Wednesday, January 19, 2011

Visiting the Pont du Gard/Being Afraid of Imaginary Dinosaurs

      The Pont du Gard is one of those things that merits being stared at, like the Eiffel Tower or the Colosseum. You can watch it for an extended period of time without becoming bored, because there’s so much to take in. People come to swim in the river during the summer, or hike in the surrounding forest, and I can easily picture picnicking under it as a French family, and just staring for a while in awe. It’s not a UNESCO World Heritage Site for nothing.

Yeah... I wish I took this. But I didn't.

          The complex at the entrance to the Pont du Gard is much bigger than I’d anticipated—with a kids area, a movie theater that plays a documentary about the monument, gift shops, restaurants, the works. There’s also an amazing museum, which you can tell they poured a ton of money into, because it managed to make a bunch of potentially dry and boring facts incredibly interesting through videos, audio tracks, dioramas, life-sized replicas, and even a huge representation of a limestone quarry. You walk through tunnels, over sand, and through light shows. There are fountains, ponds, faucets and waterfalls everywhere, so for the love of God, make sure you don’t step foot in the exhibit if you have to pee.

Museum Pont du Gard
          At the point of my visit, over the weekend, it was of course mid-January, a low tourism month. This means that there weren’t many people there, with the exception of the Asian tour group that enthusiastically wanted to take my picture, for reasons I don't totally understand. The shops were empty. The tables and chairs were empty. It was a ghost town, but with souvenirs for sale. Being in a huge, yet deserted touristic center inevitably reminded me of Jurassic Park. I felt like at any moment, as I drank my chocolat chaud in the vacant restaurant, a raptor was going to creep around the corner and I’d have to hide in a stove in the stainless steel kitchen:

           The chase scene I envisioned was made increasingly more alarming as I realized I wasn't sure how fast I could maneuver and avoid giant lizard predators in my tight denim skinny jeans. But if Jeff Goldblum suddenly showed up in a torn black shirt spouting condescending scientific facts, I decided that I would be ok with it. Sometimes, one must accept their fate. 

Vicious, raptor-induced death, if it comes with this? The pros outweigh the cons.
[Editors note: Did you know that if you Google search "Jeff Goldblum," like I just did to find the image above, the first item that comes up in the search bar is "Jeff Goldblum is watching you poop"? Yeah. We should all be concerned.]

1 comment:

  1. Thank you for directions and interesting info about How to get from Avignon to Pont du Gard. We just might try it! Joy