Visiting Pont du Gard: An Old Roman Aqueduct

Visiting Pont du Gard is an opportunity to see a 2000 year old Roman aqueduct of absolutely incredible proportions in southern France.

In pictures you can tell the scale is enormous, but when visiting Pont du Gard in real life, standing there dwarfed by this monumental structure, it’s hard not to be stunned by it.

I mean, look at this:

A woman in a white skirt and blue shirt stands on the rocks in front of a old rock/stone aqueduct.

We decided to do a day trip to Pont du Gard when we were staying in Aix-en-Provence, and it was just a delightful outing. You can also easily visit as a day trip from Marseille, or even as a trip while visiting Nice. Here’s everything you need to know about visiting Pont du Gard.

Getting to Pont du Gard

First off, Pont du Gard is located in the countryside, about 45 minutes to the west of the city of Avignon. There are buses from Nimes and Avignon that will take you there, and there is also a new train station (Nimes Pont du Gard) that you can arrive at. Use the SNCF site to look up train timetables.

For us, since we were staying in Aix-en-Provence, which would be less direct with bus, and before the train option became available, we chose to use a rental car to get there. 

On the drive to Pont du Gard, we drove through the pretty French countryside, through several very small villages, past many vineyards, and on picturesque tree-lined streets. There are several turns to get there, so having navigation on is definitely advised.

A cement road with trees lined up on both sides making a tunnel like experience.

When we reached Pont du Gard, there was a very large parking lot (free) and a ticket center to get tickets. After purchasing tickets (9.50 euro for adults) you walk down a short trail that goes through some trees, past some large overhangs/caves (that show evidence of ancient use), curves around, and opens to the aqueduct.

I liked this because you don’t see the aqueduct until you are right there! And then there it is, straddling the river in its majesty, surrounded by hills and quiet countryside. Such a cool sight.

A man and woman hold hands standing in front of the old stone aqueduct which is one of the coolest things to see in the area.

Six Ways to Enjoy Visiting Pont du Gard Aqueduct:

1.  Take a picture in front of it

This is the easiest, and perhaps obvious choice, but is still a must and a great way to spark memories of the experience later. The best vantage point to capture the whole view is from the walkway leading up to Pont du Gard.

2. Walk across it

The lower level has a pretty wide walkway that allows you to get up close and personal with the aqueduct. It’s really cool to walk under the arches and admire the craftsmanship of the structure.

It’s amazing to realize that this bridge built two thousand years ago is still standing and in such good repair. The engineering behind it is mind-blowing to me – it’s actually three bridges stacked on top of each other and contains more than 50,000 tons of rock.

You’ll notice that there have been some repairs, but not many; it really has stood up remarkably well.  You can take time to both admire the bridge and also enjoy the view as you look out over the river Gardon. Such a wonderful experience!

A woman walks along an old roman aqueduct with a luscious tree covered coastline on the beaches below.
A man reaches up to touch the old stone roman aqueduct which is significantly taller than him

3. Hike up to the top

On both sides of the aqueduct there are stairs/paths you can use to hike up to the very top. Beyond gaining a new perspective on the bridge, you also get to see the section where the water actually flows.

A stone path along the top of the aqueduct which then leads to a tunnel.
The channel at the very top where the water actually flowed

That was something that blew me away, actually, to realize that this amazing structure was really all just to support this little channel at the top. This few feet wide and deep trough is the actual aqueduct and you can see it extending into the hills on either side, now just this small structure.

There are some hiking paths you can follow on the east side to explore the hills:

A man stands on the stairs leading up a large tree filled hill that leads to a view of the aqueduct.

4. Walk the paths

On the west side of the aqueduct there is another fun path that hugs the side of the hill, and there’s even a cool little tunnel to walk through. It was a little unclear if the tunnel was also part of the aqueduct or if it was made later (I think it is more recent), but it’s fun to imagine the Romans building a bridge and then a tunnel, too. 

A stone tunnel leading through a large piece of rock on a hike with a rocky grey trail.

5. Head down on the rocks to the water’s edge

There are a lot of rocks and a lot of shoreline that you can play on and hang out on. It makes a great place for a picnic lunch and a great view back up toward Pont du Gard.

The roman aqueduct from the ground next to the river with blue-green water with reflections of the trees on the shore.

6. Eat at the café

Alternatively, if you don’t want to do a picnic, there is a really cute café on the grounds just before the aqueduct that you could grab lunch or a snack at.

A woman stands on the aqueduct looking out at the river and buildings leading away from the aqueduct.

Practical Information

Getting To and From Pont du Gard

There are a few options on how to get to Pont du Gard. Here is my breakdown on each of them.

Car

Renting a car gives you the most flexibility, but it is also the most hands-on option (need to navigate, find parking, etc). Thankfully, driving in France is fairly straightforward, road conditions are good, and traffic on the freeways isn’t bad at all.

This is the option we used when we visited Pont du Gard, since the train station was not open yet and buses didn’t run easily from Aix-en-Provence to Pont du Gard.

Most cars in France are manual transmission, so if that’s going to be a problem you’ll want to make your car reservation for automatic as early as possible (limited number of automatic cars) and be prepared to spend a little more. Check current rental car rates here

Train

A new train station has opened near Pont du Gard – called Nimes-Pont-du-Gard. However, the station is actually 15 miles from the aqueduct and would require a shuttle or taxi after taking the train. Still, it’s fairly direct and you don’t have to mess with parking, tolls, driving in narrow old towns, or navigating.

Bus

This is the cheapest option, and can be a good option if you are staying nearby. There are direct buses from Nimes, Uzes, and Avignon to Pont du Gard. If you are staying at one of these cities, the bus is a good option! If you aren’t, I think it’s too much hassle to be worth using the bus.

Book a Small Group Tour

This small group tour takes you to several of the old Roman sites in Provence – Pont du Gard, Nimes, and Uze. It’s a great option if you don’t want to deal with any logistics or if you just like having your own personal tour guide! Get more details here

Final Thoughts on Visiting Pont du Gard

All told, we spent about 2-3 hours here. I think visiting Pont du Gard is a great half-day trip! You can spend longer, especially if you want to do some more extensive hiking, but I don’t think you need more time than that here if you just want the essentials.

I’m really, really glad we came and visited Pont du Gard aqueduct. The architectural ingenuity was so impressive and it was situated in a really lovely section of the Provence countryside. If you are nearby, its definitely worth the trip out!

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