Albi to Gorge du Verdon

May 22nd, 2011, 03:12 AM
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Join Date: May 2011
Posts: 71
Albi to Gorge du Verdon

I'm in the process of putting together an Itinerary starting and ending in Avignon. I am initially heading west to the region around Albi, and will be finish in the area just north of Avignon.
I'd also like to take in Gorge du Verdon.

The options I have are as follows
1) drive from Albi to accommodation close by the Gorge
2) drive to the area approximately half way between Avignon and and the Gorge
3) Drive to my Accommodation just North of Avignon for the end of the trip giving an extra night here.

I'm thinking option 1 would be at least a 3 hour drive, which I wouldn't mind. Doing so would give me close access the next day, but would mean a good one and a half hours drive back to my accommodation north of Avignon the following day.

Option 2 would be feasible providing my hotel etc would mind my bags the following day before heading back west towards Avignon

Option 3 book the extra night near Avignon and use the rest of the day sight seeing around this area. The following day I would leave about 8 am with intentions of being at the gorge by 9:30pm and leaving about 3pm . This would give me a good 5 and a half hours to drive around the gorge?
Option 3 is my current preference

Any thoughts please

PS I have 11 days in total for the trip and these couple of days would be the only ones which would be considered a little strenuous/ busy. (mid trip)
greenerpastures is offline  
May 22nd, 2011, 03:58 AM
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Since you plan to go to Albi from Avignon why not substitute the Gorges du Tarn instead of Verdon? Not quite as deep but still spectacular and you get the added benefit of the amazing Millau Viaduct as well....
ParisAmsterdam is offline  
May 22nd, 2011, 04:32 AM
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Thanks P A

Just looking into some pics of Gorges Du Tarn now, looks spectacular as you say. I'm was planning on to visit the Millau viaduct on my way to Albi. Any particular areas of the Gorge Du Tarn you could recommend?
I will carry out further research either way!
Thanks again
greenerpastures is offline  
May 22nd, 2011, 06:19 AM
Join Date: Nov 2004
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I agree with ParisAmsterdam - the Gorge du Tarn in MUCH more interesting than the Gorge du Verdun. We've stayed in Ste Enimie, but you can also stay at the Chateau de la Caze in the gorge. In addition to the gorge, there are some fabulous caves with stalactites & mites in that region. Stay for 2 nights.

Here is something I wrote about the Gorges du Tarn.

Here are three options for staying in the Gorges (Jonte & Tarn) area. You can either stay in Meyrueis, or in a beautiful castle just northeast of La Malene on the Tarn River, or also on the Tarn in the very pretty village of Ste Enimie. I have never visited Meyrueis – we drove there but did not visit in ’04. My Michelin Red Guide lists a Chateau d’Ayres, which is 1.5K east of the town. It’s in a large park, has a pool, vaulted inside dining area, outside dining, and it’s very quiet. Rooms in my 04 guide are 111 to 114 E, and half pension is available. Just northeast of La Malene is the gorgeous Chateau de la Caze. It’s actually a 1 star chateau in the green guide. I’ve never stayed there, but we have walked the grounds & toured the castle – it’s quite remarkable. It has a pool, nice grounds, but as you might expect, it costs a little more. Rooms are 118 to 162 and the price of meals is higher than at the Ch d’Ayres. We did not go inside this hotel when we were there in ’04, but on the previous trip we remembered it being a little dark & cold inside. That, however, may be an appealing aspect. For less expensive accommodations, stay in Ste Enimie at the Auberge du Moulin. Rooms are 54E and ½ pension is available. We stayed there on a past trip & it was quite nice, although it’s a more “basic” hotel than the two chateaux that I’ve described. The advantage to staying in Ste Enimie is that it’s in a village with some interesting shops, cafes, etc.

Switch to map # 330

Touring the Gorges de la Jonte** and the Gorges du Tarn***.
Please don’t try to see these gorges in 1 day. They are remarkable, and the gorge walls appear different at various times of the day with sunlight patterns shining on the ochre colored faces of the cliffs. The roads through these gorges are at the bottom of the gorge. When driving from east to west, you will see different things than what you saw driving west to east. There are many lookouts you can drive or walk to, that give you panoramic views of the Causes (Causse in French) (see description), and the canyons – don’t miss these lookouts. There are also many medieval villages & castle ruins scattered here & there. You will go through a lot of film.

I won’t describe a set itinerary for visiting the Gorges. We visited only the Gorges du Tarn in 6 hours one day, and returned several days later to see it again with a different sun perspective. On the second trip we also visited the Gorges de la Jonte. All total, we probably spent 10 or more hours exploring the gorges. In the guidebook, they describe a “Causse”. This is the plateau above the gorge that often stretches from one gorge to another. For example, the Causse Noir is between the Canyon de la Dourbie and the Gorges de la Jonte. The Causse Mejean is between the Gorges de la Jonte and the Gorge du Tarn, and the Causse de Sauveterre is north of the Gorges du Tarn. These causses are quite picturesque too.

Here are some sites not to miss on the Tarn Gorge:
1. Ispagnac+ Northeast end of the Tarn. Very cute town with a smallish town square. There is a large Romanesque church, which is worth a visit. To the right as you enter, you can punch a button to get an “audio” guide from speakers in the church. Also, lights focus on the various things described in the audio.
2. Quezac Only OK – stop & explore if you are planning on visiting the gorges area for 2 full days.
3. Castelbouc* Old castle ruins with a small village at it’s base. Park the car along the road & try to limit your pictures to only 3.
4. Chateau de Prads Nice chateau.
5. Ste Enimie* This is probably the only village worth spending some time in, and it’s classified as one of TMBVoF. It’s a great village to explore the nook & crannies. There are several places where you can get a bite to eat or pick up a sandwich (jambon/buerre) to eat on the run.
6. Cross the river at Ste Enimie & take the D986 south. Drive for a while & you will be rewarded with a fantastic view of the Gorge du Tarn, looking down on the village of St Chely du Tarn and the Cirque de St Chely*. Retrace the route back to Ste Enimie.
7. Chateau de la Caze* If you are not staying here, at least explore the chateau as much as they will let you.
8. At La Malene, cross the river and take the switchbacks up & up & up & up to the Causse Mejean. Pull off as you start the ascent to get a fabulous view of the town of La Malene & the chateau at the front of the village. Don’t be afraid of the switchbacks - they are “doozies” but the reward at the top is well worth it. Once at the top of the cause, turn right on the D16 and then right again to the Roc du Serre** and the Roc des Hourtous**. Visit the Roc du Serre first. Park the car when signs say you can’t go any further, and walk to the lookout over the Gorges du Tarn (it’s an easy 15 min walk there & 15 mins back). This is why you should spend 2 days exploring this region – you probably would not take this detour on a 1 day trip. Read about both these Rocs in the Green Guide under “Malene”. After the Roc du Serre, drive a short distance to the Roc des Hourtous, park the car, pay the entrance fee, and walk a few paces to get another lovely view over the Gorges du Tarn. This spot has a place where you can get some refreshments, and there is a WC. When you are finished with these two Rocs, don’t return to La Malene along the switchbacks (I probably won’t need to convince you of this). Instead, continue west on the D16 to Les Vignes – the descent back to the Gorges is not as bad as the ascent. Return to La Malene – this drive along the gorge floor is the prettiest part of the Gorges.
9. Point Sublime*** This view is why we returned for a second visit. We wanted to see this panorama with a different sunlight exposure.

Visit Aven Armand*** You can get there by driving over the Causse Mejean from either Ste Enimie or Meyrueis on the D986. Remember, there is a lunch closing, except in July & Aug.

Visit & explore the Chaos de Montpellier le Vieux***-. We spent several hours there. See the GG under Montpellier le Vieux. If you have trouble walking, perhaps this is not for you. The most spectacular places to view the rock formations require some walking over rocks, boulders, stairs, etc. My wife “opted out” (bad feet) for the walk to the best viewpoint. There is a “petite train” that will take you to a good viewpoint, so it’s possible for some in your party to see the best sites while others take the less strenuous option. Here is my recommendation for exploring this area. When you enter the Chaos, you will pay a fee & get a map at the entrance. Proceed & park your car in the big lot. There are lunch facilities there and also a good WC. Both the Green Guide and the map you get describe the various walks you can take (strangely, the map you receive at the entrance gate has north at the bottom). All the various walks are very well marked. The Petite Train has a lunch break. Inquire about the next departure time for the train. If it departs soon, hop on it (don’t know the fee – we didn’t take it) and explore the area reached by the train (I’ll explain later). After returning from the train trip, or if the train does not depart for an hour or so, take the red “main route” to the Douminal. The view from the Douminal is by far the best, although it’s the difficult one to get to that I described earlier – especially the last one-quarter of the walk. After viewing the panorama from the Douminal, return to the parking lot and either take the train or leave the Chaos. For the train ride, it is kinda bland. They stop at the Belvedere, let you get out, view the panorama, and then return to the train. The train continues and then stops at a roundabout (see the map). I recommend getting out here and walking the “yellow” walk until you tire or things become a little repetitious. Find out the time of the return train, plan your walk accordingly, & take the train back to the parking lot. Here is what we actually did. We walked to the Belvedere. It is not a difficult walk, but it’s not that scenic either. We took in the view at the Belvedere, & then proceeded along the red “main route”. It immediately became difficult. Instead of following the red “main route”, we walked down to the paved train road, saw the signs that said “no pedestrians”, and proceeded along this route to the roundabout. It was the lunch break & we knew there would be no trains. We did the yellow walk & returned to the train road & proceeded back to the car park. The lunch break was over while we were on the road, so we hid in some bushes when we heard the train coming.

Next day

Continue exploring the gorges, caves, and chaos. Perhaps visit the Grotte de Dargilan**

Stu Dudley
StuDudley is offline  
May 22nd, 2011, 03:16 PM
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Posts: 71

your Itinerary seems akin to the pace I'll be travelling at, appreciate the time taken for the post!
One silly question, my french is minimal, introducing myself in french and asking in french if someone knows english. I assume locals in these smaller towns are less likely to know english if required? Not that it will put me off, but interested to know how you got on?
greenerpastures is offline  
May 22nd, 2011, 04:28 PM
Join Date: Nov 2004
Posts: 14,955
My wife speaks French - so we got along just fine.

On several of these journeys, we heard little or no English spoken for 2 weeks or more.

Stu Dudley
StuDudley is offline  
May 22nd, 2011, 10:42 PM
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Thanks Stu, I am sure I'll have an interesting time with the language!
greenerpastures is offline  
May 23rd, 2011, 09:04 AM
Join Date: Sep 2007
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Great info from Stu! We only had part of a day on the way to le Puy en Velay so drove through the Gorges from Millau and climbed out at Ste Enimie. I have been wanting to go back ever since.

If you can afford the time take a kayak trip down the river. That's something I plan to do next time.

Don't worry about your lack of French... the number of French who can now speak English amazed me after a gap in visits of over 20 years.

If you search Youtube you'll find lots of videos... I have posted a couple here:

I'm sure you'll have a great time.

ParisAmsterdam is offline  
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