By Anna Geannopoulos
The Romans loved to bathe, so it is only natural that tourists who flock to the Pont Du Gard take a dip in the river. If you study at Lacoste, you’ll have an opportunity to join them on one of your many field trips throughout Provence.
The Pont Du Gard is a spectacularly preserved piece of history. Built to supply Nîmes with water during the Roman Empire, it is one of the tallest aqueduct structures of its kind still standing today. The water-ferrying system spans more than 30 miles and brought water from a spring near Uzès to the Empirical Roman city.
This brilliant piece of engineering required no mortar; the stones interlock to create three rows of columns. Although stunning, it is nothing fancy because the Romans built this for the sheer purpose of getting water to the city of Nîmes. They did this by creating an aqueduct that very gradually sloped down toward the city.
During the field trip each quarter, SCAD advertises in its itinerary “swimming for the brave.” The site itself has bathrooms where you can change into your swimsuit, a small café and a visitor center. Although the water is brisk, it is nowhere near glacier temperatures and the best way to warm up is to swim toward the arches.
Advance swimmers may be able to explore underneath the ancient structure and watch the famous provincial light dance on the stones. Water levels vary throughout the year, but don’t be disappointed if you’re stuck wadding in a kiddie-pool-size stream. Bathing in the shadow of the Pont Du Gard itself, however, is awe-inspiring.
If you are adverse to cold water, consider renting a kayak and exploring the stream via paddle. There are also nice, nearly five mile, trips available down the Gard River that start in Collias.
If you do decide to get in, expect to run into some slimy underwater foliage, and keep your eyes peeled for friendly fish and frogs. And if you don’t get in, just know that you’re missing the best view, the one you can only see when you’re floating on your back in the water gazing up at history.
Contact Anna Geannopoulos.