France // The Massif Central //

The Gorges du Tarn

Millau is the gateway to the spectacular Gorges du Tarn, which cuts through the limestone plateaux of the Causse de Sauveterre and the Causse Méjean in a precipitous trench 400–500m deep and 1000–1500m wide. Its sides, cloaked with woods of feathery pine and spiked with pinnacles of eroded rock, are often sheer and always very steep, creating within them a microclimate in sharp distinction to the inhospitable plateaux above. The permanent population is tiny, though there’s plenty of evidence of more populous times in the abandoned houses and once-cultivated terraces.

The most attractive section of the gorge runs northeast for 53km from the pretty village of Le Rozier, 21km northeast of Millau, to Ispagnac. A narrow and very twisty road follows the left bank of the river from Le Rozier, but it’s not the best way to see the scenery. For drivers, the best views are from the road to St-Rome-de-Dolan above Les Vignes, and from the roads out of La Malène and the attractive Ste-Énimie. But it is far nicer to walk, or hire a boat. There are two beautiful caves about 25km up the Jonte river from Le Rozier.

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