The Pont du Gard is a three-level stone aqueduct crossing the Gardon river valley, about 25 km west of Avignon. Built over 2000 years ago, in 19 BC, by Marcus Vipsanius Agrippa, the son-in-law of Augustus.
A road bridge was added to the structure in 1743 and used until 1996. The site is now well maintained and a very popular tourist attraction.
Visiting the Pont du Gard
Cost. The visit cost for the Pont du Gard (2012) is an 18 euro parking charge. There is no additional per-person cost. You obtain a ticket at the entry kiosk to the parking area (on either the left bank or the right bank). At the visitors center (right bank side) you'll find caisse kiosks where you insert the card and pay, any time before you depart.
Entry. The main entry parking is on the left bank (rive gauche) side of the river, on the D19/D981 road between Avignon and Uzès (just northwest of Remoulin). The main visitor center is on this side, where you walk through to access the bridge.
There's also parking on the right bank (rive droite) side of the river. Access to this side is at the western edge of Remoulins. Cross the bridge on the west side of town and turn right (north) onto the Ave du Pont du Gard. This road goes about 1.5 km to end at the parking area for the Pont du Gard and a hotel.
Pont du Gard - Roman Aqueduct. The main point of this site is, of course, the Roman aqueduct (see Pont du Gard History, below). For this, you take a leisurely walk from the visitors' center out to the "pont", examine the construction, enjoy the view up or down the river valley, wander across to the far side, explore down along the river at the far side, or take the trails up to the hilltop on the near side.
Pont du Gard - Visitors' Center. The visitors' center is where the ticket machines and information center are located. Here too are the restrooms, snackbar, bistro, souvenir boutiques, bookshop and audioguides for your visit (available in several languages). The visitors' center also has "Discovery" areas, with an interactive museum and an educational kid's play area.
There's snack-bar/café fare at the visitors center, and a lovely up-scale restaurant on the left bank. On the right-bank, Les Terrasses café-restaurant is in a lovely setting beneath huge plane trees, and has menus at 18€, 30€, 40€ and a 10€ kiddies menu (2012).
Very popular cycling routes cross the Pont du Gard. Rather than pay for the visitors parking, many people seem to park at Remoulins, at the west side of the Remoulins bridge, at the beginning of the Ave du Pont du Gard. From there, you can unload your bikes and cycle in to and across the bridge (although you're requested to walk your bike when you pass through the visitors center).
There is no charge for access to the Pont du Gard for hikers. The GR6 (Grande Randonnée) hiking trail crosses the bridge.
To the south, the GR6 crosses the low wooded hills (146 m) to the village of St Bonnet-du-Gard, and continues south via Sernhac and Meynes to Beaucaire on the Rhône.
On the north side of the Pont du Gard, the GR6/GR63 trails go west along the Gorges du Gardon, past Collias and on up the Gordon to Anduze.
Eastward from the north side of Pont du Gard, the GR63 goes through the perched village of Castillon-du-Gard, Rochefort-du-Gard and Villeneuve-lès-Avignon, on the Rhône beside Avignon.
Pont du Gard History
The Pont du Gard was added to UNESCO's list of UNESCO World Heritage Sites in 1985.
Designed to carry the water across the small Gardon river valley, it was part of a nearly 50 km (31 mi) aqueduct that brought water from springs near Uzès to the Roman city of Nemausus (Nîmes). The full aqueduct had a gradient of 34 cm/km (1/3000), descending only 17 m vertically in its entire length and delivering 20,000 cubic meters (44 million gallons) of water daily.
It was constructed entirely without the use of mortar. The aqueduct's stones - some of which weigh up to 6 tons - are held together with iron clamps. The masonry was lifted into place by block and tackle with a massive human-powered treadmill providing the power for the winch. A complex scaffold was erected to support the aqueduct as it was being built. The face of the aqueduct still bears the mark of its construction, in the form of protruding scaffolding supports and ridges on the piers which supported the semicircular wooden frames on which the arches were constructed. It is believed to have taken about three years to build, employing between 800 and 1,000 workers.
From the 4th century onwards, its maintenance was neglected, and deposits filled up to two thirds of the conduit space. By the 9th century, it became unusable, and the people of the area started using its stones for their own purposes. However, the majority of the Pont du Gard remains remarkably intact.
From the Middle Ages to the 18th century, the aqueduct was used as a conventional bridge to facilitate foot traffic across the river. The pillars of the second level were reduced in width to make more room for the traffic, but this jeopardized the stability of the structure. In 1702 the pillars were restored to their original width in order to safeguard the aqueduct. In 1743, a new bridge was built next to the arches of the lower level, so that the road traffic could cross on a purpose-built bridge. The aqueduct was restored in the 18th century, by which time it had become a major tourist sight, and was restored again in the reign of Napoleon III in the mid-19th century.
The outstanding quality of the bridge's masonry led to it becoming an obligatory stop for French journeymen masons on their traditional tour around the country (see Compagnons du Tour de France), many of whom have left their names on the stonework. Markings left by the original builders can also be seen, indicating the positions in which the dressed stones were to be placed: for instance, FRS II (standing for fronts sinistra II, or "front left 2").
In 1998 the Pont du Gard was hit by major flooding which caused widespread damage in the area. The road leading up to it and the neighboring facilities were badly damaged, although the aqueduct itself was not seriously harmed.
The French Government sponsored a major redevelopment project in conjunction with local sources, UNESCO and the EU which concluded in 2000, pedestrianising the entire area around the aqueduct and greatly improving the visitor facilities, including establishing a museum on the north bank. The project has been criticized for its cost (€32 million) and for the perceived loss of natural beauty of the surrounding landscape and area. One side-effect is that it is no longer possible to walk through the conduit at the top of the aqueduct. However, the redevelopment has ensured that the area around the Pont du Gard is now much quieter due to the removal of vehicle traffic, and the new museum provides a much improved historical context for visitors.
Source: Much of our text is from the Wikiedia (http://en.wikipedia.org/)
• GPS: 43.94528, 4.537053
IGN (1/25,000) #2941 OT "Uzès"
"Massif et Gorges du Gardon", map+info (1:30'000)
Transportation Pont du Gard
Avignon - Uzès - Alès
The bus line number 205, Avignon - Uzès - Alès, stops a Pont du Gard. There are around 5 or 6 buses a day in each direction.
- From Avignon: Pont du Gard (45 min), Uzès (1hr), Alès (2hrs)
- From Alès: Uzès (45 min), Pont du Gard (1hr10), Avignon (2hrs)
The bus line number 150, Nîmes - Uzès - St Ambroix, has around 6 buses a day in each direction. It's about 45 minutes from Nîmes to Uzès. Then you take the number 205 from Uzès to Pont du Gard (15 minutes).