Saturday, March 12, 2011

Pont du Gard

Pont du Gard near Nimes is a Roman bridge and aqueduct and one of the must-sees in this region of France. Way back when the Roman Empire extended well past Italy to cover most of Western Europe, France was securely under Roman rule. You can see remnants of this all over France in the form of Roman ruins like the aqueduct that runs through the small village of Castries just north of Montpellier. But the most impressive and famous Roman mark on this area is not a ruin but the restored bridge and aqueduct, Pont du Gard.
three levels, top level was for the water
Not ones to be foiled by a river blocking the flow of precious water into the town of Nimes, the Romans built the bridge with the aqueduct tunnel carved out of the top to allow the water to pass across the Gard River. The bridge is 900 feet long and the highest of all the Roman bridges at 161 ft/49 m.
inside the aqueduct, this is where the water flowed
Consider this for a moment. Not only did the Romans use water much as we do for drinking, cooking, bathing and as a means of removing waste they were engineers who manipulated nature to bend to these needs.If there's a stream in Uzes that pumps fresh, clean water then by golly, let's find a way to get into the town so we can have our baths. And if there's a river that gets in the way of our water tunnel then I suppose there's nothing for it but to build a bridge. A bridge that still stands today, two thousand years later. A bridge that you can walk across and examine and touch with the carvings of those who engineered and worked on it visible in the ancient stone.

In the summer they have light shows bouncing off the stones of the bridge and open air concerts on the banks of the river. You can visit it then but when we went last month it was a bit cold and drizzly and we were one of three groups of people there. It was quiet as we walked across and we were able to get close and really look at it, to explain to the kids how and why it was built, and take photos without the summer's tourists getting in the way.

Practical information on the official pontdugard website here.
You can enter at either side of the river where you will find large parking lots and a collection of buildings housing a little cafe, gift shop, museum and public toilets. Parking is 15 euro per car in high season, 10 euro per car in low season but admission after that is free. Visit the link above for all the information regarding directions, entry and high season activities.


  1. It looks pretty good for 2000 years! x

  2. Great post - and wonderful pictures! Pont du Gard is my absolutely favorite spot we've visited this year. Lots of room for the kids to run around and I didn't feel like I had to yell at them if they touched the bridge that had already survived for 2000+ years. Engineer husband liked the construction. And family was happy so mom (me) was happy!

    Can you believe Frommer's France gives this place only one star? But of course they suggest that if you have only one week in France with kids that you go to EuroDisney for two days. :-(

  3. Yeah, I hope I look that sturdy when I'm 2000!

    How beautiful, how magical!



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