Pont Julien – The Most Charming Roman Bridge In France

Arching over the lazy river Calavon in Southern France is one of France’s oldest surviving Roman bridges, Pont Julien. The solidly built but charming sandstone bridge has survived over 2 millennia of baking Mediterranean sunshine. With some careful restoration, it is still used today as a pedestrian bridge, and has been helping people cross the river for as long as it has stood.

sketch of pont julien small stone french roman bridge

History of Pont Julien

The Pont Julien arch bridge dates back to the 3rd century BCE, and was named after the Apta Julia. The Pont Julien is 80m long, 6m wide, and 11.5m high. It is notable for its beautiful 3 arch design, with a large central arch designed for boat passage, and 2 flanking arches to help withstand floodwaters. The limestone blocks used to build it were quarried from the Luberon massif mountains, and fixed together for strength.

It was part of the Roman road system Via Domitia, which stretched from modern day Italy, across southern France, and into Spain. While may other bridges of its kind were destroyed or damaged along the way (such as the Pont Ambroix), Pont Julien is in remarkably intact condition. Pont Julien itself was built over the foundations of an earlier bridge, with traces of the supports still visible today.

Pont Julian underwent restoration in 1789 to fix cracked stonework, and by the 20th century heavy vehicles were restricted. Because of its great condition, Pont Julien has been used continuously since it was built. For some time it allowed light motor transport, but efforts to upkeep the bridge stopped vehicles crossing in 2005, which were diverted onto a nearby bridge.

The last car ever to cross was driven by an Irishman (Finnbar MacEoin) who lived in the area, and his historic journey was commemorated on a plaque on the bridge. It reads: “We do not know who was the first person to cross but an Irishman was the last.”

How to Visit Pont Julien

Pont Julien can only visited by car. Located in the Provence region, the closest town is Bonnieux (7 minutes drive), or Apt (12 minutes drive). The bridge is located on road D108, and there is a small parking lot nearby. Visitors can walk across it, and it’s well worth a short visit to admire.


Pont Julien is just one of many incredible Roman ruins and sites remaining in France. One hours drive west of Pont Julien is one the most grandiose Roman sites of all, the UNESCO World Heritage listed Pont du Gard, an aqueduct. Have a look at my full list of Roman sites in France here!

I’ve also covered some of the most impressive and amazing bridges in France, from massive engineering marvels that soar above the clouds, a Medieval stronghold with legends that Satan helped build it, and elegant and opulent Parisian spans. Read about French bridges here!


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