Arènes de Cimiez

The ruins of Cimiez include considerable remains of a Roman amphitheatre and bath complex.

TravelCurious Tip

Don’t miss the surrounding suburb of Cimiez either - a popular haunt of British aristocrats in the 19th century, it’s full of impressive Belle Époque architecture.

Cemenelum to Cimiez

Just next to the Matisse Museum - a wonderful 17th century Genoese villa, free to enter and well worth a visit itself - Parc des Arènes de Cimiez is a pleasant park filled with old olive trees, and much older Roman ruins. The park is entered through the amphitheatre, and is a hidden oasis from the town.

You will find elderly boules players in the shade, and a little café that is great value and popular with locals. The park is a wonderful picnic spot, and a perfect day out when combined with a visit to the museum. Also found in Cimiez is the Franciscan Monastery and Church of Nice, Monastère Notre Dame de Cimiez, established in the 9th century and adjoining some beautiful gardens.

Between the 1st and 4th centuries Cimiez was the site of Cemenelum, a Roman city roughly the size of Pompeii, and the capital of the Riviera. Its name comes from the treetops’ closeness to the sky. Most of its remains are beneath the ground, but today parts of the old amphitheatre and a large bathing complex can still be seen.

Roman remains

The amphitheatre on the site was first constructed in the 2nd century AD, and though a respectable size it was fairly modest compared to other Roman amphitheatres, with a capacity of only 5,000 spectators. Anchor points for its velarium (an awning that used to shade the arena) are still visible. The Archaeological Museum of Nice-Cimiez displays the artifacts and objects found here; excavations are still underway. Until 2011, the amphitheatre also played host to the Nice Jazz Festival.

Adjoining are the impressive baths, whose frigidarium (long misidentified as a Temple of Apollo) has stood undisturbed since Roman times. Areas of the extensive thermal complex were uncovered in the mid-20th century.

Nearby Attractions

See all attractions in Nice
Cimiez Franciscan Monastery
Cimiez Franciscan Monastery is a picturesque 9th century retreat with beautiful gardens, and an adjacent cemetery where Henri Matisse is buried.
Le Port
Le Port is a beautiful harbour area full of history.
Nice Old Town
Vieux Nice is the city’s picturesque Italianate district, with flower and food markets, narrow streets and piazzettas.
Opéra de Nice
Nice’s opera house is one of the most spectacular buildings in the city, and hosts world-class classical concerts.
Palais Lascaris
A magnificent collection of musical instruments housed in a stunning Baroque palace.
Place Garibaldi
A monumental 18th century Baroque square, designed by Antonio Spinelli in the 18th century.

Related Tours

The Essential Highlights of Nice
Ancient Beginnings

In this comprehensive tour of Nice, you will have the pleasure of visiting Mont Boron, where you will enjoy a breathtaking panoramic view of the Bay of Angels and Nice Old Town. You will then move on to explore the Castle Hill, original site of the trading town founded by the Greeks 2,500 years ago. Interestingly enough, this ancient town was entirely dismantled by the soldiers of the French King, Louis XIV.

Venturing onwards to beautiful Cimiez, you will discover the former Roman settlement of Cemenelum, and learn how the area would later become the winter home of Queen Victoria. Spoilt for choice, you will see the Roman amphitheatre and ruins, you will enjoy the Belle Epoque architecture, and see the famous Cimiez Franciscan monastery with its stunning garden. Indeed, you will not be surprise that Cimiez would become home to Henri Matisse, and would be where he would get much of his inspiration for his fabulous work. 

Colourful Old Town and Beyond

One of the main highlights of the French Riviera capital is the prestigious Promenade des Anglais, a favorite walk-way of European nobility in the last century. Here you will find the magnificent Hôtel Negresco and art deco Palais de la Méditerranée. 

A tour of Nice would not be complete without a visit to the Italian-influenced, picturesque district of the Old City, where you can enjoy the many beautiful Baroque churches, cobbled streets, and small colourful squares. On the Saleya square, you will enjoy the famous colourful flower market as well as having the opportunity to experience gourmet specialties, including the famous socca or pissaladière, artisanal olive oil and delicious local wine. The elegant Masséna, on the border of the Old and Modern Town, will impress with its elegant style and faultless atmosphere.


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