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The Pont du Gard

Published by Madeline Gowers — 23 days ago

Every summer during my childhood – for about a decade – I went on holiday to the south of France with my mother, her friend, and her friend’s daughter, who was around my age. Each year, there’d be a whole debate on where we were going to stay next, but the fifth time around, we found the perfect place and never looked back. This cottage was beautifully decorated, wonderfully cosy, and very well-equipped (we had a swimming pool all to ourselves!), but one of the main reasons we loved it was its position: a short drive from the incredible Pont du Gard. Every year, when summer rolled round, my friend and I would count down the days until we’d be staring up at this magnificent structure once more, and it grew to be an integral part of each holiday.

The Pont du Gard

About the Pont du Gard

The Pont du Gard is an Ancient Roman aqueduct bridge, built around the first century AD, which still remains standing in almost perfect condition today. The construction has three levels – the lowest of which can be crossed on foot – and is located about halfway down the Gardon River. It is one of France’s most iconic monuments – no wonder it features on the 5€ banknote! – and has been a major tourist attraction for many centuries.

Getting there

Information on getting to the Pont du Gard can be found on the monument’s official website (linked above). However, I would definitely recommend arriving on foot if you can: we would usually go by car, and the parking fees were always ridiculously expensive!

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What to do there

Swim in the Gardon River

The Gardon River is safe for swimming, and there's no more blissful place to splash about on a hot summer's afternoon. A number of tall rocks surround the water, so if you're feeling brave, jump in from these – here's a photo of me quite literally taking the plunge! Just make sure that, wherever you jump from, you watch someone else do so safely first. Also beware that some parts of the river are infested with weed, so turn back if you feel your legs starting to get tangled in any!

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Go kayaking or canoeing

Feeling extra energetic? Why not rent a kayak or canoe, and cruise right under the Pont du Gard? My friend and I always used to get a two-person boat from CANOË COLLIAS, a company whose base was about five kilometres away from the monument, itself. We loved gliding along the river, occasionally pulling up on a beach to enjoy a quick swim or sunbathing session, and were always most grateful for the shuttle bus service that took us from a place just beyond the aqueduct back to our point of departure.

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Visit the museum

There’s no better way to get to know the history of a place than by visiting a museum dedicated to it! The one located here is particularly good, and you’ll find out all you need to know about the existence of this structure, from its initial construction, to the various restoration projects that have been executed over the years, to its present-day situation.

Picnic on the rocks

If you like having a bit more of a lazy day, why not enjoy a picnic on the rocks under the aqueduct? Even on the busiest of days, you’ll be able to find plenty of spaces, in and out of the shade, and no matter where you sit, you’ll have a great view! Bringing food with you is also a good idea, since, in my experience, the restaurants on site are tourist traps, selling average food at high prices.

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Why you should go

Whether you’re a history buff or a water sports fanatic, the Pont du Gard is a definite must see if you’re ever in the south of France! Not only is it stunning to look at, it’s also got a fascinating history attached to it, and is truly one of a kind. Maybe you'd like to sit on a rock next to the aqueduct; perhaps you'd prefer to kayak beneath it: either way, get planning now, and have an unforgettable trip!

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