Timeless magic and a national treasure
Though principally known for its unusually large and well-preserved aqueduct, the Pont du Gard is also noted for its remarkable natural beauty. You may discover its magic on the banks of the river Gardon or in the majesty of the Garrigues. Be transported to a more pastoral time in these peaceful surroundings amid the trickle of streams that meander through the astonishing Mediterranean landscape.
The Garrigues, a unique landscape
See where two geological worlds collide against the rocky backdrop of the Garrigues, blessing the scene with different natural environments. Discover how the landscape changes from one bank of the Gardon to the other.
With its rocky and arid features, the left bank is distinguished by rehabilitated ancient farmland, which today is decked in holly oaks and grassland.
Here, we can observe the effects of ancient cultivation techniques and appreciate how the land has evolved as a result of the combined activity of humans and nature.
Traces of human activity remain visible today through the presence of small clusters of farming plots around the Pont du Gard. These are reminiscent of days gone by and reveal a history of wheat, vine and olive cultivation in the area, all typical of Mediterranean agriculture.
After they were abandoned, time and the Garrigue itself began to encroach on these ancient agricultural lands. Recent efforts were made to reclaim the land, revealing dry stone walls and culverts buried beneath the soil.
Follow the river's flow
On the opposite side of the Gardon, the right bank has a completely different natural look. It is bordered by century-old plane trees and opens onto an endless floodplain.
Short cliffs cast sharp shadows across sheltered forested valleys. This splits the landscape into a patchwork of rocks jutting out amid the varied natural vegetation.
The great Gardon flood of autumn 2002
Flooding swamped the river banks in 2002. The right bank suffered the most disastrous effects. The flood carried away much of the vegetation from the river’s banks. It stripped the rock, removing all traces of plant life.
The white and eroded limestone urgonian rock hangs over the river. Further downstream, away from the bridge, it gives way to wide gravel and silt beaches.
Where land and water meet, the Pont du Gard opens its doors to greet you. Discover an exceptional site, in a magical setting that is yours to explore when you visit one of the south of France’s greatest ancient monuments.
A rich and diverse setting
Numerous natural features make the scenery at the Pont du Gard exceptional:
- The Gardon river with its banks and gravel pits, situated around the monument,
- The Garrigue
- The riverside forest
- The cliffs and grottos
- The agricultural land
- The forest of holly oaks
Each of these different environments is a natural habitat, product of the Mediterranean climate, the type of soil and human activity.
- At the water’s edge you can admire herons, little egrets, swallows and kingfishers.
- From on top of the monument you can admire the acrobatic prowess of the alpine swift.
- The riverside forest
- Those with a watchful eye and a bit of luck will spot a famous protected animal, the beaver.
- Around the Garrigue, keep a look-out for the Bonelli eagle flying above. A trained ear will notice the hoopoe’s distinctive song. Let the white-flowered arbutus with its winter-ripening fruit captivate you. Let the cotton-like cystus with its delicate pink flowers enchant you, and the perfume of juniper wood pacify you.
Awarded the title 'Grand Site de France'
The Pont du Gard has an extraordinary natural heritage. 165 hectares of fragile natural environment, including the Garrigue and holly oak forest, are protected by laws (dating back to 1930) passed to ensure environmental safekeeping.
The title of Grand Site de France was awarded to the site in 2004 and renewed in 2010. This bestowed a great honour on this natural space. It also ensures that this remarkable landscape will continue to be protected.
A 'Natura 2000' site
The Pont du Gard site was included in a 7,000 hectare area referred to as the 'Natura 2000 Gorges du Gardon', that has a special protection zone (SPZ) and a proposed site of community interest (pSCI). The special status was bestowed on the site on account of its variety of diverse habitats, such as the Gardon river, many gorges and the Garrigue. These enable the survival of many treasured species – both animal (beaver, fish, birds...) and vegetable (holly oaks, Judas trees...).