Pont Ambroix

Pont Ambroix

About half way between Nimes and Montpellier in southern France is the old Roman fortified town of Ambrussum, which today is an archeological site in the middle of French farmland. A mere one hundred metres east of the northern end of the fortified wall lie the remains of Pont Ambroix – an arched Roman bridge across the small Vidourle River.

Originally, the bridge is said to have had eleven arches, and it was still in use in the middle ages. By the early 1600’s only four arches remained, and by the 1850’s only two. When floods washed away one of these in 1933 only the single arch that we see today was left. This final arch is itself only precariously standing, and once the keystone in it centre is weathered loose, that too will come tumbling down.

A careful, respectful walk through the overgrowth on either side of the river reveals many of the original roman stones, and the craftsmanship of the early roman stonemasons can be examined in detail. On some of the less weathered stones the visitors can still see the chisel marks and the careful biscuit notches made around two thousand years ago.

Pont Ambroix

Close up of rubble near Pont Ambroix

The site of the old village of Ambrussum, on the west side of the river, shows similar wear and tear, though in this case many of the stones were acquired for re-use elsewhere over the centuries. The lowest stones of the old ramparts can still be seen, giving the visitor an idea of the scope of the old Roman village. These were buried for hundreds of years and excavations began only in 1967, which also eventually uncovered the main stone road and the walls of other structures.

Situated only one kilometre west of the town of Gallargues-le-Monteux, about four and a half kilometres north of the old city of Lunel, and six hundred metres south of the huge A9 motorway, the site is not the easiest to get to. If coming along the A9 (either from the east or the west), might be best to jump off at the D34. That will get you to the west side of the river. The east side is more inaccessible, but will be fun for the more adventurous. A good GPS will be needed, though, as there is no signage and everything looks like a farm access lane.

If you’re in the area for sightseeing, chance are you’re planning on visiting the Roman sites in Nimes, and the famous Pont du Gard Roman aqueduct – so you’ve already established your fondness for roman history. The archeological site of Ambrussum, and the haunting Pont Ambroix should therefore be an easy and logical inclusion.


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