16 Jul 2013

Three bridges

Three very significant bridges visited last month-all in close proximity.
First the Pont Du Gard aqueduct outside Avignon -a major World Heritage listed Roman antiquity and an amazing feat of ancient engineering and second the Millau Viaduct -a major feat of modern civil engineering.So high above the valley that the Eifel Tower would fit underneath it.A quite beautiful bridge.British designed and French built.You turn a curve on the autoroute heading north from Montpellier and you are on it.An attractive viewing area and exhibition centre is on the north side just after you have paid the 7 Euro bridge's certainly worth the toll.Plenty of videos of the Millau viaduct on YouTube if you want to see more.
These two wonderful structures are just 100kms apart.The third bridge is the perhaps even more famous- the Pont D'Avignon is only a few kms from the Pont Du Gard.
The Pont du Gard was World Heritage listed in 2000 and before that I gather that access was very casual and indeed the locals had used the bridge as a sort of quarry for hundreds of years.It is only the fact that removing more stones was extremely dangerous that prevented it being totally disassembled over the centuries.Much of the aqueduct which ran through the countryside to and from the bridge was "recycled" as building materials over the years so only a few short sections remain.
When Roger Putnam visited it in 1959 see Pont Du Gard you could walk across the top level.Now it is closed and although there is a notice which says that it is under restoration I am sure that it will never reopen due to safety concerns.I visited the Pont Du Gard on a rather gloomy day and I tried to get an unusual angle on it but it proved impossible so I had to revert to a standard tourist viewpoint which was a nuisance but at least I did not drive there in a Dutch registered small car pulling a caravan like many of the other visitors that day.With the Pont d'Avignon I was up early and photographed it without the crowds.

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