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 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.
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.
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 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 23€ 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 the 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.
The 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.