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  • Writer's pictureJen Williams

5 Reasons to Visit the Festival de Nîmes

Updated: Dec 3, 2019

In July, a friend and I decided to go and see Slipknot perform as part of the Festival de Nîmes, a renowned music festival held in the south of France. Although I had heard of the festival before, I hadn’t given it too much thought before we planned this trip, and I also knew very little about its host city of Nîmes, apart from how to get there!

While I was mostly looking forward to this trip to see one of my favourite bands play in a really awesome and unique venue, Nîmes completely won me over during the two days we spent there. Overall, the experience was one I really enjoyed, and would definitely recommend to my fellow gig and festival lovers! I’ve compiled five reasons why you should plan a trip to enjoy the Festival de Nîmes.

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Reason one… because of the eclectic mix of artists

One of the first things you will discover when googling the Festival de Nîmes is its diverse range of artists! The 2019 festival alone featured Elton John, Slipknot, Slash & Myles Kennedy, ZZ Top, Toto, and Twenty One Pilots, to name but a few!

Previous years have included Marilyn Manson, Lenny Kravitz, Jamiroquai, System of a Down, Skrillex, Pharrell, Massive Attack, Stevie Wonder, Metallica, Alicia Keys, and Daft Punk - amongst many others - so there is truly something for everyone.

The festival spans a period of a month across June and July, with concerts taking place during a few evenings every week, so it makes most sense to visit the festival for maybe one or two artists, depending on when they perform. A perfect opportunity to explore the city during the daytime and enjoy the music in the evening!

Reason two… because Nîmes is gorgeous

Roman cities, with a central “old town”, winding streets and gorgeous architecture, are exactly my thing, and I loved Nîmes from the moment I set eyes on it. Europe was experiencing a massive heat wave while we were in Nîmes, reaching almost 40ºC during the day, so I crammed in much of my exploring during the cooler mornings. Apparently, Nîmes is one of the hottest cities in France as it is!

Check out these photos of this beautiful city - I’ll definitely be bringing you more Nîmes-related articles in the near future!

Photos from around the French city of Nimes
Photos of Nîmes' old town, La Maison Carrée, and Le Jardin de la Fontaine

Reason three… because it is easy to get to

Writing this from a UK perspective, we are so lucky to have the whole of Europe on our doorstep, something I know I take for granted all the time. Travelling to Nîmes, if anything, can be easier than travelling across the UK itself!

Coming from south London, we flew with EasyJet from London Gatwick to Montpellier, which is a 40-minute train ride from Nîmes, and was very easy to navigate. Nîmes also has its own airport which provides direct flights to and from Luton with RyanAir. Marseille is also not too far away, and from there you can reach Nîmes via a two-hour train ride with a change in Avignon.

The concourse at Montpellier-Saint-Roch station
Montpellier-Saint-Roch Station

Reason four… because accommodation is affordable

Even during the festival, we managed to find accommodation that wasn’t mega expensive (like I had somewhat anticipated), and less than ten minutes’ walk from the arena and the city centre!

Accommodation prices were elevated during the festival, unsurprisingly, but the Airbnb we booked cost us £130 for two nights (so £65/night or £65pp), including cleaning, servicing and taxes. We also booked it less than two months in advance, which I would consider relatively short notice. This gave us a perfectly adequate apartment with one bedroom and one sofa bed, as well as a kitchen, sizeable bathroom, and air conditioning. I’m sure there are other similar apartments in Nîmes as well.

House in Nimes, France
Our Airbnb

Reason five… because you will experience live music in the most amazing venue

It’s honestly difficult for me to say whether I went to Nîmes more for the band I was seeing, or for the venue in which I was seeing them. The Arènes de Nîmes is truly magnificent - essentially Nîmes’ very own Colosseum, but without the hype and excessive number of tourists. (Seriously, I enjoyed the experience of visiting the arena FAR more than the Colosseum in Rome!)

While we waited for Slipknot to take the stage, I couldn’t resist running around the arena and taking photos of the gorgeous arches, the stairwells, the walkways around the arena etc, all while the sun was setting, too. You can visit and tour the arena during the daytime (up until 2pm (ish) on concert days), which I wish I had done, but I certainly had a far more unique experience of this 2000-year-old building!

Arènes de Nîmes
Shots of and in the Arènes de Nîmes

The arena now holds around 13,000 spectators; as not all the seats were utilised for the gig, Slipknot may have had an audience of around 10,000. The concert itself was amazing - of course it helps when the artist you’re seeing knows how to put on a show, but I couldn’t get over how cool it was to be sat in such a venue. I kept thinking it was crazy that people once watched bull and gladiator fights here, and now here I was, watching a nine-piece metal act perform Psychosocial for the whole of Nîmes to hear!

Slipknot concert at the Nimes Arena
The view from our seats within the arena before the show


For those of you discovering Nîmes and its festival for the first time, I hope this has given you a taste of what it’s like, and maybe inspired you to look into it further. I love short getaways to gorgeous cities, but the Festival de Nîmes could easily be incorporated into a longer trip to the south of France, or even a European Interrail trip (which I’d still love to do!).

Thank you so much for reading this week’s article - as always, comments and shares are always appreciated, and don’t forget to subscribe to my mailing list to be notified of my future posts!

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