The Gorges de Ardeche are one of the most beautiful natural sites in France, in the Rhône-Alpes region of France. An absolutely unique and wonderful place, which enchants with its spectacular and wild landscape.
An incredibly rich geological and archaeological heritage, with kilometers of canyons and absolutely unique and suggestive limestone plateaus.
Every year, the Gorges de Ardeche attract thousands of visitors, thanks to the many opportunities they offer; here, in fact, it is possible to practice caving, climbing, the descent of the gorges with canoes, kayaks or boats. And again, trekking or bungee jumping. There are routes almost everywhere. You can choose to do them in total autonomy, or with instructors and specialized guides.
The Gorges extend over a total area of 1575 hectares and, since 1980, it has been classified as a National Natural Reserve to protect the thousands of species of animals and plants that inhabit it. Among these, the Bonelli’s eagle, the vulture, vulture, the peregrine falcon, the European beaver, the otter, the bat, the alosa and many others.
More than 7000 hectares, are also included in a Natura 2000 site, recognized at European level.
A truly marvelous heritage, with a richness and uniqueness of flora and fauna that are hard to find equal across the country. Rivers, streams, woods and maquis, rocky walls, caves and much more. Truly a magical place, all to be discovered.
It is possible to visit the reserve on foot, in total autonomy, following one of the ten different routes, for a total of 84 kilometers! The paths offer beautiful and suggestive points of view on the gorges and on the surrounding highlands.
The descent of the Gorges by canoe or kayak is one of the most popular and practiced activities. The viewpoints and landscapes that open up to the view of visitors along the river are truly wonderful and evocative. Depending on the season and the water level, enthusiasts can follow routes from a minimum of 6 to a maximum of approximately 32 kilometers.
Trekking is also very popular in these parts. You can follow fantastic itineraries that alternate between plateaus, river and sheer cliffs, overlooking the gorges and meanders. Please note that it is forbidden to leave the indicated routes. Accompanied by experienced staff, you can practice activities such as climbing the rocky walls or the caving of the numerous underground caves. And for a truly complete experience, you can even sleep for a night in a tent on the reserve. In this case, reservations must be made in one of the bivouacs present at Gaud and Gournier.
WHAT TO SEE
The Pont d’Arc is one of the most loved, visited and photographed places in the Gorges de Ardeche, of which it represents a real gateway. It is a spectacular natural arch, 60 meters long and 54 meters high, below which the river continues to flow. You can cross it by canoe, admiring the truly unique spectacle of the meander.
In midsummer, in costume, you can relax in the sun or cool off, taking a refreshing dip in the cold waters of the river.
The caves, are probably among the most beautiful and interesting in all of France. They present very rich calcareous concretions, with surprising shapes, and really fascinating and suggestive chromatic shades.
Along the tourist road D290, a road to the right (well indicated) leads to the Madeleine Caves. The site is located on the left bank of the Gorges, about 7 km from the beautiful village of Saint Remèze.
The caves are open, every day, from 01 April to 05 November. The opening time is as follows:
April, May, June and September, from 10:00 to 18:00.
July and August, from 10:00 to 19:00.
October and November, from 10:00 to 17:00.
The entrance ticket costs €10.50 per adult and €6.00 from 6 to 15 years old. Children under the age of 6 have entered for FREE.
MAISON DE LA RISERVE
The “House” is located near the Caves, and hosts a permanent exhibition that introduces you to the discovery of the Gorges de Ardeche reserve. In addition to an interesting exhibit, suitable for all ages, do not miss, on the outside, the spectacular view of all the Gorges, and, in particular, the Fortress of the Cathedral, a wonder of nature. The landscape really leaves you breathless!
Admission is free. Info and updates available on the official website, through this link.
HOW TO GET TO GORGES DE ARDECHE
Just over 80 kilometers separate the Pont d’Arc, entrance of the Gorges de l’Ardeche, from Nimes and Avignon. From Marseille, you need to travel about 170 kilometers. Lyon, north of the Gorges, is 200 kilometers away.
There is little doubt that to reach this wonderful corner of paradise, you need a car, or, alternatively, a two-wheeler. A viable solution could be to rent a car directly at the airport. The Gorges, of course, are an obligatory detour, should you also visit Provence or the French Riviera.
From the north side, you will be able to follow the D290 panoramic road, which perfectly follows the over 30 km of canyons carved into the limestone plateau between the Pont d’Arc (Vallon Pont d’Arc) and Saint Martin d’Ardèche.
WHERE TO SLEEP
Splendid and magical places await you if you decide to stay along the area that crosses the canyon. In the beautiful village of Vallon-Pont-d’Arc, a few kilometers from the Pont d’Arc, you will have a wide choice. Le Chat Percha offers comfortable double rooms with breakfast included, for around € 80 a night. Our favorite is Gîtes Les 3 Cigales, also suitable for families.
Located next to the GR4 hiking trail and 50 km from Montélimar Train Station, Gîtes Les 3 Cigales offers self-catering cottages, an outdoor swimming pool, a garden and free Wi-Fi. The cottages at Gîtes Les 3 Cigales have a terrace overlooking the mountains, a sofa and a wardrobe. The private bathroom has a bath or shower and a toilet.
The fully equipped kitchen or kitchenette includes a fridge, a microwave, a toaster, a high chair for children, a barbecue, a coffee machine and cooking utensils. You can book your stay at a special price from this link.