The Roman aqueduct is not only one of the most visited tourist attractions in France but also one of the best preserved bridges from the Roman Empire. The aqueduct crosses the the Gardon river and beside the impressive monument you find there a beautiful nature to discover. This kayak tour is perfect for everybody who likes the combination of exciting paddle tours on rivers and some sightseeing.
This tour leads us from a camping site near Callois to the Pont du Gard. The slim river with its countless windings and the flat rock formations on the banks makes this tour something very special. Especially in spring and in the beginning of summer white water beginners will love this route thanks to the strong current. The highlight of this tour is without doubt the aqueduct from the Roman Empire. We will not only go through this bridge with our kayak but we will also land on the bank and cross the bridge by foot.
With a total distance of 5.6 km (3.5 miles) the tour is very comfortable to paddle and gives you plenty of time for breaks and relaxing near the water. Be aware that going back with the kayak against the current is only possible during the hot season in summer. All in all, this tour is a perfect fit for people who love nature and history but don’t like to do a physical demanding tour.
Key facts about the paddling tour
2 – 3 hours
Ancient Roman aqueduct bridge
no traffic noise
hilly river landscape
Planning the tour
The basis of every good paddle tour is a good planning in advance. You should know which are the best months for the tour, where to find exit points on the river and if there are any kayak rental stations nearby. In the following, we are going to tell you why we have done this tour in the late summer and why we used an inflatable kayak.
Right conditions for the paddling tour
In general, it’s possible to do the tour between Callois and Pont du Gard between March and October. A big impact on your tour preparation has the month when you want to do this tour. In late summer and autumn the water level is quite low and consequently the current is much weaker. That’s the perfect time for everybody who doesn’t like white water paddling at all. And it’s also the perfect condition to paddle all the way back from Pont du Gard to Callois.
In spring and early summer the water level is quite high and the current quite strong. You won’t be able to paddle against the current but you are able to enjoy the fun of some white water paddling. We have made this tour in beginning of September and could easily paddle back to our start point, which is definitely a big advantage when going with your own boat.
Avoiding mass tourism
Especially during the summer months we recommend you to start the tour in the late afternoon because before there are many guided kayak and canoe tours on the same way heading to the Pont du Gard.
Kayak rental or your own inflatable
There are some kayak rental stations near Pont du Gard. So, if you can’t bring your own boat, then renting one is a good way to go. Most of them offer also guided tours. Starting point of most tours are Callois. So, it’s a 7 km (4.5 miles) distance to the Pont du Gard. When arriving at Pont du Gard they will manage the transport with the boats and get you back to Callois. So, it’s quite comfortable and for starting from 24€ per person quite affordable at the same time. Canoe Collais and Kayak Vert are two stations to check out when you want to rent a kayak.
We have done this tour with our inflatable kayak from Gumotex, the Swing 2. The big advantage of an inflatable is the flexibility. You can start your tour whenever you want and you can just take your time without worrying about openings. In this way, we were able to start this tour around 6 PM when all paddle tourists from the rental stations have already finished the tour. We had literally the complete river and the bank near the Pont du Gard just for us.
In the summer there are some spots where the water level is really low and you possibly touch the ground with the boat. Of course, with a hard-shell boat it’s not a problem but you may get worried when paddling with an inflatable. That’s why you should use a high quality inflatable kayak with a resistant boat skin, like from Advanced Elements or Sea Eagle. Cheap entry level kayaks may take easily damage because they are not made for river paddling.
Camping sites near Pont du Gard
If you like camping, then you will love this trip. Most of the camp sites are directly on the river bank. We can highly recommend the camp site called Campfun where we stayed the night. It’s family friendly, clean and modern and has got even a little restaurant. The closeness to the river makes it a perfect base camp for a paddle tour.
But for everybody who prefers having a proper bed and doesn’t want to stay too far away from the Pont du Gard, we would suggest staying at the village Callois. You don’t find only some hotels there but also a few shopping possibilities, a bakery and a post office. Since it’s only a day tour, you could stay also at Nîmes. Nîmes is the city that was supplied with water from the Pont du Gard. But nature and camping fans should rather stay at least one night in this beautiful spot around the bridge.
Getting to Gardon
If you arrive at Paris by plane the easiest way is to take a direct high speed trains to Avignon. Another possibility is to arrive at the airport of Marseille, where you could get a rental car and then it takes you only 1h 15 mins to the Pont du Gard. From Avignon it’s even closer by car and it takes approximately 30 mins to the paddle destination.
For everybody who doesn’t like driving should take a coach. From Marseille you go with Ouibus or Flixbus to Nîmes. In Nîmes you have to change and take the local bus line 21 to the Pont du Gard. For everybody who travels from Avignon takes the local bus line A15.
Our tour to the Pont du Gard
We started the tour at the campsite Campfun from you can easily get into the water with your board because there is just like a little beach. At the beginning of the course there are some stronger currents but it’s not even a problem for beginners.
It doesn’t take even a few minutes and you have the feeling being cut off of the civilization and right in some untouched nature. The way to the Pont du Gard is quite exciting because the river is not monotonous at all. The flat rock formations, the windings and the river that gets sometimes wider or smaller makes the course quite exciting. When you are going in the late noon or early evening there are also a lot of water birds to observe.
After one hour of paddling you will already the aqueduct from the distance. Depending on the water level there are some really good possibilities to land on the left or right bank. These rocky banks are quite good for taking a bath in the river. From the river banks you have also the perfect spot to take some really good photos.
The Pont du Gard is the best preserved bridge from the Roman Empire. In English it names means “Bridge of the Gard”. The Gard is the river crossed by this bridge and is nowadays called Gardon. It’s 275 m (160 feet) high and contains of three levels. Die lowest level is the actual bridge where tourists are allowed to walk on. The bridge belongs to UNESCO’s list of World Heritage Sites. When getting closer to the bridge you should pay attention at the protruding stones of the masonry. They were used to support the scaffoldings when the bridge has been built. They remained there for eventual restoration work. But another theory says that they were just not removed because they didn’t have the money for it at the end. On Wikipedia, you can read more about the history of this bridge.
Normally, there is an entrance fee starting from 8€. You get the detailed prices on the official website. But if you are landing with a boat on the bank just next to the bridge, you don’t pay any entrance fee. It’s a must to go up to the first level of the bridge and to enjoy the stunning view from in both directions during the sunset.
Before going back to the campsite, you could do a picknick at the river bank. The way back with the kayak is a bit harder because you have to paddle a bit stronger when there is a current. However, at most of these spots you have also the possibility to get out of your boat at the bank and to carry your boat around these currents. Especially when the water level is very low, this is sometimes even the only possibility to get through it. For this case, think about getting some neoprene shoes because there are many little rocks and stones at the river bank. At the camp site we had all the time to clean up our boat. Since we stayed just next to the river, we had the chance to have our breakfast on the bank the next day, which was the perfect ending of this amazing kayak tour.
Other activities in the region
You are not going on this trip to do this short kayak tour for sure. That’s why we would like to give you some inspirations for further activities in this region. And trust us, you could spend weeks in the Provence and you wouldn’t get bored. There are plenty things to do and to see.
Kayaking or Hiking in the Calanques National Park
If you liked to tour to Pont du Gard and you are excited about another great tour, then maybe the Calanques National Park is the next paddle sport for you. It’s definitely one of the best sea kayak tours I have made so far. If you have good weather conditions you will enjoy a great coastlines of beautiful bays with beaches and azure blue water. Read more about this spot in our tour article about the calanques kayak tour.
Picturesque villages in the Provence
If you rent a car then it’s a must to go to some of many beautiful villages in the Provence. My favorite village in this region is Gordes, which is situated on a hill and from where you will enjoy a impressive view over the landscape. Nice little cozy restaurants will make you stay longer than just for a walk.
Sightseeing in Marseille and Avignon
For getting to Pont du Gard, you are probably passing by Avignon or Marseille. Don’t miss to visit one of these two cities. Both are very different from each other but worth at least a day trip. Avignon is a very charming city with a flair from the Provence. Marseille is a big vibrant city with a Mediterranean flair. The mix of different cultures and its long history makes a visit to something very special.