Pont du Gard

The Pont du Gard at moonrise

The Pont du Gard has been endlessly photographed - but none of those familiar images prepares you for the elegance and majesty of the real thing.

A masterpiece of ancient architecture and the highest Roman aqueduct-bridge in the world, no wonder it's one of France's top tourist attractions.

As well as the Pont du Gard itself, there is, as our picture gallery suggests, a lot to see on this huge site, including a fascinating museum, a landscaped Mediterranean garden, a children's play area - and not least, the magnificence of the surrounding countryside.

This section consists of a practical guide to the Pont du Gard, with full information about the different ways of getting there, as well as a report on our own visit and all the things to see and do once you're on the site.

In the evenings, mainly (but not only) in summer, there are spectacular light and/or music shows of various kinds too. And where else can you swim or kayak in the shade of a millennia-old UNESCO World Heritage site?

You can read about the many special events and - where tickets are required - book them on the Pont du Gard website.

News for the Pont du GardThe main tourist season at the Pont du Gard begins in brilliant style at Easter with Garrigue en Fête, a two-day, open-air festival based in the large, landscaped Mediterranean gardens at the foot of the bridge.

We hadn't realised the sheer scope of it before, but went along one year and were mightily impressed. Dotted all around the grounds were several dozen artists of all kinds performing throughout the day.

pont du gard easter festivalThese might be an impromptu rock concert in a tiny camping tent, a "magic carpet" for tots, a brass quintet playing Scott Joplin rags or a troupe of eccentric street players creating mayhem on a giant hamster wheel, pictured.

The idea was for you to wander round and discover the various happenings for yourself, rather than to turn up for a formal event. There was a real party atmosphere and members of the public chipped in with their own music too.

Other happenings included the obligatory Easter egg hunt and special presentations on the animals living in the grounds.

You could either bring your own picnic, or pre-order a picnic basket, which was excellent value, as it was a showcase for local produce. Alternatively, you could assemble your own lunch on the spot from stalls at the large farmers' market. This was a fantastic day out and is highly recommended for both adults and kids as an Easter treat.

In summer the programme of activities continues. After a day exploring the Pont du Gard, you can enjoy an evening out by the Gardon River. The spectacular location is open until late in May-September. Bonus: the bridge is illuminated at dusk each evening.

pontdugard10And, for four evenings in June, there is a special event: Les Féeries du Pont, pictured, a lavish formal spectacle by Groupe F. Locally based but internationally famed, this company has produced some pretty stunning firework, pyrotechnical and sound and light shows.

And yes, we do know, by the way! The Pont du Gard is not, strictly speaking, in Provence. But, just across the border in the neighbouring region of Languedoc-Roussillon and a short drive from both Arles and Avignon, it is still a star destination for any visitor to southern France.

Photo credits: © A Rodriguez (Pont du Gard at sunset, picnic on the river, the water mill, inside the Museum and Ludo); O2 Prod (aerial view); Pont du Gard (canoeing); Yann de Fareins (Memories of the Garrigue); Clement Puig (music concert) and Thierry Nava for Groupe F (fireworks).

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pontdugard smallThe Pont du Gard is a major Roman monument, a masterpiece of engineering, a thing of great beauty - and much more than just a very big, very old bridge.

pont du gard smallThis page contains practical information about the Pont du Gard and an overview of the various ways of getting there if you are travelling individually rather than on a guided coach tour.

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