The Retirees go Abroad – Nice and the Cote D’Azur – Pont du Gard

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It is day 9 and a long trip to Nice as we are going via Pont du Gard a Roman aqueduct. Sunshine and blue skies made the trip comfortable and we were all excited to visit this relic. On arriving at Remoulins, we made our way to a ticket office and barrier. 18€ per day was the entry fee. We thought that was a bit steep for a stop and look visit, so we looked for another option including parking illegally in a nearby caravan park. Fortunately we reflected on the cost and realised that this was only 4€.25 per person so we opened our wallets. And good thing we did as there was a lot more to see than a flying visit.

The bridge descends by a mere 2.5 cm (0.98 in) – a gradient of only 1 in 3,000 – which is indicative of the great precision that Roman engineers were able to achieve, using only simple technology. 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. 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, it became one of France’s most popular tourist attractions.

Today the bridge is part of a large park which caters for holiday camping and bush activities, museums and of course the aqueduct across the Gardon. It is a long walk from the carpark to the aqueduct but once you turn the last corner you can imagine you are in Roman Gaul 2,000 years ago (except for the even concrete path under foot). The Pont du Gard (literally: Gard Bridge) is there in front of you The bridge has three tiers of arches, standing 48.8 m (160 ft.) high.  An ancient Roman aqueduct bridge built in the 1st century AD that crosses the Gardon River, from which it takes its name, it is part of the Nîmes aqueduct, a 50 km-long (31 mi) structure built by the Romans to carry water from a spring at Uzès to the Roman colony of Nemausus (Nîmes). Because the terrain between the two points is hilly, the aqueduct – built mostly underground – took a long, winding route that crossed the gorge of the Gardon, requiring the construction of an aqueduct bridge.

We crossed the bridge and I ventured onto the highest part of the ridge to gain a better view. There was a camera crew and pyrotechnics crew preparing for a celebration in June and so you will see in the photos people on the top if the bridge. It is no longer open to the public to climb a recently built (19th century) internal staircase to the top to protect the bridge. We spent a couple of hours there. So much for a quick look and see.

From here we travelled back toward Avignon and then onto Nice. A nice sunny day but too hot for a car without airconditioning.

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