The Gothic city of Montpellier may get all of the glory, but just an hour northeast, the humble Gard capital of Nimes offers a delightful detour with some of the best Roman remains in France.

When to go

Temperatures hit their peak in July and August, but so do tourist numbers. Our suggestion? Take a trip in spring (mid-April to mid-June) to get the good weather without the crowds.

What to do

Nimes' Roman amphitheatre is 2000 years old but it doesn't look a day over 1000. Large enough to seat an impressive 24,000, the ancient structure originally hosted gladiatorial battles but is now home to considerably more civilised events such as concerts and celebrations.

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Where to eat

No reservation? No problem at the charming L'Harmonie. In the centre of the city, this popular spot ticks all of the boxes with outstanding lunch and dinner menus, top-notch service and staff who won't bat an eye at your questionable pronunciation.

Expect hearty local dishes like duck fillet, braised beef, rich risottos and, of course, countless cheeses.

Where to drink

There is nothing worse than wandering into a pub filled with fellow travellers looking for an authentic slice of local life. Lucky for you, Le Pelican is the exact opposite. Beloved by both locals and French holiday-makers, this little pub welcomes couples, families or anyone with a love of live music and funky neon signs.

Where to walk

The tree-lined city may be a delight to walk through, but the 18th-century Jardins de la Fontaine take greenery to another level. Opened in 1745 as one of Europe's first public parks, the garden is an oasis of trees, canals, Roman monuments and staircases.

What to try

In 1775 the Villaret family started selling their take on the French "croquant" biscuit, and rumour has it the secret recipe has never changed. French for "crispy", a croquant is a thin golden cookie made from caramelised sugar, almonds and in the city of Nimes, a delicious mix of orange blossom and lemon. But don't take our word for it, Maison Villaret is still open for business on 13 Rue de la Madeleine.

Where to shop

Want a wearable token from your trip? Les Indiennes de Nimes sells the clothes and textiles for which the ancient city is famous. Right beside the amphitheatre, the quaint speciality store is full of vividly patterned treasures that are sure to turn heads back home.

Where to stay

For a hotel that is grand and central, Appart'City Nimes Arenes is the perfect spot. The four-star hotel mixes classic French style with modern luxuries; the traditional refurbished building houses a bar, sauna and gym, and each room has a kitchenette.

Off the map

Whether you're fascinated or infuriated by the savagery of bullfights, the Bull Museum is a gem well worth a visit. Deeply involved in the history of Nimes, bullfights continue throughout the summer, with the Bull Museum offering an insightful look into the styles and cultural significance.

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