The Pont du Gard is an ancient Roman aqueduct that crosses the Gardon River in southern France. The bridge is part of the Nîmes aqueduct, a 50-kilometre system built in the first century AD to carry water from a spring at Uzès to the Roman colony of Nemausus (Nîmes). Because of the uneven terrain between the two points, the mostly underground aqueduct followed a long, winding route that called for a bridge across the gorge of the Gardon River. The Pont du Gard is the highest of all elevated Roman aqueducts, and, along with the Aqueduct of Segovia, one of the best preserved. It was added to UNESCO's list of World Heritage Sites in 1985 because of its historical importance.

The bridge has three tiers of arches, standing 48.8m high. The whole aqueduct descends in height by only 17 m over its entire length, while the bridge descends by a mere 2.5 centimetres which is indicative of the great precision that Roman engineers were able to achieve, using only simple technology. The aqueduct formerly carried an estimated 200,000 m3 of water a day to the fountains, baths and homes of the citizens of Nîmes. It continued to be used possibly until the 6th century, with some parts used for significantly longer, but lack of maintenance after the 4th century meant that it became increasingly clogged by mineral deposits and debris that eventually choked off the flow of water.

After the collapse of the Roman Empire and the aqueduct's fall into disuse, the Pont du Gard remained largely intact, due to the importance of its secondary function, as a toll bridge. For centuries the local lords and bishops were responsible for its upkeep, in exchange for the right to levy tolls on travellers using it to cross the river, although some of its stones were looted and serious damage was inflicted on it in the 17th century. It attracted increasing attention starting in the 18th century, and became an important tourist destination. It underwent a series of renovations between the 18th and 21st centuries, commissioned by the local authorities and the French state, that culminated in 2000 with the opening of a new visitor centre and the removal of traffic and buildings from the bridge and the area immediately around it. Today it is one of France's most popular tourist attractions, and has attracted the attention of a succession of literary and artistic visitors.

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Details

Founded: 40-60 AD
Category: Prehistoric and archaeological sites in France
Historical period: Roman Gaul (France)

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4.4/5 (based on Google user reviews)

User Reviews

Beth Vanderkin (21 months ago)
Awe inspiring. Do not miss this stop in southern France. Went in early March and the weather, even at sunset was wonderful and the light was incredible. Good orientation movie. Student discount tickets with ID. Helpful staff.
Rick Simmons (22 months ago)
Really an amazing structure to behold, especially since it was constructed around 40-60AD and took 15 years to build. When you see how large the bridge / aqueduct is, and realize that it was built with ropes, pulleys and a lot of sweat, it only adds to the awe of what the Romans did. The Wikipedia page has a good reference as well - don't miss this stop.
Mackie McIntosh (22 months ago)
Gotta go and do the full tour before it is closed off for good! Its UNESCO designation will require some changes to the tours to better preserve this incredible landmark. We went on a weekday in the winter and it was practically deserted. Judging by the massive car park, it looks like it would be a complete madhouse in the summertime.
Cpt. JoJo (22 months ago)
This place is so magical that I can not explain it. I was working near Marseille for two years and this was one of my favourite places. I was here multiple times ... Perfect place to go for a date, watch sunset or just chill out or walk. If you are in the Provence, this is must to see. There is also a lot of small roads to wonder just like that without paying ticket in.
Tom Holder (23 months ago)
This is your standard tourist trap, pay parking, pay to get in the gate. Not exactly cheap but I'm guessing it costs to maintain the site. Parking is good plenty of space then about a 5 min walk to the entrance. Nice little cafe / ice cream shop on the inside. Kids and adults can swim in the river. I'd still say it's worth seeing.
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