The Grand Site de France label
The Pont du Gard site was awarded the Grand Site de France label in 2004, in recognition of its how it is managed in compliance to sustainable development principles, reconciling the preservation of the landscape and the ‘site’s spirit’ with the quality of how it receives the general public.
The Grands Sites de France® that have received or pending attribution of the label all share the fact that they are classified sites under the (French) law dated 2 May 1930 on "the protection of natural monuments and sites of an artistic, historical, scientific, legendary or picturesque nature", for a significant part of their territory. Whether sublime or picturesque, grandiose or intimate, subjugating or soothing, each Grand Site has its own particular "spirit". This "spirit” is at the very heart of the actions undertaken by the sites’ managers such that each visitor can in turn experience the place to the full.
Vue sur le Gardon depuis Le Pont du Gard (Richard Sprang)
The interest of the site lies in the power of its elements: the monument, the remains of the ancient aqueduct, the limestone rock outcrops, water and the Mediterranean vegetation. This natural setting around the Pont du Gard contributes to the site’s attractiveness. The Pont du Gard site receives nearly 1 million visitors per year. The conservation of its landscape, historical and archaeological heritage, combined with the reception of a large number of visitors is the very essence of the management challenge faced by the Pont du Gard as a Grand Site de France.
The Pont du Gard is inseparable from the landscape that surrounds it and sublimates it. It reveals itself to visitors through the ambience of its surrounding landscape: the Mediterranean and riparian woodland along with its watercourse. An open-air “Mémoires de Garrigue” trail provides a vision of how this landscape has been shaped by man over time.
The re-development of the Pont du Gard site, completed in 2003, rehabilitated existing paths and buildings and integrated new architecture, which integrates perfectly with the landscape and placed road traffic, signs and itinerant shops at a safe distance.
Two new buildings have been constructed, on each bank of the Gardon, to concentrate the necessary services and information. Both are completely invisible from the bridge.
Finally, the former "Labourel" hotel of the Pont du Gard (1865) has been renovated and is now a restaurant proposing regional cuisine: "Les Terrasses".
The site has been protected by the French government since 12 May 1932. This protection was extended to the 407 ha surrounding the Pont du Gard in 1993. This ensemble is now registered as the listed "Pont du Gard and its surroundings” site.
In 2013, the French government expressed the desire that the listed ""Pont du Gard and its surroundings"" site merge with the listed ""Gorges du Gardon"" site in order to extend the protection by becoming the listed ""Gorges du Gardon, Pont du Gard and Nîmes garrigues"" site covering an area of 7760 ha.
The label was awarded label in 2004, based on the site’s values as safeguarded by:
a large-scale re-development,
significant interventions that have enabled rehabilitated areas that had been suffered due to excessive visitor frequentation,
a visitor reception that is in keeping with the Pont du Gard site’s high profile.
Only twenty sites have obtained this label in France to date, namely:
- Aven d'Orgnac (2004, renewed in 2010 and 2017)
- Pointe du Raz en Cap Suzin (2004, 2012 on a new territory and renewed in 2019)
- Conconrs-Sainte Victoire (2004, renewed in 2011 and 2019)
- Bibracte -Morvan des Sommets (2007, renewed in 2014 and 2022)
- Chaîne des Puys - Puy de Dôme (2008, renewed in 2014 and 2021)
- Marais Poitevin (2010, renewed in 2018)
- Gorges de l'Hérault (2010, renewed in 2018)
- Les Deux caps Blanc Nez - Gris Nez (2011, renewed in 2018)
- Baie de Somme (2011, renewed in 2018)
- Massif du Canigó (2012, renewed in 2018)
- Puy Mary Volcan du Cantal (2012, renewed in 2019)
- "Solutré Pouilly Vergisson (2013, renewed in 2020)
Camargue Gardoise (2014, renewed in 2022)
- Cirque de Navacelles (2017)
- Iles sanguinaires - pointe de la Parata (2017)
- Conca d'Oru, patrimonio vineyard - Gulf of Saint-Florent (2017)
- Dunes Sauvages de Gâvres à Quiberon (2018)
- Cap d'Erquy - Cap Fréhel (2019)
- Vézère Valley (2020)
- Charente Estuary - Arsenal de Rochefort (2020)"