A Trip to France 5: Pont du Gard

by Brenda W. Clough

 This beautiful site is not actually a bridge, as its name indicates. It’s actually an aqueduct, a fantastic work of engineering that supplied water to the regional Roman capital of Nimes. Later on, the medieval residents repurposed the lower tier to support a footbridge over the river Gard, hence the name.

Pont du Gard is not only a World Heritage site, it’s one of the main glories of France, and as such it has rated a vast and state of the art museum and guided tours right through the water channel at the very top of the structure. It is just barely tall enough to walk through, and very narrow, but passable. We walked across and then had lunch on the terrace on the other side, from which I took the first picture.

 The very different site we went to in the afternoon is Ambrussum, also a bridge and a town as well. But because it’s decidedly unglitzy it didn’t get as much love. But we were able to walk on the rue Domitia, which is in surprisingly good shape for a road that was made two thousand years ago. I have seen driveways in my home state that look shoddier than this Roman road, which originally connected Italy with Spain. And the remaining arch of the Ambrussum bridge is unutterably Impressionist. Can you see the water lilies, lower right? Artists have perched here for years, I am sure, with their oil paints and easels; if I had the time I would. The water was the color of every blue and green jewel you have ever seen.

 

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About Brenda Clough

Brenda W. Clough spent much of her childhood overseas, courtesy of the U.S. government. Her first fantasy novel, The Crystal Crown, was published by DAW in 1984. She has also written The Dragon of Mishbil (1985), The Realm Beneath (1986), and The Name of the Sun (1988). Her children’s novel, An Impossumble Summer (1992), is set in her own house in Virginia, where she lives in a cottage at the edge of a forest. Her novel How Like a God, available from BVC, was published by Tor Books in 1997, and a sequel, Doors of Death and Life, was published in May 2000. Her latest novels from Book View Cafe include Revise the World (2009) and Speak to Our Desires. Her novel A Most Dangerous Woman is being serialized by Serial Box. Her novel The River Twice is newly available from BVC.

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A Trip to France 5: Pont du Gard — 2 Comments

  1. My college roommate and I visited the Pont du Gard in 1989. At that time, one could walk on TOP of the aqueduct — open to the sky, without railings on either side. My roommate was brave, but I was not. (The water channel was more than interesting enough for me!)

    Ah, the folly of youth… At least my roommate survived to tell the tale!

  2. OMG, Mindy. I can hardly imagine doing such a thing. Nowadays they keep that level locked, so that you can’t even walk along the channel without the tour guide.