Thursday, May 19, 2022

Can't do that anymore

This is the Pont du Gard, an ancient Roman aqueduct built over the Gardon River in Provence. Ken and I visited the monument, which is just outside the city of Nîmes, back in 1989. It was my first time there. Back then, tourists could walk across the top level at their leisure and we did. I don't think I'd do it today. As you can see from the photos, the top level is kind of narrow and has no safety rails whatsoever. Just beneath the top layer of stone is where the water flowed and visitors could also walk through the tunnel that carried it.

The Pont du Gard seen from the left bank of the Gardon. Digitized color slide, 1989.

Sometime after 1989, the top two levels were closed to visitors. You can imagine why. But I read that people can sign up for a guided tour that takes them to the top. The aqueduct is an amazing structure, especially in that it's still standing after more than two thousand years. Almost no mortar was used in its construction, another amazing fact.

Walking on top of the Pont du Gard. Digitized color slide, 1989.

I originally posted these photos on the blog back in 2007 (click on "southwest france trip" in the sidebar and scroll through). I've reworked them and made them bigger for today. Enjoy!


  1. I’m stunned that visitors were allowed up there as recently as 1989. That must have been amazing, and scary, and dangerous. Sevilla has a few sections of a Roman aqueduct in the middle of the city that wasn’t demolished until 1912... and it was in use until then.

  2. I felt queasy just looking at the second photo.

  3. Oh wow. It is not as if it is even a flat and even surface, although it looks to be at least a couple of metres wide.

  4. Just looking at it makes me nervous!

  5. One of the best things to see in Provence. Was up there in '69.


  6. This is an engineering feat as most Roman constructions. Looking at it, I wondered how Roman engineers managed to calculate the slope from the source to Nîmes so the water would flow evenly at the same rate?

  7. Practice, practice, and more practice is my guess, chm!


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