The Romans built this aquaduct with incredible engineering precision in the first century to supply their colony of Nemausus (Nîmes) with water over a distance of 31 miles (50 km). Since 1985 it is included on the UNESCO list of World Heritage Sites.
The aquaduct used to carry 40,000 cubic metres (8,800,000 gallons) of water a day from spring to town, a journey that took 27 hours. Around 22 miles (35 km ) of the aqueduct was constructed below ground, often through solid rock.
The aquaduct was built out of limestone, largely without mortar or clamps. It stopped being used in the 6th century, by which time it had fallen into disrepair. It survived because it continued to be used as a toll bridge for centuries.
Pont du Gard attracted increasing numbers of tourists from the 17th century and quickly became a popular stop on the Grand Tour. This led to several restorations. It is the highest known and one of the best preserved of all Roman aquaduct bridges. By the 1990s it had become a real tourist fairground attraction, but that has since changed for the better.
It takes around 2 hours to drive from Le Fort Pouzols-Minervois to the Pont du Gard (112 miles, 181 km), most of it on the A9 from Béziers past Montpellier and Nîmes.
The ancient viaduct is one of France’s top tourist attractions. In July 2019 the Tour de France even crossed it! Traffic and buildings have been banned from its surroundings. A visitor centre and museum opened in 2000 to provide background information. For more information, visit www.pontdugard.fr.