Discover the Gorges de l'Ardèche!

The Gorges de l'Ardèche are located between Vallon Pont d'Arc and Saint Martin d’Ardèche, two Ardèche towns about 35 kilometers apart by a road which follows the gorges all the way. The area’s governing body is the Gorges de l'Ardèche Management Syndicate which deals with the preservation of the gorges, especially: compliance with current regulations, scientific monitoring of fauna and flora (natural heritage), welcoming and providing information to the public, raising awareness with a range of educational activities.

A protected nature reserve

In terms of administrative areas, the nature reserve of the Gorges de l'Ardèche includes part of the departments of the Ardèche with 6 municipalities and the Gard with 2 municipalities. It covers more than 1,500 hectares and has since 1980 been designated as a national nature reserve (Cf. Ministerial Decree No. 80-27 of 14 January 1980).

The Gorges de l'Ardèche nature reserve is in charge of the preservation of numerous plant and animal species, including: birds like the Egyptian vulture, Bonelli’s eagle, the peregrine falcon, the crag martin, the short-toed eagle; mammals like otters, beavers, genets, different species of bats; trees like the Phoenician juniper and different species of plants (more on the website of the Botanical Society of the Ardèche), reptiles and amphibians like the asp viper, the Coronella girondica, the spotted salamander, the ocellated lizard, the palmate newt, the Montpellier snake.

To find out more about the Gorges de l’Ardèche, you can visit the Wikipedia page of the gorges. You can also check this comprehensive 2009 publication by Christophe Gauchon: Les gorges de l’Ardèche et la grotte Chauvet : redéfinition d’une région touristique (in French only).

The Pont d'Arc natural bridge of the Ardèche

The Pont d’Arc is one of the emblematic places of the Ardèche. It is a natural bridge that spans over the Ardèche and is approximately 60 meters long and 55 meters high. It is located 5 kilometers from the town of Vallon Pont d'Arc and can be accessed by car and is visible from the road. It is often called "the natural gateway" to the Gorges de l’Ardèche and is generally considered the starting point of the gorges, which officially end in Saint Martin d'Ardèche.

It is one of the emblems of southern Ardèche, and is a well-known landmark. A large portion of the visitors to the region come to see the Pont d’Arc. The natural bridge also bears witness to the unusual and original geological formations which are typical of this region.

The town of Vallon Pont d'Arc

Vallon Pont d'Arc is a town of the Ardèche department which has about 2,000 inhabitants all year round and an approximate area of 30 km2. It is part of the intercommunality of the Gorges de l'Ardèche. The town is one of the gateways to the Gorges de l’Ardèche. Saint Martin d'Ardèche is the gateway at the other end of the gorges. Vallon Pont d'Arc is one of the most prominent tourist spots in the area, and it’s the city with the highest population growth between winter and summer.

An exceptional geological site

The limestone geological formations of this region make it an exceptional site for summer tourist activities such as white water sports (canoeing, kayaking, canyoning) but also for leisurely cave visits or potholing (caves and sinkholes). If you want to find out more about the geological characteristics of the Gorges de l'Ardèche and the Ruoms to Vallon Pont d’Arc area, you can visit the website of the Geological Society of the Ardèche.

Canoe the Ardèche

Going down the Gorges de l'Ardèche by canoe or kayak is one of the flagship activities of the area. They are an ideal playground for water sports enthusiasts who want to practice a recreational and fun activity with a minimum risk. The flow rate of the river in the Gorges de l'Ardèche is relatively low but it’s high enough to allow the formation of rapids. The gorges are an excellent middle ground for discovering recreational canoeing or kayaking without taking any risks. This is ideal for couples, families or for a group of friends on holiday.

The Pont d'Arc Cavern

The Pont d'Arc Cavern or the cave of the Combe d’Arc (as the locality is known) is a Paleolithic cave thought to date back more than 30,000 years before our era. It contains a large number of carved or painted animal figures, and is one of the oldest forms of art known to date. The intricacy of the paintings demonstrates our ancestors’ outstanding artistic sense and challenges the assumption that art has evolved gradually throughout prehistory. For more information, you can visit the official website of the Pont d’Arc Cavern.