these start with the Roman Arena, among the best conserved in the world. There is not really much to see about a Roman Arena… any more than there is much to see about a football stadium. But a 2,000-year-old football stadium would be worthy of interest in its own right. This one has gone through a lot in its long life: it was a Visigoth fortress, and home to a makeshift slum village whose population ranged up to 2,000 people in the Middle Ages. Now it is Nimes’ bull ring, seating 20,000 for the most important bullfights staged in France. Walk around the perimeter and marvel at the idea of what the building must have seen.
Fans of Roman stones will also want to glance at the bizarrely-named “maison carrée” (“square house”), a beautifully conserved Roman Temple a few blocks beyond the Arena. Past uses for this have included stable, church, town hall, and private home. It served as city offices into the 1970’s! Colbert wanted to take it apart stone by stone and rebuild it in the gardens of Versailles. You may notice that the columns are spaced slightly differently: a constructor’s artifice to avoid monotony.
Apart from the Roman ruins, of which the above are only a sampling, the picturesque old town comprises Nimes’ principle interest. The narrow, pedestrian streets crowded around the cathedral are fun to wander through, especially before shops close on Saturday.
Saturday Dinner Options
There is plenty of variety to Nimes eateries, and you may just wander until you find something that suits you, as a way of getting to know the town. If it is late, however, and you want to be seated and supplied with wine before it is TOO LATE, you may prefer to follow one of our suggestions. Prices are those that were in effect in 2012.
Easiest options: walk along the Boulevard Amiral Courbet (the boulevard that passes by the far end of the square where the Hotel de Provence lives). This is the best bet if you are trying to find a late dinner. Lined with every type of restaurant from fast food, through Italian and Chinese, to the traditional French brasserie. The cheapest brasserie (circa 17€) may be the “Industrie,” just before O’Flaherty’s Irish Pub. If you would like the local gastronomic experience, try “Nicolas,” on the rue Poise. This street goes off to the left a couple of blocks up the Boulevard Amiral Courbet (starting from the Provence). “Nicolas” is one door in, on the right. They offer typical fare of the Gard region, which is where you are for tonight and tonight only. Their least expensive menu is 18€, and the local house wines are fine and inexpensive. If they are full, try the “Fontaine du Temple,” one block further along the boulevard, also on a little street going off to the left (visible from the boulevard). “Nicolas:” 04.66.67.50.47, “Fontaine du Temple:” 04.66.67.50.47.
If you have more time: head into the heart of the old town, around and to the north of the Place du Marché. There are another 10 restaurants here, Italian, French of different sorts, a pleasant crêperie… Look over the ones on the narrow street that passes under the archway to the north of the square.
For a bit of adventure: a fascinating wine bar, with interesting and creative food, is the Restaurant des Olivades, at 18 rue Jean Reboul (a little street at the back corner of the Roman Arena). Reservations are absolutely required on a Saturday night, and no group of more than 6 (8 theoretical maximum) is possible. 04.66.21.71.78.