Paddle Under Pont Du Gard For The Most Amazing Views
Paddling under Pont du Gard was so much better than viewing from land alone.
PONT DU GARD, FRANCE
Caught an early train from Arles to Avignon, walked to the bus depot and bused to Pont du Gard. Dropped off in what seemed to be close to the middle of nowhere, but armed with instructions from a tour book, we made our way to Musee of Pont du Gard and used the public phone to call a canoe/kayak rental company and arranged for them to pick us up.
Our day bag, camera, lunch and shoes were placed in a water-tight container which was strapped to the canoe. Life-vests donned. Staff handed us paddles (like kayak paddles) and told us to stay on the right side of the river. Terry waded into the water, pushed out the canoe and climbed in.
Off we went, catching the swift current, and made our way, as instructed, to the right side. We took their “right side” instructions a little too seriously and ran aground. Terry got out, pushed us free and clambered back in.
White water now and then gave us a little excitement without much danger. As the river widened the current slowed and, floating at the river’s pace, we took the opportunity to retrieve our lunch and camera from the provided water-proof container. About six and a half kilometers into a most pleasant journey (having seen only one other paddler) we saw the Pont du Gard looming ahead.
The Pont du Gard is part of a Roman aqueduct built in 50AD. Back then Nimes, an important and growing provincial town, was having some difficulty keeping up with the demands for water. They needed a source of water with regular flow and of good quality. The streams, rivers and waterways, including the Gardon (the river we were floating down) were ruled out due to the irregularity of the water volume. A source was found in Uzes. The straight-line distance between Uzes and Nimes is 20km but the necessary winding aqueduct route measures some 50km; it is estimated construction took ten to fifteen years.
For nearly five centuries the aqueduct transported water. Its initial purpose was abandoned between the fifth and seventh century and the aqueduct fell victim to unrestrained pillaging as a source of building material. Sections spared correspond to areas difficult for the raiders to access.
During the Middle Ages, a new reason for being was given the structure … a toll roadway. Restorations began around 1699. Later (1743-1747) a bridge was built next to the aqueduct on the downstream side without endangering the historical site.
Upon passing under we turned and waved to the people who called out to us from the roadway above.
Arriving back for our final night in Arles, we found the grocery store closed and a group of people lined up at a white truck with “Pizza Go-Go” written on the side. When in Arles do as the Arlinians do. We were rewarded with a delicious inexpensive thin crust pizza from a guy with a pleasant friendly attitude and great smile.
We may forget some things about Hotel du Musée but well remember the tranquil surroundings, their attention to detail and how they made us feel welcome and at ease. Travelling can be tiring sometimes with so much ‘new’ to take in; time spent at Hotel du Musée allows the body and the mind to rest in preparation for another day of travel discoveries.
Address: 11 Rue du Grand Prieuré – 13200 ARLES
Phone: 00 33 (0)4 90 93 88 88
Website (English): www.hoteldumusee.com
SIGHTSEEING ON THE GARDON RIVER
KAYAK VERT PONT DU GARD
A great way to enjoy a day this area of France; take a swim, have a picnic and glide down river and pass below a historic site which most people see only see from a land perspective. Open from March to October. Recommend you reserve before going. This is an activity most can do on their own, however, it is possible to be accompanied by a guide (upon reservation).
Phone: +33 (0)4 66 22 80 76
Email: on their website
Website (English): kayakvert.com