Above the gorge of the Ardèche

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September 26th 2021
Published: September 26th 2021
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After Mende we spent two more days wending our way through the quiet, green hills of the Cevennes. Then yesterday we stumbled into Tourist France. The first hint was the flotilla of multi-coloured kayaks floating down the Ardèche river. Then we reached Pont d'Arc, an incredible stone arch carved by the river over millennia. An awesome spectacle - and a destination of bus tours and helicopter charters...

We stayed at a chambre d'hotes nearby, and had another brush with meteorological disaster. Minutes after we arrived at the house, the skies opened with a furious deluge. The thunderstorm lasted all night and into the morning. We were starting to wonder how we could avoid getting soaked on the day's ride when the storm ended (after 16 hours!) almost as abruptly as it started.

A good thing, too, because our route today took us along the edge of the very deep and sinuous gorge of the Ardèche. What fascinating cliffs this river has carved out of the limestone! Apparently some of the earliest known human sites in Europe are in the caves sculpted out of the rock face by the river.

After about 30 km of winding to and fro (and up and down - it was a challenging day's ride, despite being only 45 km) we reached the point where the river widens out before joining the Rhone. Tonight we're staying in a quirky little mediaeval village perched on a cliff overlooking the river.

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