Barbegal Aqueduct and Mill | Attraction Guides | History Hit

Barbegal Aqueduct and Mill

Fontvieille, Provence-Alpes-Cote d'Azur, France

Luke Tomes

24 Nov 2020
Image Credit: Shutterstock

About Barbegal Aqueduct and Mill

The Barbegal Aqueduct and Mill is a Roman watermill complex located in the commune of Fontvieille, near the town of Arles, in southern France.

Barbegal Aqueduct and Mill history

The fascinating Barbegal Aqueduct and Mill archaeological site contains the ruins of an ancient water-powered milling complex and gives crucial insight into Roman use of water-powered engineering.

Not a technology often associated with the Romans, the Barbegal Mill demonstrates that far from being ignorant of such technology, the Romans actually pioneered this kind of harnessing of water power for industrial use.

Probably built in the early 2nd century AD, there are actually two ancient aqueducts that are found within the area of Barbegal, the Eygalières aqueduct and the Caparon aqueduct. Both served to supply the nearby city of Arles, Roman Arelate, while a sluice gate siphoned off water to the mill.

The Barbegal Mill itself was a huge complex built into the slope of the hillside and utilising 16 water wheels to power the massive flour mill. It is thought this industrial-scale operation provided the majority of the bread for the inhabitants of ancient Arles.

Barbegal Aqueduct and Mill today

Today however, only a hint of this impressive complex survives. Sections of the Barbegal Aqueducts can still be seen as can the outer walls of the Barbegal Mill. The Museum of Arles contains a model of the complex demonstrating how it may have appeared in its heyday.

Visitors to Barbegal may park where a minor road crosses the massive remains of the original aqueduct, and walk south about 250 meters along the remains of the aqueduct through the cleft in the ridge to the top of the mill complex. The site is signposted as Roman aqueduct rather than as a mill. The site is currently overgrown, and care is needed exploring the ruins.

Getting to Barbegal Aqueduct and Mill

Barbegal Aqueduct and Mill archaeological site is just outside the town of Arles, France. If you are travelling by car from the centre of the town, you can reach the site in under 20 minutes via the D17 and Route de L’Acqueduc.

If you you are travelling from Paris, take the A6 southbound toward Lyon and the A7 from Lyon to Avignon. From here travel down the D570N before turning onto the D33 at the roundabout in Saint-Gabriel. There is a carpark on site.

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