Gorges de la Ardèche

1128 Reviews

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Review type

Things to do


Date of travel

August, 2017

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Travelled with

On your own

Reasons for trip

This is described as the one of the most stunning drives in France. The Ardèche is an area of high limestone hills covering a large area of southern France. It is wild scenery with little habitation. Much of it is covered by dense woodland or although there are areas of scrubland referred to as garrigue and it is the haunt of wild goats, otters, beavers and birds of prey.

The River Ardèche has cut a deep gorge with cliffs up to 1000’ and this is now a very popular tourist route from Vallo Pont d’Arc to St Martin d’Ardèche. The canyon is popular with canoeists, and this is the only way most of the canyon is accessible.

A scenic road was built along the northern side of the gorge in 1960. The road clings half way up the hillside with steep drops down to the river. There are rock overhangs and tunnels. In August it was nose to tail with traffic. There are few places to stop and these are usually busy.

We managed a brief glimpse of the famous natural arch of “Pont d’Arc”:http://www.avignon-et-provence.com/sites/default/files/styles/no-style/public/villes/contenu/01-vallon-pont-arc.jpg?itok=a9IsiZDa. This is the largest natural bridge in Europe and the large car park was full with cars queuing to get in. There is access to the river here with sandy beaches which are popular with holiday makers.

We managed to find space at Serre de Tourre viewpoint to admire the view down into the canyon several hundred feet below. In places the only indication there is a river are the limestone cliff faces.

This is a splendid drive. I was fortunate to be sitting at the front of the coach. Those further back would not have got such good views. Car passengers would be able to admire the view although the driver may be too busy concentrating on the road. It was very busy and I was frustrated there were so few places to stop and take pictures. I’m pleased to have done the drive but don’t think I would repeat it – unless it was very first thing in the morning before the tourists set out.


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