Pont du Gard site awarded the title of « Grand Site de France® »
In 2004, the Pont du Gard site was awarded the « title of 'Grand site de France®' » by the French Minister of Ecology.
This title highlights the importance the site places on sustainable development. The title was renewed in 2010.
In France, only eight other sites have so far received this title, They are :
- L’Aven d’Orgnac (2004, renewed 2010)
- Bibracte Mont-Beuvray (2007)
- La Pointe du Raz (2004)
- Le Puy de Dôme (2008)
- Le Marais Poitevin (2010)
- Saint Guilhem le Désert - Gorges de l'Hérault (2010)
- Sainte Victoire (2004)
- Les Deux caps Blanc Nez – Gris Nez (2010)
The title « Grand Site de France® »
The holders of the Grands sites de France® title have several things in common. They are all world-renowned, regarded as cultural treasures and belong to a short list of Europe’s most desirable tourist attractions. They are protected by a law dating from May 2nd, 1930, which focuses on the protection of natural monuments and sites of historical, scientific, legendary or artistic interest.
The aim of this title is to ensure that great sites, such as the Pont du Gard, continue to be recognised as places of excellence where environmental treasures have been preserved alongside a a historical legacy, and where visitors are made to feel welcome.
In 2000, the Réseau des Grands Sites de France, ('Network of Great Sites of France') was created, enabling organisations sharing similar aims to come together under one umbrella. In 2002 the state created the title of « Grand site de France® ». This raised the standing of notable sites in France. The title was recognised by France’s Environmental code in 2010.
Conditions that led to the title being awarded to the Pont du Gard
The rehabilitation of the Pont du Gard site, completed in 2002, brought the following changes:
- The restoration of existing ancient buildings and pathways,
- The creation of new architectural features,
- A plan to reduce traffic, road signs and itinerant traders.
Two buildings were erected near the site’s access area, one on each bank of the Gardon. Neither is visible from the Pont du Gard.
Finally, the old Labourel hotel at the Pont du Gard (built in 1865) was renovated and converted into a restaurant serving local specialities. This became the « Les Terrasses » restaurant.
The site has been under state protection since May 12th, 1932. The protected area has, since 1993, covered 407 hectares encircling the Pont du Gard. This stretch of land is known as Le Pont du Gard et ses abords' ('The Pont du Gard and its surroundings').
Receiving the title in 2004 was testament to the amount of hard work put into the site by its organisers. This work included :
- A large restructuring project,
- Several big projects that enabled the recovery of land damaged as a result of poor practices in the past,
- Careful attention paid to welcoming visitors, in keeping with the standards expected of an important cultural site.
A remarkable landscape spanning 165 hectares
The exceptional, well-preserved environment in which the Pont du Gard stands is an attraction in itself. Visitors can appreciate the beauty of the Roman monument as a highlight within its natural surroundings.
The Pont du Gard site receives 1,400,000 visitors a year. The importance of preserving such a great scenic, historical and archaeological legacy, coupled with promoting interest in it as a tourist attraction, is at the heart of the thinking behind the management of the Pont du Gard, Grand site de France®.
The Pont du Gard is embedded into a particular type of landscape, forest and Garrigue environment. This is a typical Mediterranean ecosystem that results from the interaction of two factors: the limestone subsoil and the type of climate that has hot, dry summers. You can also take our walking tour « Mémoires de Garrigue » , which will help you to better understand just how the landscape has been shaped by humans.