After Avignon, we threw ourselves back in the car to try and get to the Pont du Gard before nightfall. We made it there just as the light was thinking of failing. Oh my. It was bloody glorious. It is part of a 50km aquaduct that feeds Nîmes, and winds through the countryside. The bridge only drops 2.5 cm over its 456 metre length. Over the full aquaduct length, the drop is only 17 meters. There were graffiti marks from the 1800s, especially interesting ones were up on the inside of arches - only reachable by climbing up the remaining protruding scaffolding blocks. As the sun set, we left. Stayed outside Nîmes after a quiet drive through the countryside.
|Pont du Gard|
Nîmes' most interesting locations were the coliseum, fountains, temple and guard tower. The current tower was built on a site of a previous pre-Roman tower. During the years, it has diminished in height due to poor maintenance and a dash of idiocy. At one point, some moron "interpreted" Nostradamus' prophecies to mean that there was a stash of gold hidden in the tower base. The king allowed him to excavate (as long as he got paid enough), and in the end, the idiot damaged the pre-Roman site, caused the tower to shorten by 1/3 of its original height, and forced a preservation effort to make sure the tower remained standing. What a twit.
The Nîmes temple is stunning. It is beautifully preserved on the outside, but apparently the inside only has a "movie showing". So, we decided not to go in, but admire it from the outside. The detail is shocking - and really gives a sense of the difficulty of artisan stone masonry.
We left Nîmes around noon, and spent the next 5 hours driving along back roads. Here:
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The terrain was insane. Roads would be perfect for a summer time motorcycle travel. As it was, Matt had his work cut out for him, as the roads were steep, curved, narrow and iced over in places. I had to navigate along minute roads in a national park. It was an exhausting drive for both of us. The reward in the end was the Millau viaduct - at sunset.
The Millau viaduct is an "engineering marvel". It was opened in 2004, and had been built by the Eiffage firm. It is huge! Hammond (from Top Gear) featured the Viaduct on one of his "Engineering Connections" shows.
After Millau, we decided to drive towards Bordeaux... until midnight.