When it comes to historic Roman bridges, the Pont Julien in the village Bonnieux in Provence has well proved itself. Named after the ancient Roman Emperor Julius Caesar, it is famous for being one of the best-preserved Roman bridges in France. (Pont means “bridge” in French.)
While not as large and spectacular as its nearby counterpart, the Pont du Gard, the Pont Julien is quite impressive considering how long ago it was constructed and the fact that it still is a working bridge that can be walked upon.
In fact, the bridge was used for car traffic as recently as 2005, making for over 2000 years of use. In the early 21st century, a replacement bridge was built to preserve the Pont Julian from wear and tear, but it can still be used as a foot and bike path.
The Pont Julien is not enclosed and anyone can park nearby and walk on it for free. There are many bike and hiking trails that start here and continue across the Luberon and Vaucluse in Provence countryside.
Construction and history
The bridge spans the Calavon river and was built using a mixture of limestone, sand, and water to create a concrete-like material. Considering how long the bridge has been standing, the technique obviously worked!
The bridge was used as a major transportation route for goods and people during the Roman period as part of the Via Domitia. It was also likely used by the Roman army to move troops and supplies as they progressed north and west.
Today, it is open to the public and is a popular tourist destination. Visitors can walk across the bridge and take in the beautiful views of the surrounding countryside, including the nearby historic village of Bonnieux.
How to get to Pont Julien?
The Pont Julien is only accessible by car. While it is officially located in the town of Bonnieux, it is a few miles away from the center of Bonnieux and not easily accessible by foot.
The city of Avignon is the largest big city nearby with high-speed train TGV access. It is about 30 miles (50 km) away from Pont Julien.
For parking, there is a decent-size parking lot about 10 yards away from Pont Julien where visitors can park for free and wander around the bridge.
How long does the visit take?
A visit around Pont Julien takes around 1/2 hour or so if you want to explore fully and walk around the nearby countryside. It is a beautiful part of Provence, and is well worth a visit.
Where should you stay?
If you are looking to visit there are some wonderful lodging options around the town of Bonnieux:
If you enjoyed that article, you may like to read more about traveling around Provence. A bientôt!