Jardins Secrets

Nimes, Provence, France Book from

Reviewed by Tom Bell
Grand 18th-century townhouse with succulent gardens, a shimmering pool and sparkling rooms, right on the doorstep of historic Nîmes
Step off a city street and enter an enchanted garden. There’s a banana tree in the corner, oranges and lemons grow in another. Bougainvillea streaks across the walls, a shield of bamboo shuts out the world beyond. Flanked by crisply dressed loungers and stone urns, the salt-water pool is shaded at one end by olive branches, fat with fruit; you can pick and swim and eat at the same time. Breakfast in the shade at wooden tables on a brick terrace; at night lanterns illuminate garden and pool.

As for the interior, it's luxury to the power ten: cavernous claw-foot baths, enormous beds wrapped in the crispest linen, gilt-framed mirrors and chandeliers in the bathrooms. Murals, four salons, a sweeping staircase, oils on the walls, smouldering logs, a baby grand piano, Toile de Jouy fabrics, Farrow and Ball paints, marble fireplaces. Opulent colours overflow in four high-ceilinged bedrooms overlooking the garden, while smartly-painted green shutters keep the morning light at bay.


  • Nîmes is packed with history, and it’s only a 5 minutes’ walk to the perfectly preserved Roman temple and amphitheatre
  • Lush, peaceful garden with a cool pool
  • Wildly opulent interiors and bedrooms with an incredible attention to detail
  • It radiates history and grandeur, and makes an incredibly romantic bolthole
  • Generous charming hosts who provide perfect, discreet service


  • It’s small and often full, so it’s worth booking ahead in the summer months
  • Breakfast and light meals are pricey, but are delicious
  • The train station is 500m away; occasionally you hear a train pass
  • Some find the rooms to be a little dark and stuffy

Best time to go

Nimes is an all-year city, but it's extra hot and extra busy in July and August.

Our top tips

Take a trip out of town to Pont du Gard. It’s a staggering, World-Heritage-listed Roman aqueduct that spans a gorge so high (over 40m) that it had to be built over three levels. Your jaw will drop. Loop back down the Gorges du Gardon, stopping off to walk, swim in water holes, ride on horseback or mountain bike, or to kayak - all wild and wonderful stuff.

Great for...

City Style
  • = Recommended
  • = Best in region
  • = World favourite
  • Boutique Hotel
  • 14
  • Breakfast (+ walk to off-site restaurants)
  • All ages welcome
  • Open all year
  • Outdoor Pool
  • Spa
  • WiFi
  • Pet Friendly
  • Disabled Access
  • Beach Nearby
  • Off-street Parking
  • Restaurants Nearby
  • Air Conditioning
  • Guest Lounge
  • Terrace
  • Garden
  • Gym
  • Bicycles Available
Room: Deluxe Madame


The effervescent style and scale of the 14 rooms and suites is quite something; sparkling 18th-century elegance flows throughout, the different between them is size. Colours are regal: reds, greens, golds and blues.

Big beds come smartly attired with pure white cotton, woollen blankets and quilted bedcovers. Fling open the windows and you feel you can reach out and touch the tops of olive trees. Bathrooms are exquisite: expect the deepest claw-foot baths with big fat cymbal shower heads above, thick white towels and bathrobes, and, of course, the obligatory chandelier.

One of the huge Deluxe rooms has murals on the wall, a walnut armoire, a wood and marble floor and 19th-century radiators. High ceilings, soft light, and a lavish embroidered elegance throughout. You'll find candles in the garden, draped crowns above the bed, sweeping curtains, crystal wall lights and bowls of dried roses. The 2 Standard rooms are smaller, but far from small. One has toile de Jouy fabrics on the curtains and polished wood floors.

Features include:

  • Air conditioning
  • Bathrobes
  • Central heating
  • Cots Available
  • Extra beds
  • Hairdryer
  • Hypoallergenic bedding
  • Phone
  • Safe box
  • Satellite tv
  • Slippers
  • Toiletries
  • Wake-up service
  • WiFi
  • Wifi internet


In summer you eat breakfast (extra charge) in the garden. The tables are scattered about so that you have a little corner to yourself. In winter tables are set up in the different salons, one in each room, then covered in starched linen cloths and graced with proper napkins and fine crockery. Whatever the season you get croissants and pain au chocolat, as well as baguettes. There are lovely jams, freshly-squeezed juice, cereals, bowls of fruit, pots of tea and coffee, and eggs if you want them.

For snacks and light meals, you can request a platter of fresh crudités or a platter of French cheeses, accompanied by a basket of bread, a bottle of wine and some fresh fruits. Prices are fairly high, but the choice of settings is unbeatable - a candlelit salon, the orangery or a secluded spot in the gardens.

Otherwise, you can eat your way around the world in Nimes, so take to the streets and follow your nose. Try Alexandre for a Michelin star, secluded Le Passage de Virginie for relaxed dining and the freshest of ingredients, or La Flambee in Rue Fresque for a super-simple setting and great crepes. If you want to sit and drink coffee, head to Le Café Carré and gaze upon La Maison Carrée, the only fully-preserved Roman temple in the world.

Features include:

  • Bar
  • Breakfast
  • Dinner by arrangement
  • Restaurants nearby


  • Nimes is a hive of Roman architecture in wonderful nick. The amphitheatre is one of the best-preserved in the world, while the Temple in Place Carrée is the only fully-preserved Roman temple in the world
  • Head to the northwest corner of town and visit the Jardins de La Fontaine. They date to the 18th century and are one of the finest public gardens in Europe. Marble and white stone, statues and urns are all built around a spring that was the centre of a 1st-century Roman shrine
  • Continue up to Uzès, one of France’s best preserved medieval towns, utterly beautiful; market day is Saturday
  • Head northeast to Avignon for the 15th-century Papal Palace and the famous bridge; southwest to Arles for all things Van Gogh and a super little provincial town, or south to the long, sandy beaches of the Camargue
  • There’s lots more to do in this stunning corner of France, for more of our favourites, see our destination guide

Activities on site or nearby include:

  • Historical sites
  • Museums / galleries
  • Traditional cultures


Children are welcome, but this is a more grown-up place, with lots of delicate antiques and an atmosphere of romance.

Family friendly accommodation:

Cots Available, Extra Beds Available

Kid Friendly:

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