The aqueduct of Nîmes, which is about 50 km long, needed a way to cross the Gard River; therefore, the Pont du Gard was constructed not long before the Christian era. The three-level, nearly 50-meter-high bridge was built by Roman architects and hydraulic engineers, and it is both a technical and beautiful marvel. The longest level measures 275 meters.
The principal component of a 50.02 km aqueduct was constructed in the middle of the first century to serve the city of Nîmes, the former Roman colony of Nemausus, from the Eure source close to Uzès, is the Pont du Gard, which is situated in the Occitanie region. It allowed the water conduit to cross the Gardon River as a three-story aqueduct bridge that reached almost 48.77 meters in height.
An Introduction of Pont du Gard in Nîmes, France
This triple bridge, whose longest floor spans 360 m at the very top of the structure, is a feat and a masterpiece of Roman architectural technique as well as a piece of art whose presence transforms the surrounding environment. The Pont du Gard is perched on a rocky base, crossed by a massive arch over a river with a notch, adding to its imposing look and lines of force. For a piece of this size, it appears remarkably airy thanks to the arches’ gentle and symmetrical tapering, the span of the lower arches, and the regularity of the top gallery.
The Pont du Gard is a superb illustration of a bridge constructed in antiquity. It is distinguished by the employment of juxtaposed rollers made of voussoirs bearing engraved positioning markers for the building of the arches of the lower levels, which produces a triple performance with its three levels of unequally sized arches. This extraordinary structure, one of the Roman aqueducts, was built after substantial adaptation to the Gardon River’s unpredictable and devasting floods. The lips put in place in front of the piers are made to withstand high water, and the opening of the main lower arch (24.52 m as opposed to 21.87 m for the extremities) makes it easier for water to pass.
The Nîmes aqueduct’s Route
There were some drawbacks to Nemausus’ (Nîmes’) position in terms of supplying water. A water supply route would be too challenging from an engineering standpoint due to the hills to the west and the plains to the south and east of the city, where any water sources would be too low an altitude to be able to flow to the city. The only viable alternative was looking to the north, and in particular, to the region near Ucetia (Uzès), where there are natural springs.
The Nîmes aqueduct was constructed to transport water from the Fontaine d’Eure springs in Uzès to the castellum divisor (repartition basin) at Nemausus. It was then given to private residences, baths, and fountains across the city. The distance between the two is approximately 20 km (12 mi) in a straight line, but the aqueduct travels a twisting path that takes about 50 km (31 mi).
Tourism in the Pont du Gard
For centuries, the Pont du Gard has drawn visitors. Since the brickwork on the bridge is of such exceptional quality, it has become a required visit for French journeymen masons on their annual tour of the nation (see Compagnons du Tour de France), many of whom have inscribed their names on the stonework.
This bridge became a well-known staging post for tourists taking the Grand Tour starting in the 18th century, especially with the building of the new road bridge. It gained increasingly recognized as a site of historical significance and French national pride.
The magnificent engineering of the Pont du Gard
The Pont du Gard is the most prominent aqueduct in Nîmes. For 40 centuries of its existence, it has taken pleasure in being the highest aqueduct in Roman times and one of the wonders of the ancient world. The city of Nîmes has received water from this construction, built between Uzès and Nîmes (Gard), for five centuries. It travels more than 50 kilometers across the mountains and winds between the two cities.
The Gardon River
This enormous aqueduct includes the Pont du Gard. This bridge was constructed to allow the Gardon River to be crossed by the Nîmes Aqueduct. The Pont du Gard, which was built around 50 ADS, provides evidence of Roman engineering. Over 48 meters high, it spans the river for more than 275 meters.
The three levels of this architectural marvel are all covered in arches:
- The lower floor with six arches
- The intermediate stage with 11 arches
- The upper level with 35 arches
The bridge previously held up a pipeline where water ran beneath a layer of stone slabs at its highest point.
The best time to visit the Pont du Gard
Public access to the Pont du Gard site is available all year round. The Mediterranean landscapes are at their most beautiful in the spring. The river is the best place for swimming and participating in various evening activities in the summer. Vineyards and plants exhibit their most stunning hues in the autumn. Additionally, the enchantment of the location can be peacefully experienced in the winter.
How to get to the Pont du Gard
- Pont du Gard is situated in the heart of the Avignon, Marseille, and Montpellier triangle. It takes 2 hours and 40 minutes from Paris (or one hour from Lyon or Marseilles) by high-speed train (TGV Mediterranean) to reach the site.
- If you’re traveling by car, take exit 23 at Remoulins toward Uzès automobile from the A9, then heed the directions for the right or left banks. Avignon is 21 kilometers and Nîmes 27 kilometers away.
- The TGV provides rail service to the Nîmes and Avignon train stations. The TGV train from Paris to Nîmes takes 2 hours and 50 minutes.
- If you are traveling by bus, take Line A15 from Avignon or Alès. From Nîmes, use Line B21.
- If you’re flying there, Pont du Gard is 30 minutes from Avignon and Nîmes, 45 minutes from Montpellier, and 1.25 hours from Marseille.