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Along the water in the heart of the Ardèche gorges

Over thirty kilometers, from Vallon-Pont-d'Arc to Saint-Martin d'Ardèche, the Gorges de l'Ardèche are an invitation to micro-adventure.

Ldizzying e canyon of the Ardèche gorges hollowed out by time in the limestone plateau, winds through the Mediterranean scrubland. The white, gray or pink limestone cliffs plunge into peaceful green water in places, but tumultuous in other places. The iconic XNUMX-meter-high natural arch stands out proudly. The setting is idyllic for a descent along the water, in the exceptional preserved natural setting that constitutes the gorges of the Ardèche.

A natural reserve

Since 1980, the Gorges de l'Ardèche have been classified as Nature reserve. Land use planning and tourism development are thus regulated. The cultural heritage and the environment are then preserved. The 1 hectares of the reserve are home to a varied and abundant flora and fauna. Bonelli's eagles, jackdaws, otters, bats, snakes… But also European beavers, wild boars and wild goats share the place with amazed visitors. From mountain influences in the west to Mediterranean scents in the south, the Ardèche gorges nature reserve is a site of choice for nature lovers.

The Lutra lutra can be discovered in the gorges of the Ardèche
The Lutra lutra can be discovered in the gorges of the Ardèche

An important label

The Syndicat de Gestion des Gorges de l'Ardèche work in partnership with guides and instructors working in the Gorges de l'Ardèche. All are driven by the desire to preserve their environment. They therefore wished to promote a practice of sport that respects the environment. They have as well developed the label Nature Guide of the Gorges de l'Ardèche. This guide “guarantees the public a qualitative approach to this still preserved site”. By choosing certified professionals, athletes are therefore part of a process of preserving the gorges.

Several tailor-made routes in the Ardèche gorges

From the age of 7, adventurers can embark on an immersion in the heart of nature. Several formulas are offered to individuals, groups and families. The mini-descent of 2 hours and 8 kilometers ends at the Pont d'Arc. She constitutes an extraordinary initiation to canoeing. The great 25-kilometer descent starting from the downstream side of the Pont d'Arc offers a full day of adventure. For an even more intense experience, it is also possible to do a course over two days, including an unforgettable bivouac under the stars. And if the effort does not tempt you, the boatmen offer an immersion in the tradition of river transport in the heart of the limestone cliffs.

The famous Pont d'Arc in the Ardèche gorges
The famous Pont d'Arc in the Ardèche gorges

The gorges of the Ardèche: A variety of possibilities for athletes of all levels

Si the canoe is king in the gorges, visitors can taste many other sporting pleasures. Hiking allow you to discover the cultural heritage of the site. MTB trails offer significant height differences on stony terrain. Fisherman can reconnect with a strong ancestral tradition of this region.

A maze of galleries and underground caves

The permeable soil of Ardèche does not retain surface water, which is quickly absorbed before circulating in a maze of underground galleries and rivers suitable for exploration. The network of Saint-Marcel caves alone exceeds 50 kilometers. Soil erosion by water has given way to multiple caves and sinkholes, these majestic natural abysses once inhabited by man for some. The most famous of the inhabited caves in the region is certainly the Chauvet cave, whose reconstruction is a technical and artistic feat to visit with the family. Some caves have also been fitted out for the visit, such as Madeleine, Saint-Marcel or Aven Marzal. Supervised by qualified instructors, the more adventurous can also learn about caving in the Ardèche basement.

Caves of Saint-Marcel d'Ardèche
Caves of Saint-Marcel d'Ardèche

"Amazed by the Ardèche" is the promise to visitors. With its natural arch, its meanders, its limestone cliffs, its flowing water and its sumptuous panoramic points of view, this nature reserve takes up this challenge magnificently.