Swimming & Canoeing at Pont du Gard, France

September 28, 2010

family travel provence france swimming and canoeing pont du gard picnic

When we first discovered the UNESCO World Heritage Site, Pont de Gard, very early on our family world trip in the fall of 2006, we were surprised that we loved it so much and that it was one of those places that are better than any pictures or video can portray. We decided to see it again on this years road trip through Provence, to experience it in the summer in full bloom. 

Pont du Gard park Provence France world heritage site 

family travel Pont du Gard park Provence France swimming canoeing
family travel Pont du Gard park Provence France world heritage site

The" Le Pont du Gard"  museum here is fantastic, thus from a homeschool educational travel perspective, it is a perfect place to do a unit study of sorts on ancient Roman times again, especially after just seeing the two arenas and Roman ruins in Nimes and Arles. We stayed at a La Sousa campground that is in close walking distance to Pont du Gard which we liked much better the first time we visited it when we had the place to ourselves and the free wifi worked.  It is extremely crowded in the summer high season, the staff is very grouchy, the nightly entertainment is loud and the free wifi is all but useless. That said, we lucked out with a fairly large,  private pitch in the woods not far from the play area and pool plus enjoyed tubing down the private, rocky beach, so we stayed a while again. Like most campgrounds in Europe, at La Sousa they make fresh baguettes and pastries every morning and have store, restaurant ( lousy) and kids clubs. 

Family travelPont du Gard park Provence France swimming, tubing 

 travel Pont du Gard park Provence France canoeing

There are a few things that one can do in the summer that can not be done in the fall, like canoe under the Pont du Gard which is quite a spectacular way to see and experience it. I was a bit worried if I could make it with my mobility challenges and bad arm, but we managed as it is quite easy, but even the shortest, easiest route is a bit too long. We loved doing it, but we were exhausted by the time we finished and my bad arm was really sore ( both of DaVinci's were also sore the next day). We slept well that night! The hardest part for me was getting in and out of the canoe as they don't make that easy, provide no help with that and there were no other people our age canoeing. I am glad that we did the canoeing here instead of the Dordogne where we had also attempted to do it as this river is mostly very gentle and it doesn't get more challenging until after the Pont du Gard ( when unfortunately one is most tired). We wish it had stopped there so we could have just walked back to our campsite. Stopping for a picnic along the way and jumping out to swim ( or turn the canoe around from going backwards), was all part of the fun. 

Pont du Gard park Provence France canoeing 

Pont du Gard park Provence France canoeing family travel 

  family travel Pont du Gard park Provence France canoeing

We also all loved tubing the river on other days, especially Mozart. It's really a perfect setting for kids as long as they keep their eyes out for the canoes who usually have people who are generally clueless on how to steer them. The water was fast enough in the center to make for a good ride, but also easy enough to get off and walk back at any point. It was a much faster flowing river in the fall when we visited and too cold to canoe, swim or tube then. It's great for families to be able to combine learning about Romans while having so much fun. There were also lots of minnows to catch with nets and places to fish from the banks.

Pont du Gard park Provence France world heritage site family picnic  

swimming, tubing Pont du Gard park Provence France world heritage site

One other special that they only do in the summer, is light up the Pont du Gard. We wanted to see that too, but were quite surprised that it is not just lit up, but a real light show every night in July and August. All the colors and only a few people out viewing it, make it quite a special experience. Definitely put Pont du Gard on your list, but perhaps check one of the other many campgrounds in the area.

Pont du Gard park Provence France world heritage site 

family travel swimming south of france Pont du Gard park Provence France world heritage site 

  Pont du Gard park Provence France world heritage site

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Thanks for sharing your experiences of the Pont du Gard. We're heading there in late November, so whilst it will be just a little too chilly for swimming, we're looking forward to checking out the Pont!
Safe travels.

Camels & Chocolate

Mozart is such a cutie! I'm loving that first photo of her.


This looks like a great place for some serious R & R. Lovely photos.


France and Italy are at the very top of my list of places we want to see. We were going to go to Greece next year, but due to money issues, we can't afford plane tickets there. But we could manage a trip to either Spain, Italy or France. We have to go after Oct. 15th, though, to take advantage of off-peak flyer miles.

We want to be able to swim while we're there. What is your recommendation? We're thinking southern Spain and Portugal with a quick stop in Moracco, but I'd really, really love to get to southern France or Italy. What would the weather be like there in the middle of October?


Holidays- We first went there in the fall & enjoyed it too!


C&C - Aw, thanks!


Nancie - Thanks! It really is!!


If you want to be able to swim, you will probably have to go to Spain or Portugal. Look at the pics of us in Oct ( first pont du gard link on this post) and you see we are in sweatshirts.

We had the place to ourselves and kidlet did jump in the pool, but it was only for seconds on an exceptionally warm day....& she jumped out almost immediately as it was way too cold to swim really.

There is an indoor pool at the place we stayed at in Nice, so that could work and some people winter there. Or go to the far south of Italy in Sicily might help.

Even in Barcelona it is less swimmable at the time compare to southern Spain. With weather one can always get lucky, but for the most part you want to stay far south after Oct 15th, even more so if you want to be able to swim outdoors.

Good luck with your plans.


Hubby & I were there a few weeks ago.Great place to be in.

Thomas Dembie

I was there last August and also had a great time. An excellent spot for a day trip from Avignon.

Shanna Schultz

Looks like a great time. I want to come to Provence in July, and this would be at the top of my list of things to visit.

A question about facilities at Pont Du you remember if they had any lockers available, or a bag check? I am coming on a bus, so I won't have a vehicle to leave my things in while I swim. Thanks!

Jeanne @soultravelers3

So happy to hear that @Charmine and @Thomas!

I don't know, but I bet they do ( lots of people camp from buses/trains). Contact the campground and VERY cool museum and ask.

Good luck!

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