Cirque de Navacelles, Southern France

Listed as one of the top sights in Gard, the Cirque de Navacelles is worth a visit for both the scenic drive through the gorge of the Vis river and the valley views over the cirque itself. The narrow road that crosses the cirque with numerous hairpin turns is literally breath-taking and not for the faint of heart. The Michelin guide recommends starting the drive in Alzon, northwest of the cirque, heading south and then west to Gange, via D814 to Vissec, D113 to Blandas, D713 to Navacelles, D130 to le Castelet and finally D25 to Gange. 57Km/35mi – allow 2 hours. Belvédere Nord to the north and La Baume-Auriol to the south offer panoramic views of the cirque.

If you have more time there are well-marked trails that start in village of Navacelles located in the bowl of the cirque. From here you can climb to either viewpoint mentioned above or do a loop hike that runs through the valley up river along the Vis towards Vissec, affording many picnic opportunities along the banks. At Moulin de la Foux the Vis river comes roaring out of a rock face, another great picnic spot.

Above here, towards Vissec, the river actually disappears underground. At the moulin (mill) the loop trail heads back towards Navacelles along the north face of the canyon with views overlooking the valley and finally the cirque of Navacelles.

Starting in Navacelles we did the hike to La Baume-Auriol viewpoint and back continuing along the loop trail to Moulin de la Foux and back to Navacelles, 12.8 k with about a 600 meter total ascent.

Eating and Dining around the Cirque de Navacelles

Researching the area ahead of time we found very little in terms of services near the cirque. We therefore stayed at la Gare aux Anes in Combe Redonde, about an hour or so northwest. The inexpensive roadside hotel offers clean and charismatic rooms – high ceilings, white iron 4 poster bed, red flowered wall paper – in a quiet location off the D7. The dining room is about as un-French as I’ve seen, i.e. complete lack of style, with a mish mash of furniture, decorations and collectibles including a wall of ane, or mule, related flyers. The menu is reasonably good for the price and offers a half pension option for 23€ – breakfast and dinner, including dessert and a cheese course.

Here are a couple other Navacelles accommodations I noted while were driving in the area.

Auberge de la Cascade

 l’Ammonite

June 7, 2013

For links to all the posts in this series see the South of France page.