Monday, March 15, 2010

Pont du Gard

One of the most impressive historical sites in the South of France is the Pont du Gard, the aqueduct located in the Gard Department of Languedoc-Roussillon. The Pont du Gard is about 60 km from our home in Sablet, between Remoulins and the Duchy of Uzès.

Although technically in Languedoc-Roussillon, the Pont du Gard and Uzès seem more part of Provence and are generally included in guidebooks about Provence.

The Pont du Gard is part of an aqueduct system which brought spring water from a catchment area near Uzès 50 km to the Roman city of Nîmes.

Built by the Romans during the 1st century, the aqueduct was constructed entirely without mortar. The stones, some of which weigh up to 6 tons, were precisely cut to fit perfectly together eliminating the need for mortar.

The cut stone was lifted into place with a massive human-powered treadmill providing the power for the winch.

The full 50 km aqueduct descended only 17 meters in its entire length and delivered 20,000 cubic meters or a little over 5 million gallons on a daily basis.

The Pont du Gard is remarkably well preserved and was added to UNESCO's list of World Heritage Sites in 1985.

I remember visits to the Pont du Gard when I was very young, probably in connection with visits to my grandmother's family who lived near Anduze in the Gard Department, and going swimming in the Gardon River below the Pont du Gard.

As recently as 1995 when we were there, you could climb to the very top and walk across the Pont du Gard. Being afraid of heights, I have never been up there myself. I was not happy when my friend and at that time future business partner Cluney took my daughters up there.

During more recent visits, we were not able to go above the bottom level, probably because of fear of law suits from falls (although the French are less paranoid about this than we are in United States) and to preserve the Pont du Gard for future generations.

The Pont du Gard can be accessed from either the right bank or left bank of the Gardon River. There is a charge for parking but access to the bridge is free. There are several places where you can swim in the river if you so choose.

A good way to explore the Pont du Gard is as part of a visit to the Duchy of Uzes which is worthwhile. There is a wonderful market in Uzès on Saturday mornings one of my favorites after the Tuesday morning market in Vaison la Romaine. Go early as parking is difficult by late morning.


  1. As we live in the village of Vers Pont du Gard, across the road from the Pont, it was fun to read your post. When visiting be sure to see the quarries in Vers and the tracks from the Roman chariots delivering the stones. Another way to see the Pont du Gard is to rent a boat in Collias and go under the Pont. What a different view! Uzes is a great town. Be sure to spend time discovering it.

  2. Thanks for the suggestions; we have never been to the quarries or seen the tracks so we will make sure we include this on our next visit. We love Uzes and the surrounding area. When we were hunting for houses, we looked at several in the area.