When I was planning my recent trip to France, so many people told me that a highlight of their own trip had been “driving out to that amazing Roman aqueduct, Pont du Gard”. I would always smile, and then silently stress out about whether or not I would be able to see it too, since I was traveling in France without a car. Fortunately, I discovered that it’s very easy to take a bus to Pont du Gard from both Nimes and Avignon!
You don’t have to miss out on this UNESCO World Heritage Site just because you’re using public transportation to travel around France. Below, I’ll explain exactly how to take the bus to Pont du Gard from both Nimes and Avignon, as well as what to expect when you visit the site without a car, and how to make the most of your time at Pont du Gard.
The Bus to Pont du Gard from Nimes
I traveled to Pont du Gard by bus from Nimes. The bus from Nimes to Pont du Gard is #121, and it departs from the bus station, or Gare Routiere, behind the central train station.
The most up-to-date bus routes are on the liO website here. You’ll need to choose the region “30 – Gard” and then select 121 from the icons below. That will pull up the PDFs of the bus schedules. Look for a bus that starts at Nimes – Gare Routiere and also has a scheduled stop at Vers-Pont-du-Gard – Rond Point Pont du Gard. The letters at the top of each column tell you the days that the bus runs according to the schedule. Generally speaking:
- LaV means “lundi a vendredi”, or Monday to Friday
- S refers to “samedi” or Saturday
- D is for “dimanche”, or Sunday
However, some routes run only on regional market days and might include/exclude a specific weekday. As well, some buses only run on school days, or during the holiday period. Use the calendar on the second page of the document to figure out what period you’re traveling in, and then double-check that there’s a dot in that color of the row at the top of the schedule.
I know this sounds confusing, but it’s actually really easy! If you don’t understand the schedule your accommodation or the Tourist Information office can help you out.
French bus bays are called quais. When you arrive at the Gare Routiere, check the large signs to see which quai your bus will be leaving from (my bus left from Quai 8, as you can see above). The station is pretty small, so arriving ten minutes before the scheduled departure should be sufficient.
The bus to Pont du Gard from Nimes cost €1.50 each way. You can buy your ticket directly on board from the driver, but you’ll need to have small change. You can’t buy your return ticket until your return journey.
The bus from Nimes to Pont du Gard takes about fifty minutes, and drops you at a roundabout point called Vers-Pont du Gard, which you can see on Google Maps here. Technically, you’ll be dropped off at the side of the road near the Les Voutes restaurant, so to reach the bridge you’ll cross the street behind the bus and follow the small road (labeled D981 on that Google Map) towards the bridge.
From the bus stop, it’s a ten-minute walk to the entry to the site, and another ten minutes to the bridge itself. Plan accordingly for the return journey, which departs from the actual Vers-Pont du Gard bus stop linked above and shown in the photo immediately above.
The Bus to Pont du Gard from Avignon
Taking the bus to Pont du Gard from Avignon is very similar to taking the bus from Nimes, so please read what I’ve written above!
The main difference is the bus number, which is #115. You can access the schedule by clicking here, setting your region to #30 – Gard, and looking for the 115 button.
The bus to Pont du Gard from Avignon takes about 35 minutes. Like the bus from Nimes, it costs €1.50 each way and you’ll buy your ticket on board from the driver.
In Avignon, buses leave from the Gare Routiere, which is beside the train station, sort of underneath the Ibis hotel. Inside the station there are TVs showing the upcoming departures and the quai, or bay, the bus will leave from. Although there is a ticket window in the station, they don’t sell tickets from Avignon to Pont du Gard; you’ll need cash to buy it on the bus.
The bus from Avignon to Pont du Gard stops at the same roundabout as the bus from Nimes, but the drop-off and pick-up spots may be slightly different than shown above. When you get off the bus, ask the driver to point in the direction of the return stop.
Things to Do at Pont du Gard
If you take the bus to Pont du Gard from Nimes or Avignon, you’ll start by walking ten minutes from the highway to the site (entrance shown above). There are sidewalks the entire way, and there’s a little bit of shade.
If you come to Pont du Gard by car, you’ll first need to get parked, and then you’ll want to pay for your parking (€9 per day at press time).
Then, you can decide what you want to do at Pont du Gard. You could go directly to the famous Roman aqueduct, you could visit the museum and cinema in the cultural center, or you could sign up for a guided tour of the UNESCO World Heritage Site.
The Roman Aqueduct Bridge
Admission to Pont du Gard is free!
You don’t have to pay any money to visit the aqueduct. If you’re on a budget, you can get by on as little as €3 for the entire day (€1.50 each way for the bus to Pont du Gard) if you pack your own food and water.
To head straight to the aqueduct, pass through the covered tourist center (past the ticket office – you don’t need to stop there, past the cafe and past the gift shop) then follow the trail for ten minutes to the bridge. Along the way you’ll pass three large olive trees on your right; these trees are more than 1,000 years old and were transplanted here from Spain to celebrate the 200th anniversary of the French Revolution.
When you reach the Pont du Gard, prepare to be impressed. The aqueduct bridge spans about 275 meters and is about 50 meters above the water below. It was constructed over a period of about five years, in the first century AD, without any mortar to hold the stones together – gravity does that job!
The pedestrian bridge that you can cross is not part of the original aqueduct; it was built in the 18th century. If you want to ascend to the upper levels, you’ll need to sign up for an organized tour (see below).
Swimming Underneath Pont du Gard
For me, a major highlight of my trip by bus to Pont du Gard was swimming in the Gardon River, underneath the aqueduct. I would have been crushed if I had come all the way out here and not swam, so if you like the water even just a little bit, and if the weather is even moderately good, plan to swim at Pont du Gard.
If you come by bus you have to be smart about your swimwear. I wore my bathing suit under my clothes that day, so I didn’t have to worry about changing into my swimwear. When I was finished swimming, I went to a quiet part of the beach, used my favorite travel towel (this Turkish town from Amazon) like a robe, took off my swimsuit and put on the underwear I’d packed, then the clothes I’d worn earlier that day. I packed a few old plastic bags to keep my wet swimsuit and towel from soaking my phone and wallet.
I also brought a pair of water shoes with me. I’d say that about half the locals there were wearing them and half weren’t. If you have sensitive feet and don’t like walking on wet stones (or feeling slippery river plant life between your toes!) then I’d suggest bringing water shoes too.
The swimming here is great for swimmers of all ability levels. Most of the river was quite shallow when I visited in Summer 2022, so you could easily wade out to waist or shoulder level to cool off, and there’s lots of safe places for children to splash around. The river is quite narrow, so you can swim from side to side in a minute or two. And if you like jumping or diving off rocks, follow the crowds of teenagers to the rocks under the aqueduct, watch them hurl themselves in (they know the deepest and safest parts) and then go for it! As a fearless female traveler, I had to give it a try, and I was so glad I did (even if I wasn’t very graceful getting out of the water afterwards!).
Hiking at Pont du Gard
There are lots of wide, well-marked walking and hiking trails around Pont du Gard. The information office at the entrance can show you the two most popular routes: The Aqueduct Trail (3.5 km) and Memories of the Garrigue (1.5 km). AllTrails can help you plan other, longer routes. Even if you don’t want to go hiking, I still recommend that you wear sturdy walking or running shoes on the day of your visit. I almost wore sandals but changed my mind just as I was leaving my hotel in the morning; I was so glad I opted for running shoes instead.
Pont du Gard Museum
All of the things to do at Pont du Gard that I’ve already mentioned have been totally free. It’s only here, at the museum and cinema on the Rive Gauche, or left bank, that you have to pay to visit. A combined ticket for both the museum and the cinema is €6.50, and there’s no need to buy them online in advance.
The Pont du Gard museum is an overarching look at the importance of water to the Roman settlements at the time of the aqueduct’s construction, as well as an in-depth look at how the aqueduct was constructed. It has artifacts (mostly facsimiles), videos, audio presentations, large and small models and several interactive stations. I spent about forty-five minutes going through the museum, but I’ve heard some people spend two or three hours inside (I think it depends on your interest in Roman history and/or engineering).
Pont du Gard Cinema
Beside the Pont du Gard museum you’ll find the Pont du Gard cinema. Every fifteen minutes it shows a short film about the construction and the history of the aqueduct. I didn’t have time to watch the movie, but staff told me that it was kid-friendly (I believe it’s narrated by a dragonfly) and it is in French with English subtitles. If you’ve got children, this is an idea place to duck in for an escape from the summer heat.
For both the Pont du Gard cinema and the museum, you’ll need to get your hand stamped if you want to exit the facility and re-enter later.
Pont du Gard Guided Tour
Again, it’s totally free to visit Pont du Gard, walk across the 18th-century pedestrian bridge along its lower deck, and swim in the river beneath the aqueduct. You only have to pay money if you want to visit the museum or cinema, or if you want to take a guided tour.
Guided tours cover much of the same information that is shared in the museum (but in a much more succinct way). The real reason you might want to pay for a guided tour of Pont du Gard is that this is the only way to actually go up to the top of the aqueduct and cross it on the top level, inside the troughs where water once flowed. Much of the upper level is covered (tall travelers, you’ll have to duck) but there are some gaps in the stone to let in the natural light, and there are amazing viewpoints at both ends.
Guided tours of Pont du Gard can be booked day-of if there is availability, but you’d be smart to reserve your spot in advance on the official website here. Tours run in English and French, and they take about one hour. For me, it was worth to to pay the €15 for the tour (which, by default, is a combined ticket that includes the museum and cinema as well).
How much time do you need at Pont du Gard?
I caught the 9:30 am bus from Nimes to Pont du Gard, and returned on the 15:30 bus. I used my time like this:
- 9:30 – Depart Nimes on Bus #121
- 10:35 – Arrive and buy tickets for the 11:30 walking tour
- 10:45 – 11:30 – Pont du Gard Museum
- 11:30 – 12:30 – Guided walking tour of Pont du Gard (ending on the opposite side of the river)
- 12:30 – 1:30 – Lunch at Les Terraces
- 1:30 – 2:55 – Swimming at Pont du Gard
- 2:55 – 3:20 – Walk back to bus stop
- 3:30 – Catch the #121 bus from Pont du Gard to Nimes
- 4:20 – Arrive in Nimes
That was a good amount of time for me, especially since it was a very hot and sunny day. If it had been a little bit cooler (like, thirty degrees instead of forty degrees!) I would have been happy to spend another 90 minutes swimming in the river, and I would have stopped at the cinema on my way back (remember to get your hand stamped if you want to re-enter the cultural complex).
Restaurants at Pont du Gard
If you come by bus to Pont du Gard, you’ll have three dining options right on site:
- Les Terrasses Pont du Gard – This is where I ate lunch, but I was very lucky they could squeeze me in on a Saturday afternoon. Reservations are recommended! This is a relatively upscale restaurant with a small menu of appetizers, main dishes and desserts, which can be combined into a multi-course lunch menu. At the time of my visit they didn’t have any vegetarian options, but they were able to modify their meal-sized salad by taking off the ham.
- Les Terrasses Cafe – Beside the restaurant shown above, Les Terrasses has a smaller canteen-style restaurant with pre-made sandwiches and salads that you can take from the fridge and pay for at the counter. By the time I finished lunch at 1:30 they had sold out of almost everything, so either go early or have a back-up plan.
- The Snack Bar – Located in the tourist center on the Left Bank, this is another canteen-style restaurant with sandwiches, salads and baked goods to buy at the counter and take to your table. They were also serving crepes when I visited.
The website lists a number of other restaurants, but I didn’t see them during my visit so I’m not sure if the site is outdated or if they’re a little bit further afield. Either way, the three I listed above are definitely the easiest and best options for anyone coming to Pont du Gard by bus.
Hotels at Pont du Gard
Obviously I didn’t stay in Pont du Gard overnight, since I came on the bus from Nimes as a day trip. However, I would have been happy to stay here overnight if the weather forecast was good, as I swear I could have swam under that aqueduct for the rest of my life! If I was going back to stay overnight, I’d look at these hotels:
- Le Mas de Mon Pere is probably the only hotel within walking distance of both the bus stop and the aqueduct. I love little family-run hotels in France, and this one has great reviews.
- La Bastide de Pins is another little gem of a countryside guesthouse, but it’s a bit further away and would probably be better for travelers with cars.
- Le Vieux Castillon would be my choice for a luxury stay, such as an anniversary or honeymoon. It’s a few minutes away from Pont du Gard in nearby Castillon-du-Gard, and as its name suggests, you’ll feel like you’re staying in an actual castle in this historic property! You’ll definitely need a car here.
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