Hidden in the surroundings of Bugarach is the Pont Romain, a beautifully kept Roman bridge that crosses the Gorges de la Blanque. This semi-circular arch is only small and connected the Roman road from Bugarach to Rennes-les-Bains. You can walk to this remnant of times long past following an easy trail of 6 kilometres in 2 hours.
As the family and I recently spent a little holiday at the Gîte Parenthèse in Bugarach, we made the most of it by going on some great hikes. One of them was the Sentier du Pont Romain, which starts right from the village’s Townhall. Following the yellow signs led us immediately into the meadows surrounding Bugarach, leaving the village behind. After a bit over 2 kms, we reached the vulture observatory, for which Bugarach is known. We didn’t see any during this walk (we did when we hiked to the summit of Bugarach), but the view from the Pic the Bugarach was fantastic.
Walking past the vulture observatory, we entered a pastoral zone, meaning that we had to pay attention to closing the fences. The ruminating cows along the path gave us a peaceful look while we continued our way along a narrow path with an occasional cow pat. Soon enough, we were walking in a forest and the descending path became wider. And finally, arriving at the Gorges de la Blanque, we spotted the famous Pont Romain.
The bridge was built- most probably by Romans- at the beginning of the gorges. Although the Blanque River, which descends from the Pic de Bugarach, seems to be a gentle rippling stream, the water can turn into a dangerous swirling mass of water. When this happened in the past, it was impossible to get to the other side of the river. Therefore, the Pont Romain has such a high arch, so that even during significant floods people and animals could continue to cross the bridge. Unfortunately, the bridge completely washed away during the 1992 floods. However, as the municipality recognized the important heritage of the bridge, they decided to exactly reconstruct it. And with the help of the ‘Compagnons du Devoir du Tour de France’ and the villagers, the new Pont Romain was back in use in 1993.
As the Sentier du Pont Roman is a round walk, all of us crossed the Roman bridge. Some of us rather quickly, due to vertigo. Although I don’t have a fear of heights, I did find it quite exciting to walk over the bridge, as it doesn’t have any handrails or bannisters, the path isn’t very wide, and the void beneath you is quite high. But we all managed to get to the other side of the Blanque River safely and with dry feet. The way back to Bugarach gave us another magnificent view of the mountain with the village at its foot.