Sunday, June 01, 2014

Pont du Gard

In the morning, we locate our car, grateful it has not been broken into yet, and head out to Provence. Our first stop is the Pont du Gard, an incredible feat of engineering and construction.  In ancient times, aqueducts heralded the greatness of Rome and carried water to cities for luxurious baths, fountains and sanitation. This Roman aqueduct was built around 19bc as the link of a 30 mile canal, carrying 9 million gallons of water each day for 150 years to Nimes, one of ancient Europe's largest cities. It is a massive bridge spanning a canyon, now one of the most impressive surviving Roman ruins. We walk from the left bank up to the top, then down and across the bridge to the right bank. Families are below, on the small sandy beaches, sunbathing, swimming and kayaking. At the other end, teenagers jump of the cliff into a deep pool below. The bridge is 160 ft high with 3 tiers of arches and columns,  originally 1,100 ft long, with stones weighing 6 tons each forming the arches which were constructed without mortar. There is an excellent museum that provides us with a lot of information about its construction and leaves us in awe of the magnitude of the project. We spend about 3 hours there.

We wind our way through small towns and decide to have a quick meal at McDonalds as we are not sure restaurants will be open for dinner; it is sunday again. Our destination is a tiny town about a half an hour east of Avignon, called Roussillon, which sits atop ocre cliffs. Our hotel, Hotel Sable D'ocres is set on lovely grounds surrounding a pool. The town has a few meandering streets, lined with buildings of ocre and other pastel  colors.  I spend the evening photographing the sunset and the evening light; the colors are magical.


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