In the heart of this small city with a huge Roman amphitheatre, Jardins Secrets feels like a wealthy artist's residence.

Framed by climbing plants and citrus trees, this converted 18th-century coaching inn feels secluded, though it's five minutes from the old town.

Breakfast is served in a lounge crammed with ornate clocks, silk-draped settees and birds in antique cages - or you can eat in the garden.

Bathe under a stained-glass window in the olive-green Alick suite, with views of the sunlit cloister, or slip into sleep on the ruffled-silk bed in Suite de Madame.

Stroll in the shade-dappled Jardins de la Fontaine, dine in the higgledy streets and sip a nightcap looking up at the nearby Roman temple, Maison Carrée.

WOW FACTOR: The candlelit spa room, booked exclusively, has a Roman-style plunge pool and Eastern massages.

GO: Chic Retreats ( offers doubles from £173. Ryanair ( flies to Nîmes from £30 one way.