The dramatic Tarn Gorges run from Le Rozier, north of Millau, to Quézac, in the Lozère department of the Massif Central, northern Langudoc-Roussillon. The easiest route through to enjoy all that this stunning place has to offer being the A75 which has the added attraction of the Millau Viaduct or “Bridge in the clouds” which you can either cross or leave the motorway and capture some great photos of it above Millau.
The gorges follow the Tarn River for approx 50 kilometres and are among the deepest to be found anywhere in Europe. They are also beautifully picturesque – one of the most scenic parts of France – and offer many great vantage points from where to enjoy their beauty.
Explore Les Gorges du Tarn
The old stone bridge at Quezac represents the north-eastern limit of the Gorges du Tarn and Les Vignes is considered to be the south-western end, but don’t ignore the river valley outside these places, because it is still very striking. In fact we carried on round to Florac before driving back across the plateau on the D16 and D68 and down into Montbrun which is an interesting switch back road with stunning views – just make sure you use a low gear and don’t over use your brakes. We did this journey in our car of course – not sure we would be quite so confident in the motorhome.
Allow a good few hours to drive the scenic road that follows the craggy gorges and makes exploring them very easy – it also has lots of stopping places, although not always in quite the place that you want to stop! We would also recommend following the signs to “La Pointe Sublime” which has magical panoramic views across the gorges we were also very fortunate to see plenty of Griffon Vutures wheeling and circling very close to us.
There are several attractive villages in scenic locations along the route that you will want to visit, including Montbrun, Castelbouc and Sainte Enimie. Other good stopping points include Blajoux and the ‘built in a cliff’ village of Pougnadoires.
Castelbouc is a small but very picturesque village (if you don’t have time to visit the village itself be sure to stop at the viewpoint for the village, on the main road); while Sainte-Enimie is a busy riverside town with a very lovely medieval village behind it. Nearby Saint-Chely-du-Tarn is also very attractive.
Be aware that during the height of the season the road through the gorges can be very busy with many vehicles vying for the few parking slots at the signed points of interest, if you can visit earlier or later in the year (May, June – September) you will get to see so much more and at a more leisurely pace.
Two of the most impressive hamlets are situated towards the western end of the Gorges du Tarn, at Hauterives and La Croze*. You can admire them from the road, but they are inaccessible to cars, and can only be reached by canoe or by walking.
*Interestingly, both of these hamlets had started to fall into disrepair, as river trade gave way to road trade, but now have wire ‘lifts’ installed so that materials etc can be transferred in from the road – this has given them a new lease of life, as the buildings can now be renovated.
Another interesting feature as you drive down the gorge is the face in the rock, this can be found between the circus of the Beaumes and Croze. Known as the face/head of Christ it seems to peer down onto the road below, if you can stop it’s a definite photo opportunity.
Lastly if you have time, hire a kayak (there are several sites along the river) and have a nice leisurely paddle along the river. We saved this to the end of the day paddling around 8km downstream from Montbrun and were really lucky to spot a Eurasian Beaver swimming along with a mouthful of fresh leafy twigs. You get a completely different perspective from the water, spectacular views of a different kind.
The Tarn Gorge is full of stunning scenery, amazing wildlife and somewhere not to be missed. We have my (Marcella’s) brother to thank for our stopover in the Tarn. If it wasn’t for his recommendation we may never have stumbled upon this majestic place. It is somewhere we will never forget so – thanks Bro!