A tale of two (or more) city traditions I sat in the lobby of the classic Hotel Imperator the other evening listening to a juicy tidbit of gossip about the iconic actress Ava Gardner (who'd been dating a bull fighter in Nimes) who was forced to sneak out of the hotel through the kitchen. Apparently, staff were nonplussed. After all, Ernest Hemingway stayed at the hotel often enough and historians have well documented his shenanigans. (The novelist even referred to the Hotel Imperator in one of his novels.) Three reasons to visit Nimes: history (it's chockablock with ancient ruins going back to Roman times), bull-fighting (let the Popes have Avignon; the matadors claim Nimes!) and the food. For history buffs You need only sit back in the seats of the Arena of Nîmes, the ancient Roman amphitheatre, close your eyes and hear the crowds roar from two millennia ago. Built around 70 AD, the arena was remodelled in 1863 to serve as a bull ring, and is the location of the annual Feria de Nimes. For the foodies Based on my dinner at Restaurant Le Carré d’Art, I'm leaving more time in my schedule on my next visit for a culinary tour. Avignon Gourmet Tours offers a 3-km walking tour that will capture the flavours of Avignon and includes some tastings of Chateauneuf-du-Pape wineries. Mix it up a bit Combining your travel passions is rather easy with Transat Holiday's 9-day Marseille, Nice & Aix-en-Provence package. You can explore the history of such places as Marseilles, Avignon and Nimes, while immersing yourself in the gastronomy of Aix-en-Provence and other cities along the way. In short, you get to cherry-pick your favourite cities in the south of France. And, if you play your cards right, you could very well pick up on juicy bits of gossip from long ago. As for Ava Gardner and the bull-fighter? Well, let's just say you had best ask the locals in Nimes.