Pont du Gard – Remoulin, France

We finally woke to clearer skies after another night of torrential rain. Including a 2am wake up call when the girls helpfully barked to tell us about the thunder, it’s a bit more dramatic here than they are used to in the UK. Therefore, finally time to see the Pont du Gard, an ancient first century AD Roman aqueduct which was originally 31 miles long, built to carry water from natural springs in Uzès to the Roman colony of Nemausus (now Nîmes). It is the highest of all Roman aqueducts, at 38.8m / 160ft high, the precise construction allowed an average gradient of 1 in 3000, for the 17m height difference between water source and target destination in Nîmes. In fact, they had to vary the gradient on route, to be able to reduce the total height by 6m, one section having a fall of only 7mm in 100m! (Source: Wikipedia). How on earth the Romans achieved such heights of engineering in that era is astounding and we love seeing their legacy across their once vast empire.

We headed off for the 20 minute walk from our Aire to the aqueduct to reach several barred gates and barriers to the visitor centre demanding a 9€ entrance fee and which was closed anyway. We wondered through the car park but only got a distant view through fences and trees, our route was blocked. However, we had come a long way to see this and we were not to be deterred so easily so headed back into the woods to walk to a viewing point on the top of the gorge. We followed the marked path quite a way before Kev checked the google maps, only to find we were off track. It was obviously the locked gated entrance we had passed. However we saw another smaller route that headed in roughy the right direction and decided to try that. However after clambering up a steep rock path we found we had in fact discovered the Sartanette Cave, which is believed to have Neolithic origins, many different animal bones having been found within. The entrance now is fenced off, according to the signs it being home to bats, apt for Halloween however it also brought to mind the recent linking of coronavirus to bats, we pushed on up the hill. Only after several attempts to follow animal tracks to a dead end and realising there was another gorge between us and the viewpoint we headed back the way we had come.

I was recalling the “reckless endeavours” exclusion clause in our travel insurance as we scrambled down the steep damp, slippery track, which I had dismissed when I read it as something we would not possibly do. However, we arrived back safely to the original track and we were rewarded with finding another section of the aqueduct which you could climb to the top of (at least Kevin and Lola could anyway).

Finally we found another unofficial route to the viewpoint and made our way there. The path actually takes you to the access point to the top tier of the aqueduct itself, although this was barricaded (probably quite sensibly), but great to get a perspective of how high it was. Just through the woods we got some great pictures from the view point of the swollen torrents of the river Gardon below swirling under the aqueduct. Amazing it has withstood such natural forces for so long.

Now we were on the official route there was quite a few people milling around and we followed the signs back down to the riverside for some more photos and a walk across the bridge alongside the aqueduct where we could peer up at the arches and see the carved graffiti dating back to the early 1800’s chipped into the stone. We crossed the river and then decided it was time enough to head back for our breakfast, now brunch, our 40 min walk having turned into just short of 3 hours and over 6 miles.

This afternoon we need to plan where next and watch the Quins v Saracens game while the dogs get a well earned sleep.

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