Friday, April 11, 2014

Ah, that's the Pont de Gard

The last time I was in Avignon, I was with two friends on a whirlwind tour of bits of France & Italy. We drove down from Clermont, stopped in Avignon just long enough to have a cold beverage on the square in front of the Papal palace, then hurried on down to Arles to spend the night. The line to get into the Palace was way too long, and the price of entry way too high, so we didn't linger. Or maybe it was just Dean & I who had a cold one and a wander around while Dan the popophile went in. That must be it. I vaguely recall tales of fabulous brocade.
On that trip I did want to stop and see the Pont de Gard, a rather famous bridge from the Roman era, if it was at all anywhere near our route. Alas, after sighting a couple of signs for it, we lost the trace and gave up. You can't see everything. 
Tightwads that we were at the time, it's just as well we didn't find it, because entry to the site is a whopping 18€. Reasonable for a carload if you're going to spend the day seeing not just the bridge but the museum and have a wander and a picnic in the lovely and extensive park, but not for a couple of quick snaps and we're off to the next thing on the checklist.
Ten years later I'm back, and for a good look.

The top level was an aqueduct, taking water to irrigate crops all over the region. 2000 years ago, those Italians sure knew what they were doing! The lower level was for pedestrians and other traffic, and you could still cross the old pont itself until just recently. Now, however, the monument is closed off, and a discrete bridge parallel to it allows visitors to reach the other side of the river.
After admiring the Pont, we wandered about the countryside, stopping in some of the more picturesque villages. This is Cote de Rhone wine country, and most of the rocky land is planted in grapes. In the summer these wonderfully preserved villages are nightmares of tourists with their busses and cars and whining children, but now at the beginning of April, with the vines barely beginning to leaf out, it's quite calm and pleasant.

1 comment:

GingerV said...

I have worked a jigsaw puzzle of this viaduct. Almost exactly the angle of
your first shot. Now I know where it is.