Monday, June 28, 2010

Swimming in the shadows of the aqueducts

Ok, so it was not in the shadows but in the full mediterranean sun. And it was NOT me who was swimming. Still, it was an amazing place to cool off in the waters flowing under the largest aqueduct built in the Roman Empire!

But that wasn't how we started our day. We piled into the car by 10 am in hopes of getting to the Musee de Bon Bon in Uzes, north of Nimes. It was going to be a long drive and a long day. A missed turn though, pointed us off the A9 toll highway and along the scenic route until we met back up with it later.

Unfortunately, we made it to the musee just mins after the tours were stopped for lunch break and we had too much on our agenda to wait until after lunch. Fortunately, however, we were still there in time to go to the store. A little hint: the Musee de Bon Bon is actually a museum opened by Haribou at it's Uzes candy plant. And so if you like gummy bears and everything else gummy, this is like heaven. I laughed to see the grown-ups with shopping carts hauling out kilo sized bags of gummy bears and other gummy delights! So yes, we all bought candy, but nothing in the kilo size. They also had posters and books and things representing the origins of the candy plant who's first candy was made with the local anise plant - Zans.

After taking pictures with the Haribou gang, we were hungry. And what kind of example would we be setting for our kids if we let them have candy for lunch? So we headed off to the second part of our adventure: Le Pont de Gard.

Although we'd seen pictures, it didn't really prepare us for the aqueduct or it's location.

We parked in a large parking lot which was, thankfully, quite empty. After paying 15 Euros to get in, I was impressed by the facilities. Not only did it have nice toilettes (lol) but self-serve refreshments with relaxing chairs under a tarp, and a few tourist shops for good measure.

So off we all walked with our big Carrafour shopping bags filled with pick-nick food and another with bathing suits. We walked down a dusty fragrant path covered with thick shade from trees growing out of craggy rocky terrain. This was definitely more Provence than Languedoc. And then around the bend, the aqueduct!

After finding a shady place to eat and listen to some really weird frogs (sounded like chickens - wonder if they tasted like...), we headed across the aqueduct and over to the other shore where there was a rocky beach. By now, it was about 2 pm and the heat was pretty brutal - time for a cooling river swim! There were bathrooms large enough to change in and so Mike and the girls got on their suits and headed in. The river was a bit chilly. I waded in too. There were female tourists settling on the rocks near us who, though lacked bathing suits, decided to sun bathe in their underwear (oh, so THAT'S why they sell it in matching sets!)

Although we had planned on going to Nimes to see the Roman colosseum (built the same time as the big one in Rome), we had to let it go. Everyone got fried to a crisp in the sun and was tired. So, we drove home, everyone quiet, and even got off at the right exits.

Everyone agrees, in retrospect (as I'm writing this now that I'm home) that the Pont de Gard was one of the top 5 in everyone's list!

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