ABOVE: The Pont du Gard was the centerpiece of
a 50-km (30-mile) waterworks built by the Romans in 14 to 15 B.C.
Pont du Gard Roman Aqueduct, France
The Roman aqueduct of Pont du Gard was one of the high
points of our "French Vineyards & Vistas" cruise on the MS Maribelle.
The drive from Arles took about an hour, culminating at a modern visitor center
with a handful of shops. Then, after a walk along a gravel path, we reached the
aqueduct itself--and the monument was far more impressive up close than we'd
ever imagined from photographs.
For one thing, the aqueduct was--and is--huge. The bridgelike
structure has three rows of arches, one atop the other, and stands 49 meters or
160 feet high (about the height of a 16-story building). The arches are built
with massive stones that were hauled to the aqueduct's river crossing
and fixed in place without mortar. (The projections used to hold
scaffolding have survived nearly two millennia, along with Roman numerals and
other identifying marks on the custom-shaped stones.)
The Pont du Gard was merely one part of a 50-km or 30-mile
system of covered stone canals that transported water from the Eure river to the
city of Nîmes. If you cross the 18th Century
stone bridge that parallels the aqueduct's lower level and climb the stairs on
the other side, you can see the water channel in the top course of arches and a
tunnel that once carried water through the stone mountainside.
Following our trip to Pont du Gard,
we returned to Arles, where we had about an hour to explore the compact city
center before the MS Maribelle returned to Avignon at 6:30 p.m.
The ship arrived back in Avignon in
late evening, with bundled-up passengers braving cold weather to join hands and
sing "Sur le Pont d'Avignon" on the Sun Deck as the MS Maribelle
sailed past Avignon's floodlit medieval bridge of Pont Saint Benezet.
information on the Pont du Gard, see:
Photos: Pont du Gard
These are from the 169 images in my MS Maribelle
Pont du Gard
MS Maribelle photo