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Wonder #10: Pont du Gard, France | Wonder of the World Series by Travelexpro

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About The Wonder 

Constructed in the 1st century AD, the Pont du Gard stands as a remarkable feat of Roman engineering, designed to transport water over 50 km (31 mi) to the ancient city of Nemausus (Nîmes). Spanning the river Gardon near Vers-Pont-du-Gard in southern France, it is celebrated as the tallest of all Roman aqueduct bridges and is remarkably well-preserved. Recognized for its exceptional conservation, historical significance, and architectural brilliance, the Pont du Gard was inscribed on UNESCO's list of World Heritage sites in 1985.


Location Map

History 

Constructed by the Romans in the first century, the Pont du Gard is not merely a bridge but rather the remnants of an ancient aqueduct. For five centuries, it facilitated the transportation of water from the Eure source in Uzès to Nîmes. With a daily capacity of 35,000 cubic meters, the aqueduct supplied the town's residents with drinking water while also catering to the needs of baths, fountains, and gardens throughout the area.

Rising 50 meters tall across three levels, the Pont du Gard holds the distinction of being the tallest ancient aqueduct bridge globally. A testament to Roman engineering prowess, it stretches 52 meters in length, with a gentle 17-meter descent over its entire span. Constructed amidst rugged scrubland, the bridge and tunnels to Nîmes stand as a testament to the remarkable skills of ancient builders. Remarkably, it remains the sole surviving ancient bridge with three levels intact to this day.

Over the centuries, the Pont du Gard has served as a muse for numerous artists. Renowned literary figures like Rabelais, Rousseau, Stendhal, Dumas, and Mérimée have all been captivated by the unique beauty of this site.

Since the 16th century, the Pont du Gard has been subject to ongoing restoration and conservation efforts. Recognized as a Historic Monument in 1840, it gained UNESCO World Heritage status in 1985 and was honored with the "Grand Site de France" designation in 2004. These designations aim to ensure the protection and upkeep of this iconic structure, which is the most visited ancient monument in France. Presently, only pedestrians are permitted to access the monument.

 How To Get There?

The airports closest to the Pont du Gard in France are:

  • Nîmes-Alès-Camargue-Cévennes Airport (FNI) - Approximately 27 km away.
  • Avignon-Provence Airport (AVN) - Approximately 36 km away.

Here's a tailored guide for travelers on recommended durations and transportation options from each major airport to the Pont du Gard:

From Nîmes-Alès-Camargue-Cévennes Airport (FNI):

  • Journey Time: The scenic drive from Nîmes Airport to the Pont du Gard typically spans about 30-40 minutes, showcasing the captivating landscapes of the Gard region.
  • Transportation Options: Renting a car is highly advised, providing travelers with the flexibility to explore the picturesque countryside at their own pace. Alternatively, taxis and rideshare services offer convenient alternatives for those preferring a more relaxed travel experience.

From Avignon-Provence Airport (AVN):

  • Journey Time: Traveling from Avignon Airport to the Pont du Gard by car usually takes approximately 45-50 minutes, allowing ample time to savor the enchanting Provencal scenery along the way.
  • Transportation Options: Renting a car offers travelers flexibility and convenience, enabling stops to admire the scenic vineyards and historic villages en route. For those who prefer not to drive, taxis and rideshare services are readily available for a comfortable journey.

Visa Requirements 

For short-term stays (less than 90 days) in France, US citizens do not need a visa, but their passport must be valid for at least three months beyond their intended departure date. Long-term stays (more than 90 days) require a long-stay visa or residence permit obtained before traveling. Due to COVID-19, additional entry requirements may apply, such as vaccination proof or COVID-19 testing. For visa information and application procedures, click here to check out visa requirements based on your requirements.

Accommodation Areas

  • Avignon: Popular tourist destination with various accommodation options and cultural attractions.Approximately 30 km from Pont du Gard, reachable by car or train
  • Nîmes: Historic city with a range of hotels and proximity to Pont du Gard.Around 25 km from Pont du Gard, accessible by car or public transportation.
  • Uzès: Quaint town known for its medieval architecture and charm.Approximately 11 km from Pont du Gard, a short drive away.
  • Remoulins: Closest to Pont du Gard, offering convenient access to the site.Closest to Pont du Gard, within walking distance (~1 km).
  • Vers-Pont-du-Gard: Small village within walking distance of Pont du Gard, ideal for a peaceful stay.Very close to Pont du Gard, also within walking distance (~1 km).
  • Beaucaire: Scenic town with a relaxed atmosphere, suitable for a quieter getaway.About 35 km from Pont du Gard, accessible by car.
  • Arles: Cultural hub with a rich history and diverse accommodation choices, though slightly farther from Pont du Gard.Approximately 40 km from Pont du Gard, reachable by car or train.

Language

While French serves as the official language of France, English is widely spoken in tourist hubs, hotels, and restaurants across the country. However, embracing basic French phrases can deepen your connection with locals and enrich your travel experience. Before visiting France, it's beneficial to learn simple French expressions and practice pronunciation. Consider utilizing language apps or carrying a pocket dictionary for assistance. Don't hesitate to try speaking French, as locals appreciate the effort. If you encounter difficulties, politely ask for assistance and use non-verbal communication when necessary. Patience and friendliness are key, and attempting to converse in French can enhance your interactions with locals and enrich your overall travel experience.

Currency

France's currency is the Euro (). It's widely accepted throughout the country for transactions and purchases.

Some fun facts about the pont du Gard 

  • Age: Built in the 1st century AD, the Pont du Gard is over 2,000 years old, making it one of the oldest Roman aqueduct bridges in the world.
  • Height: Standing at approximately 50 meters (164 feet) tall, it is the tallest Roman aqueduct bridge ever constructed.
  • Construction: The bridge was built without the use of mortar or cement, relying solely on the precision cutting and fitting of the stones.
  • Purpose: The Pont du Gard was part of a 50-kilometer (31-mile) aqueduct system that transported water from springs near Uzès to the Roman city of Nemausus (modern-day Nîmes) in southern France.
  • UNESCO World Heritage Site: It was designated as a UNESCO World Heritage Site in 1985 due to its exceptional preservation, historical significance, and architectural ingenuity.
  • Tourist Attraction: Today, the Pont du Gard is a popular tourist destination, attracting over a million visitors annually who come to marvel at its engineering marvel and picturesque surroundings.
  • Inspiration: The bridge has served as inspiration for numerous artists, writers, and poets throughout history, including famous figures like Rabelais, Rousseau, and Stendhal.
  • Restoration: Over the centuries, the Pont du Gard has undergone several restoration projects to preserve its structure and ensure its longevity for future generations to enjoy.
  • Symbolism: It symbolizes the ingenuity and engineering prowess of the ancient Romans, showcasing their ability to construct enduring structures that have stood the test of time.
  • Cultural Significance: The Pont du Gard is not only a testament to Roman engineering but also a symbol of cultural heritage, representing the rich history and heritage of the region.

Best time to visit Pont du Gard

Summer

During the summer months (July and August) at the Pont du Gard, temperatures can be hot, ranging from 25°C to 35°C (77°F to 95°F) on average. These are the busiest months, with a high influx of tourists, especially during the peak hours of the day. Expect large crowds and long lines at the site, particularly around midday when the heat is at its peak. It's advisable to visit early in the morning or later in the afternoon to avoid the worst of the heat and the crowds.

Spring and Fall

During the spring (March to May) and fall (September to November) months at the Pont du Gard, the weather is generally mild and pleasant. Temperatures typically range from 15°C to 25°C (59°F to 77°F) during the day, making it comfortable for outdoor activities and sightseeing. These seasons are considered shoulder seasons, so there are fewer tourists compared to the peak summer months, resulting in shorter queues and less crowded conditions. The surrounding landscape is lush and green in spring, while the fall foliage adds vibrant colors to the scenery. Spring and fall offer ideal conditions for exploring the Pont du Gard and enjoying the natural beauty of the region.

Winters

During the winter months (December to February) at the Pont du Gard, temperatures can vary, ranging from 5°C to 15°C (41°F to 59°F) on average. Winter is considered the off-peak season, so the site is less crowded compared to the summer months. While there may be fewer tourists, visiting during winter provides a quieter and more peaceful experience. However, be prepared for cooler temperatures and the possibility of rain. It's advisable to dress warmly and check the weather forecast before your visit.

Recommended Activities 

 

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