The most spectacular hike we have ever made in the Gorges de l'Ardèche or the Grand Canyon of France. Allow 5-6 hours for this walk because you will definitely go for a swim and look at the many rapids.
Twenty years ago we found this walk in an ANWB book. The walk immediately caught our attention. For the experienced walker, not suitable for children, you must be able to swim, not suitable outside the high season and with rising water, difficult route, not without danger and the most difficult day trip. That was pretty much the summary of the walk. And all this still applies today, so be well prepared or else don't start this walk!
At the time we really enjoyed it. The descent into the gorge, the route along the Ardeche with its many rapids, the canoes that keep passing by, the steps and handrails that have been installed to pass the most difficult rock passages. And of course not to forget the many swimming spots with beautiful clear water.
The route has disappeared from the next edition of the ANWB guide and the paths were also not on the local hiking maps. Nevertheless, we took the plunge in 2019 and with GPS in hand and the old booklet, we eventually walked the route all the way again. Our conclusion is that the route is still easy to do. In some parts, the tools have even been renewed along the way.
The starting point is a small car park in the hamlet of Les Crottes. From Les Crottes we slowly descend into the gorge of the Ardèche. The deeper we descend into the gorge, the more beautiful the wilderness of trees and shrubs. At one point we hear the water and we come face to face with the first rapids, the Rapide du Gue de Guitard. How many canoes do you see capsizing here?
We now follow the left bank for more than 6 km and pass the rapids: Rapide du Chanet, Rapide du Rossignol, Rapide du Pigeonnier, Rapide du Casque de Dragon and finally perhaps the most notorious Rapide du Dent Noire.
On the way we pass some caves and many swimming spots. After Rapide du Dent Noire we climb out of the gorge on the left side and a fairly tough climb back to Les Crottes awaits us.
Places of interest
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