The Pont du Gard, an outstandingly well-preserved Roman aqueduct, bestrides the River Gard near the village of Remoulins about 25km/16mi west of Avignon. In summer access from Remoulins is only possible along the left bank of the Gard (one-way street).
The Pont du Gard is a 49m/160ft high and 275m/300yd long aqueduct, spanning the deeply incised Valley of the Gard or Gardon.
Probably built about 19 B.C. by Agrippa, the son-in-law and co-regent of the Emperor Augustus, the three-tiered construction is one of the greatest and best-preserved Roman monuments. With the exception of the topmost row, the arches are of varying widths (getting narrower from the middle outwards) and the whole structure is asymmetrical, because of the differing gradients of the two banks. In this way any kind of dull monotony is avoided. It is possible and well worth while to walk along the covered channel on the topmost row of arches, though this is only advisable for those with a head for heights. Through this channel ran the pipeline (some 50km/30mi long) taking water to Nîmes. A height difference of only 17m/56ft was possible between the water source and the distribution pipes. It is estimated that 20,000cu.m/700,000cu.ft of water flowed across the aqueduct each day. The road bridge at the same height as the first story was added in 1743.
The plan to build a "theme park" around the aqueduct has been halted, thanks to campaigns in the press and from public pressure groups. Hotels, restaurants, reconstructions of Roman buildings and parking lots were to have been built at great expense. Instead plans have been restricted to creating the necessary minimum infrastructure for the two million visitors, who come each year (a cultural-historical trail, parking lots at wide intervals), in order to counteract uncontrolled parking and a profileration of souvenir stalls and snack stands.
Vast areas of land around the Pont du Gard are covered with garrigue. Garrigue, also "garigue", in Provençal "garoulia", is mainly to be found on rocky chalk soil. This thorny scrub does not grow much over 50cm/20in. high and consists of box, thistles, oak, gorse and aromatic herbs such as thyme, lavender, sage and rosemary; hyacinths, irises, tulips and orchids also grow alongside.