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“Amazing hidden Roman 'industrial' site”
Review of Barbegal Watermill

Barbegal Watermill
Ranked #30 of 53 things to do in Arles
Attraction details
Reviewed 11 July 2016

This is a stunning piece of understated archaeology hidden in the Provencal countryside. It is located near the village of Fontvieille, heading towards Arles, and is signposted "Roman Aqueduct" - although there aren't many signposts.

Once on the D82 (Route de l'Acqueduc) it is easy to miss the site as the ruins aren't obvious, but you will drive through the remains of a structure about 10 feet tall extending either side of the road. Park on the side of the road where you can - but note the warnings about theft from cars here.

The aqueduct runs north-south across the line of the road. To the north the aqueduct runs towards the sloping ground, and soon disappears the other side of a small stream. In fact there are two aqueducts running side by side, but one is in more ruins than the other.

To the south the aqueduct becomes more impressive and runs towards a cliff, above the level of the surrounding olive trees. The structure of the water channels is clear to see with the cement layer & waterproofing bitumen, along with the stone capping for the channels.

As the aqueduct approaches the cliff the right hand channel turns abruptly to the right, and continues along the north-side of the cliff. It is soon lost in the undergrowth but probably carried fresh water to Arles itself.

The left channel carries straight on through a cut in the cliff wall. Follow this and you come out on an edge above green fields and some further stone remains. These are the remains of a tier of eight watermills for grinding corn. A 2000 year old industrial food production complex!

There is a model of the mill in the Arles museum of antiquities, and there are on-line resources about the mill available, such as on Wikipaedia.

An amazing piece of Roman archaeology, just waiting to be found and visited.

3  Thank DaiWill
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC
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3 - 7 of 22 reviews

Reviewed 15 April 2016

One of examples of watermill in Provence. A place for a trek in garrigue. Idee to join architecture, history, nature and landscape with a beautiful view on Arles land.

Thank Benjamin C
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC
Reviewed 23 October 2014

We shared our jeep with two other people and the tour guide (Camargue tours) was fabulous. Not only did we walk along the Watermill adjacent to olive trees but the tour guide was extremely familiar with all the history of this 2000+ year old aqueduct. On the way to other hill side towns he stopped and picked wild spices and herbs for us to enjoy the scents. A stop at a busy but amazing market place in St. Remy and a quick look at the hospital (in Glanum) that Van Gogh was sent to after loping off his ear lobe! A ride up to the top of the mountain (where most tourists don't go) offered a remarkable view of the north and south.

1  Thank Frank T
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC
Reviewed 22 September 2014

If you are new to Europe and visiting this area, get yourself to the Pont du Gard to see one of the world's impressive engineering accomplishments. It is the sister system to the west of Roman Gaul and the aqueduct system of which Barbegal is a part. Take your imagination with you when you travel to the village of Fontvieille where the mills used to be; otherwise you will not be able to envision the vastness of what was once...
I often take visitors here, have them climb atop the dual aqueducts and peer off towards the Alpilles Mountains and the sources of water, ask them to imagine tons of water moving faster and faster down towards Arles until it reached Barbegal. Then we turn west to the facing ridge and the creve cut into the rock where the waters were forced through and out towards a gigantic basin. Down the westward slope were the mills. The waters irrigated the basin crops which when harvested were crushed at the grinding wheels of the mills.
Go there, and let your mind imagine.

3  Thank vincent13520
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC
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Reviewed 1 January 2014

Being an Engineer, I found this one of the most interesting sites in France. Unluckily there are no informative signs on site and you need to figure it all out on site or read it up on the internet before hand. Definitely a site to visit for any scientifically minded tourist. Some of the other reviews give more détails of the site that I will not repeat. Take time on the site to explore everything, but be carefull as some areas are dangerous. One day the National Government may do something to restore this site when they realise that historic sites are more than churches!

8  Thank OnVacation00Again
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC

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