The Pont du Gard, one of the best preserved Roman aqueducts in the world, is located at the end of a pretty gorge on the Gard (French) or Gardon (Occitan) river, northeast of Nîmes. The 8 km, 2 hour canoe trip, paddling down river from Collias and then under this most famous bridge is popular with French and international tourists alike.
For a little more action, meaning small rapids and more dramatic cliff views, you can start up river as far as Russan (Ste Anastasie). However, watch out for the wind. The narrow sections of the gorge create a wind tunnel on a breezy day making it incredibly difficult to paddle.
Also note that as the water levels fall off in the spring it becomes increasing difficult to make the longer trip. This year with an abundance of rain we were able to do the 32 km, 7 hour trip from Russan in the first week in June. If you don’t want to do the longer trip, the 24 km, 5 hour one starting at Pont St Nicolas has nearly as much impact in terms of gorge views and rapids.
As the “canoe” is really more of a kayak, you will get wet, so plan on going on a warm day. The water is “refreshingly” cool but not icy. Pack a picnic and enjoy hanging out on the river bank or taking a swim in the river.
We used Canoe le Tourbillon based out of Collias, but there are two other reputable companies, Kayak Vert and Canoe Collias, that rent canoes and kayaks. All have similar prices and services such as transportation to and from the river and water-tight containers to keep your valuables dry.
Photos taken June 3, 2013 with a waterproof camera.