The most visited ancient monument in France, listed a world heritage site by Unesco, the Pont du Gard aqueduct remains one of humankind's great masterpieces. A marvel of Antiquity and a true technical feat, it is also a stupendous site that has regained its unspoiled state since its refurbishment.
48 metres high, it has three vertical rows of arches: 6 on the lowest level, 11 on the second level and 35 on the third and top level. Its upper part reaches a length of 273 metres (originally 360 metres when there were twelve extra arches). It served as an aqueduct until the 6th century before becoming a tollgate in the Middle Ages and finally a road bridge from the 18th to 20th century.
The operation Grand Site, started in 2000, gave it back its original setting, without any traffic or the constructions that had proliferated in the surrounding areas.
The admissions ticket to the site also allows entry to the facilities situated on the two banks of the Gardon:
- the Museum of the Pont du Gard, which retraces, through an exhibition accessible to the entire public, the history of the aqueduct's construction and its contribution to the way of life during the Roman Era
- a film presenting the site
- an outdoor exhibition about human occupation here since 2000 years ago
- Ludo, an entertaining and educational space for children
- temporary artistic and scientific exhibitions
- a restaurant-cafeteria on both sides of the river
Kayak outing at the foot of the Pont du Gard
Visit the top floor of the Pont du Gard
Esplanade and terrace of the site of the Pont du Gard
The remains of the Pont du Gard
The Gardon River seen from the Pont du Gard
Construction of an Ark at the time of the Romans
Model of construction of the Museum of the Pont du Gard bridge
Exhibition room at the Pont du Gard museum
In the first century AD, Nîmes, a prosperous Roman colony, saw its population growing to 20,000 people. At the the foot of the Mount Cavalier, the Nemausus fountain no longer sufficed in providing the city with its daily needs in drinking water, let alone in supplying the baths, fountains and many gardens. It was decided to build an aqueduct to channel water from the source of the Eure in Uzés all the way to Nîmes: 50 kilometres of channels dug out of the earth to install the pipes. Along the way, the Gardon River proved to be a difficult obstacle, overcome by the construction of the Pont du Gard.
A public utilities project, the Pont du Gard was also a work of prestige meant to show the superiority of Roman urban civilisation, at its height of power and prosperity at the time.
The main work lasted between 10 and 15 years, under the reigns of Claudius and Nero, with the Pont du Gard taking less than five years. The aqueduct in its entirety counts several hundred meters of tunnels, three basins and some twenty bridges, of which the Pont du Gard remains the most spectacular.
The aqueduct in itself is a masterpiece of engineering, testifying to the extraordinary mastery shown by the ancient builders: the incline is only 12 metres for a total length of 50 kilometres, or an average gradient of 24 cm/km or 0.24 mm/metre.
These eloquent figure may help you appreciate the technical feat carried out by the Roman engineers who had to apply immense precision to be sure that the water would flow by the force of gravity all the way to Nîmes.
The aqueduct wound through the scrubland for nearly 50 kilometres, bypassing hills, or passing through them in underground channels, and crossing valleys by way of elevated structures.
The construction of the Pont du Gard required 21,000m3 of stones, limestone rocks extracted from the Roman quarries near the ancient site. All the foundations, anchored into the rock base, permitted it to resist the assaults of time and the Gardon river's fearsome flooding, known as the infamous gardonnades.
Many vestiges of the aqueduct remain in the surrounding countryside. Marked trails around the Pont du Gard allow you to discover them.
Pont du Gard - 400, route du Pont du Gard - 30210 Vers-Pont-du-Gard
+33 (0)4 66 37 50 99http://www.pontdugard.com