Gorges de l'Ardèche

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Mine entrance in the Gorges de l'Ardèche, near Pas du Mousse

The Gorges de l'Ardèche is made up of a series of gorges in the river and locally known as the "European Grand Canyon", Located in the Ardèche, in the French department Ardèche, forming a thirty-kilometre long canyon running from Vallon-Pont-d'Arc to Saint-Martin-d'Ardèche. The lower part of the gorge forms the boundary between the Ardèche department and the Gard department. The canyon is a tourist attraction, drawing over a million visitors per year, in addition to a rich historical and archeological site.

Most of the canyon is protected; it is governed by the Réserve Naturelle Gorges de l'Ardèche. Notable sights along the canyon include the Pont d'Arc at the beginning of the canyon, a natural arch 60 m wide and 54 m high. Much of the canyon is inaccessible except by water, and canoeing and kayaking are popular sports on the river. Overnight camping is not allowed, except for at two bivouac shelters.[1]

The cliffs offer habitat to rare birds such as the Bonelli's eagle.[2] (As of 2013 there were only two pairs in the Ardèche, and no more than thirty in all of France.[3])

Humans have lived in caves in the area for over 300,000 years. Over 2,000 caves are found in the gorge, some of them painted; the best-known painted cave in the gorge is the Chauvet Cave.[2]


  1. ^ Holden, Andrew; Fennell, David A. (2012). The Routledge Handbook of Tourism and the Environment. Routledge. p. 378. ISBN 978-1-136-32555-7. Retrieved 5 July 2013.
  2. ^ a b Automobile Association of Britain (2000). Journey Through France. W W Norton & Company. pp. 106–107. ISBN 978-0-393-32067-1. Retrieved 5 July 2013.
  3. ^ Meilhac, David (7 June 2013). "Un aigle de Bonelli, une espèce protégée, abattu dans les Gorges de l'Ardèche". France Bleu, Drôme Ardèche. Retrieved 6 July 2013.

Coordinates: 44°21′47″N 4°26′56″E / 44.363°N 4.449°E / 44.363; 4.449