Saturday, October 11, 2008

Pont du Gard

Day 381
Bagnols s Ceze to Lunel
Time: 5:04:00
Distance: 89.6 km
Avg Speed: 17.7 kph
Terrain: Flat

We’re back in the swing of things - two days in a row on the road. We also got back to eating our own breakfast rather than the hotel’s. The euro/dollar ratio is getting better but it’s still not in our favor. For the first time in over a week we started under a bluebird sky and warm temperatures.
Our route continued south and the tailwind made the short hills a little easier. We said goodbye to the Rhone River and headed towards the Gard River. Before riding on toward Nimes, we took a detour to another World Heritage site. I don’t know how many of these protected areas we’ve seen on our tour, but I think there has been one in almost every country.
Today we had the opportunity to visit the Pont du Gard. We’ve viewed this impressive structure during the Tour de France on television. It’s even more spectacular in person. The monument is also very beautiful in its simplicity. Part of a 50 kilometer long aqueduct system built by the Romans, the pont (bridge in French) took three years to build and employed 800-1,000 people. Each block of stone was cut to fit perfectly as no mortar was used in the construction. The bridge is three levels high with the top level being the water conduit. Today it is possible to tour this level which measures 6’ high by 4’ wide. The entire system supplied water to the Roman city of Nemausus (now Nimes) at a rate of 5 million gallons per day.
I think it’s good that we visited the site in October. The Pont du Gard is one of France’s top five tourist attractions and sees over 1.4 million visitors a year.
The landscape changed as we left the Gard River area and rode closer to Nimes. The small little villages were there, just overshadowed by urban development. Every once in awhile we would spot a church steeple or a clock tower.
By mid afternoon we were pedaling in shirt sleeves and taking advantage of the tailwind. No reason to stop early if your traveling over 20 kilometers per hour. It’s nice to feel like you’re not pedaling. We almost made 90 km by the time we found a hotel. We can’t seem to break away from the comfort of a bed with an attached bathroom. Maybe we’ll see about a campground tomorrow…maybe.

Happy Friday,

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