It was the Romans who turned the small Gallic village of Nîmes into a city. Their presence is still felt today in the large number of Roman ruins, including the Pont du Gard aqueduct and the Maison Carée temple, considered to be the best-preserved Roman temple in the whole Mediterranean. In early medieval times, Nîmes lost much of its Roman sheen. It went from having a population of 25 000, to a mere 2 500. The residents of the city were left so vulnerable that they took refuge in the amphitheatre and fortified it. Some areas of the city, like La Fontaine, were abandoned completely. Since those days, the city has seen many changes. During the 11th century it once again grew stronger and larger, thanks to its wine, olive and sheepskin trade. In the 16th century, Nîmes was badly affected by the religious war between the French Protestants, the Huguenots and the Catholic Church.
Today Nîmes is a well-healed city with a strong focus on tourism. Much of the city is being regenerated, and the old areas renovated, with a keen interest in preserving its Roman heritage. Nîmes has commissioned many accomplished architects to create interesting landmarks such as Carré d´Art. The word Denim has its birthplace in Nimes. It was used for a special fabric originated here and became known as: de Nimes - "Denim".