Aqueduct of Roquefavour

Aqueduct of Roquefavour


Introduction :

On this beautiful sunny winter day as the south of France knows, what could be healthier and more invigorating than a little trip into the depths of Provence?
So I took, whistling happily, the road linking “Aix en Provence” at “Berre” alongside the railway “Aix-Rognac” which is well known to be a strictly merchant line, carrying whole wagons of radioactive scraps bauxite.
It is in Roquefavour, charming forgotten corner, that we discover the Aqueduct, which passes well above the “Arc”, cheerful small river with a calm flow and quiet banks.


Location :



History of the Aqueduct of Roquefavour :

This aqueduct located in the municipality of “Ventabren” is not like the “Pont du Gard” aqueduct : it is not a vestige of the Romans.
Indeed, the structure is much more recent, so let me tell you the history of the place that will, I doubt not, amaze you :

Marseille, and Provence in general, often known in its history problems related to lack of water.
In 1565, Adam de Craponne, an engineer from “Salon de Provence”, had proposed a “small” project : the “Canal de Provence” that could bring the waters of “la Durance” in order to supply the main cities. The project was abandoned given the scope of work and their financial cost (as if an engineer would worry about that kind of absurd detail… ).
The XVIIth century saw the amplification of the lack of water because Marseille has doubled its size and increased its population.
However, we had to wait for the great droughts of 1834 and the terrible cholera epidemic to see the Municipal Council of Marseille decides in 1835 the construction of the Canal de Marseille (not to be confused with the Canal de Provence), a 80km long canal bringing water from la Durance (as proposed by Craponne, remember?) and the passage above the “Arc” was decided at Roquefavour. (Funny how politic didn’t evolved… Waiting for death and disaster before to do something planned long ago).
Then everything went fast…
In 1839, in order to cross the “Arc”, the city accepts the choice of a masonry aqueduct rather than a bridge-siphon despite its colossal cost of 3.8 million francs-gold. (about 14 tons of gold).
In 1840 acceptance of the work permits.
in 1841 the construction begins.
In 1842 the civil engineer from “Ponts & Chaussées” Frantz Montricher took charge of the work.
In May of 1847 the aqueduct is completed; the 30th of June the water of la Durance is released and crosses for the first time over the “Arc” on the aqueduct.
in 2005, The Aqueduct of Roquefavour is classified as an historic monument.


Aqueduc de Roquefavour - Partie Ouest



Architecture of the Aqueduct of Roquefavour :

In total, there are 5,000 workers, including 300 stonemasons, who were mobilized to complete this gigantic task. It would be an understatement to say that because *fasten your seatbelts*, here are the characteristics of the beast:
The aqueduct Roquefavour is composed of three rows of arches:
The first row consists of 12 arches 15 meters wide and a height of 34.10 meters.
The second row consists of 15 arches 16 meters wide and a height of 37.60 meters.
The last row is composed of 53 arches 5 meters wide with a height of 10.95 meters.
The total height of the aqueduct reaches 82.65 meters, and goes over 393 meters long.
The flow of the aqueduct of Roquefavour is 4,4m3 per second since the work of 1971, which saw the add of two superimposed lines 1m of diameter each raised in the 3rd floor.


Aqueduc de Roquefavour - Partie Centrale



The aqueduct of Roquefavour is massive and runs through the valley with a beautiful symmetry.
I understand why so many cyclists use this road. It is a beautiful and uncrowded area.


Aqueduc de Roquefavour - Partie Est



My conclusion about the Aqueduct of Roquefavour :

For my part, I find the environment around the aqueduct of Roquefavour enchanting. I have often brought my dog here ​​to play and swim in the “Arc” river just below.
No doubt, if I have the opportunity again, I will return with the same enjoyment.