•Gard (30210) • Population: 1,751 • Altitude: 52 m
Vers-Pont-du-Gard is a small, Medieval village built from the orange-ochre limestone that's been quarried in the area since Roman times. The village has three ancient, covered lavoirs, a medieval tower with a lovely old campanile, and an active village life with shops that are open even on Sundays.
Vers is located between Uzès and Remoulins, west of Avignon and only a few minutes from the popular site of the Pont du Gard.
Vers-Pont-du-Gard is a small village, with only the basic village shops (butcher, baker, tabac-bookshop, post office, café-restaurant and a pizza restaurant). It's a lively and active village, however, with the shops open even on Sunday, in contrast to so many other little villages that are shut down and lifeless for much of the weekend.
There aren't a maze of medieval streets to explore, but there are interesting things to see. The main street of the village, Rue Grand du Bourg, has the shops and the mairie (town hall). A vaulted passage beneath the tall clock tower goes into the small Place de l'Horloge, where you'll find the village café, Les Voutes. The clock tower is topped with a very nice old campanile.
From the Place de l'Horloge a step-street (calade), the Rue de la Calade, leads down to the Place de la Fontain where the round-hexiganal Grand Font lavoir is located. From this low vantage point you can see the obviously medieval walls of the old village.
Vers-Pont-du-Gard village has three very nice, covered lavoirs (wash houses), all build in the last part of the 19th century.
The Grand Font is located on the aptly-named Place de la Fontaine, at the southeast edge of the old village center. This is a circular structure with a hexagonal, tiled roof, built in 1882. The water flows into the lavoir from the base of the village and circles around the interior periphery before exiting.
The Lavoir Font d'Isière is a roofed, rectangular lavoir located at the western edge of the village.
The Lavoir Fontaine de Misserand is fronted by three stone arches and is located at the southeast edge of the village, a 4-5 minute walk from the center. A trail leads into the woods from the corner of the lavoir, to the ruins of the Roman aqueduct.
The famous Uzès-to-Nîmes Roman aqueduct curved around the northern and eastern edges of Vers village, and headed south to the Pont du Gard. A very long, ruined section of the ancient aqueduct can be seen about 1 km southeast of the village, via a short trail that begins by the Misserand lavoir.
Some very important stone quarries are located at the northern edge of the village of Vers-Pont-du-Gard. Some of these quarries have been in use from Roman times until the present. They were especially active through the 19th and 20th centuries, and have been an important industrial-economic factor for the commune.
The Vers-Pont-du-Gard quarries can be observed by taking a short loop-hike north of the village. Raised observation points provide views over the protective walls and down into the quarries, including views of stone cutting machines in action. Information panels along the way describe different aspects of the quarries (including hard-to-read English).
Quarring blocks of limestone for commercial use is a labor-intensive industry. Going into the 21st century, competition from sources in North Africa with a much lower labor cost is pricing these local French quarries out of business. The local quarries that were [using] scores of quarrymen are now (2014) down to just a handful.
The stone quarry Estel that the Romans used to build the Pont du Gard is in the commune of Vers-Pont-du-Gard, but was located about 2 km southeast of the center, on the left bank of the Gardon river.
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History of Vers-Pont-du-Gard
Gallo-Roman: There was a great deal of Roman activity here from the 1st century, when stone was quarried for building the Pont du Gard and other projects.
Medieval: From the 5th century, the Roman aqueduct was abandoned and the village was in serious decline. In 688 the Duc d'Aquitaine built a chateau here. By the 11th century, the village had expanded to include houses, a church and a monastery, with the walls forming a fortress — visible as the heart of the current old village.
Market day: Wed.
• GPS: 43.965145, 4.534349
IGN (1/25,000) #2941 OT "Uzès"
"Entre Rhône et Gardon", map+info (1:30'000)
The GR6 and GR63 (Grande Randonnée) hiking trails pass along the north side of the Gardon river, just 1 km south of the village. The GR6 trail crosses the river at the famous Pont du Gard Roman aqueduct.
Although our maps don't show a GR trail here, a GR trail is clearly marked (red-white) in the village and south via the Misserand lavoir and Roman aqueduct ruins. This is evidently a loop up from the GR6-GR63 trail along the Gardon.
A short hike just southeast of the village, beginning at the covered lavoir "Misserand" passes beside vestiges of the Roman aqueduct that lead to the Pont du Gard. Continuing south on this trail, about 1 km past the D981 road, takes you to the Pont du Gard itself.
A local (yellow-marked petite randonnée) loop hike takes you past the old stone quarries north of the village. You'll see the quarries, with information panels, and pass a couple of quite nice stone bories. It's probably an hour's hike; it took us nearly two hours, with a lot of investigations along the way.
The bar-café Les Voutes on the Place de l'Horloge in the village center has a full menu for €13 (2014), or even sandwiches and take-away meals.
The village pizzeria, la Versoise has eat-in or take-away.
A very picturesque place to eat is at Le Jardin de la Gare, located in the old railway station, 800 m west of the center on the Route d'Uzès. Outdoor terrace tables sit on the old platform beside the now-disused tracks, lined with towering plane trees.
Department 30, Gard Buses
- See Beyond's Gard Department Bus Schedules for Gard bus-lines maps and bus-line schedules (Horaires).
Maps (Plans) for the Gard bus lines are on the www.edgard.fr website, with a flash webpage for each of five zones around Nîmes (www.edgard-transport.fr/plan/?rub_code=5).
Schedules for the Gard bus lines are available via the www.edgard.fr website horaires page (www.edgard-transport.fr/horaires/?rub_code=23).