Tour of Provence – June 11-21, 2017
Day 5 June 15 – Full day excursion to Le Pont du Gard, and lunch at La Table 2 Julien in Uzes.
The Pont du Gard is an ancient Roman aqueduct that crosses the Gardon River near the town of Vers-Pont-du-Gard in southern France. It is the highest of all elevated Roman aqueducts, and is one of the best preserved. Napoleon fixed it at one point. It was added to UNESCO’s list of World Heritage Sites in 1985.
The blocks that stick out were used to put the scaffolding on, and it was decided to leave them there, as the builder assumed, correctly, that the aqueduct would need repairing at some point in the future.
Note how high the arches of the aqueduct are – look at the size of the people walking along it.
There is a lower row of arches underneath the road.
The Pont du Gard is a Roman monument built halfway through the 1st century AD. It is the principal construction in a 50 km long aqueduct that supplied the city of Nîmes, formerly known as Nemausus, with water. Built as a three-level aqueduct standing 50 m high, it allowed water to flow across the Gardon river.
In essence, the bridge is constructed out of soft yellow limestone blocks, taken from a nearby quarry that borders the river. The highest part of the structure is made out of breeze blocks joined together with mortar. It is topped by a device designed to bear the water channel, whose stone slabs are covered with calcium deposits.
In designing this three-storey bridge, which measures 360 m at its longest point along the top, the Roman architects and hydraulic engineers created a technical masterpiece that stands today as a work of art.
It is a very well organised historical site and has the most wonderful museum – definitely worth seeing. We started at the far end and walked towards the Museum entrance. We spent about 2 hours at Le Pont du Gard, at least half of that in the museum, which was air conditioned!
I was surprised to see one display of 1st – 3rd century glass objects, unprotected from damage by the public – there were lots of school children (a class who were learning Latin) in the museum and it wouldn’t have taken much for this glass to be accidentally knocked.
The information provided was excellent. The Romans used lead pipes to pipe the water to the baths – and if anyone had water piped directly to their house, they also had lead pipes. However, as far as I could see, the fountains, where the poor people washed, were not fed with lead pipes.
I wonder if the lead in their water affected the wealthy Roman people. Nothing was mentioned in the information provided about this possibility. And of course, villages didn’t have piped water.
At the very bottom of this post, I have added 3 large photos with information that you can read if you are interested.
After leaving Le Pont du Gard, we drove for about half an hour to Uzes where we had lunch in a Michelin-ranked restaurant, La Table 2 Julien. The food was delicious, but it was just too hot out on the terrace and there was nowhere inside with enough room for us.
I had Gaspacho with mozzarella and ham tartine – it arrived with the tartine on a plate on top of the soup!
Then I had the Duck breast with cherry jus, and potato puree.
For dessert I had the Panna cotta with cherries and pistachio icecream.
It was all delicious.
Back to L’Aube Safran and for dinner we had ‘takeaways’ from Le 6 à Table – last night’s restaurant. It was simple and tasty and we enjoyed a lovely sunset for our last night there.
Here are the information panels that I found interesting at Le Pont du Gard museum.