Straddling the Lozère and Aveyron regions, the TARN GORGES are among the most spectacular natural sites in France. Don’t miss to discover them during your camping holidays in Lozere or your camping holidays in Aveyron.
The Gorges du Tarn is a magnificent winding canyon drawn by the Tarn between the Causse Méjean and the Causse du Sauveterre. In the limestone soil of the Grands Causses, the river has taken its time to dig a deep gash. Bordered by a road which connects Millau to Florac without ever leaving the river, the Gorges du Tarn can be discovered by car, on foot or by canoe. Hiking trails allow you to play tightrope walkers on the ledges which overhang the high cliffs, real stone walls which surround the Tarn. The Gorges road is a superb route to be completed by car. Never boring, this itinerary takes you from village to village through some of the most spectacular landscapes of the gorges. By canoe or during a boat trip, you will be offered another view of the gorges. You will discover the cliffs on the right bank which can only be seen from the road.
Going up the Tarn Gorges
During your walk in the Tarn Gorges, take the time to stop and visit some of the villages which are dotted along the river. If you discover the Gorges du Tarn by following the current, from the Lozère to the Aveyron, then make a first stop at Castelbouc. On the left bank of the Tarn, this semi-troglodytic hamlet seems to be suspended from the cliff, in the shade of the ruins of its medieval castle set on a steep rock 60 metres high. Legend has it that a lord who remained alone among his subjects during the Crusades lived a life of lust. At the time of his death, the silhouette of a goat is said to have been seen flying over the castle, giving the village the name of Castelbouc (Bouc is goat in french).
Listed as one of the most beautiful villages in France, this village spreads out in terraces at the foot of an old Benedictine monastery in a meander of the Tarn. Legend has it that Princess Enimie, affected by leprosy, came here to treat her illness at the source of the Burle river. She withdrew to a cave to live as a hermit in the heights of the village. A chapel now protects the cave. A path that starts opposite the bridge of Sainte-Enimie leads to this hermitage (about 3/4 of an hour round trip). There you can enjoy a beautiful view of the village.
On the left bank of the Tarn, the charming village of Saint-Chély nestles at the bottom of a circus surrounded by high cliffs, at the foot of the Méjean causse. In addition to its very beautiful church with its square bell tower, its old bridge and its medieval houses, the village is especially worth visiting for this magnificent setting. Two resurgences which cascade down into the Tarn river magnificently complete the picture. Below the village, the beach of Saint-Chély is one of the most beautiful of the Gorges du Tarn.
Although La Malène is a pretty village with medieval buildings, it does not have the charm of Sainte-Enimie or Saint-Chély. It is however an important stopover in the Gorges du Tarn. It is indeed the starting point of many canoe descents as well as the base of the boatmen of the Malène. The latter offer you boat trips on the emerald waters of the Tarn de la Malène to the Baumes cirque through the Détroits. The morning is the best time of day for a boat or canoe trip from the Malène. The route benefits from beautiful sunshine during this part of the day.
Les Détroits, the most spectacular part of the Tarn Gorges
The straits are the most beautiful and narrowest part of the canyon. Here, the Tarn is enclosed between vertiginous cliffs which plunge steeply into the river. In some places, the canyon is barely more than 30 metres wide at the bottom of the gorges and 100 metres at the top of the cliffs, between the Causse Méjean and the Causse du Sauveterre. A boat or canoe trip remains the best way to enjoy the spectacular scenery of the straits. It is also the best way to appreciate the depth of the gorges which sink in certain points 600 metres below the plateau.
The Cirque des Baumes
The straits come to an end in the Cirque des Baumes. Here, the canyon widens and composes a circus hollowed out of caves, baumas in Occitan. Many birds nest in its red-coloured cliffs. With these cliffs but also its ruiniform rocks, the cirque des Baumes is a particularly popular climbing spot.
The “Point Sublime”
Arrived at the village of Les Vignes, let us leave the Gorges for a moment to join the Causse du Sauveterre which culminates here at 870 metres altitude. Following the signs, go to the belvedere of the Point-Sublime. There, you will remain speechless in front of an exceptional panorama which encompasses a large part of the Gorges du Tarn, the Tarn which winds 400 metres lower and the steep cornices of the Méjean causse. If you only have to take one photo when you visit the Tarn gorges during your camping holiday in Lozère, this is the place to take it!
Hiking on the Corniches of the Tarn and the Jonte from Le Rozier
Back in the valley, the road leads us to Le Rozier. This village is situated at the confluence of the Tarn and the Jonte rivers and at the meeting of the Méjean, the Causse Noir and the Causse du Sauveterre. Nothing justifies a visit to Le Rozier. However, at the exit of the village the rock of Capluc awaits you. At the top of this rock, accessible by ladders, is one of the most beautiful points of view of the region as it allows you to admire both the Gorges du Tarn and the Gorges de la Jonte. Be careful however: climbing the rock with ladders can be difficult if you are prone to vertigo. From the Capluc rock starts one of the most beautiful hikes in the region. This loop takes you first of all to the ledges of the Tarn, before turning to the ledges of the Jonte, famous for the Sèvre and China vases, rocks with surprising shapes. During this hike, raise your eyes to the sky. You should see vultures which are numerous to nest in the Jonte Gorges. Count between 3 and 4 hours of walking for this tour.
Once past the village of Le Rozier, the Gorges widen. The Tarn river, the Jonte, forms a valley where vines and cherry trees grow. Less spectacular, the landscapes are no less beautiful. And there are plenty of excuses to make a stopover, starting with the medieval village of Mostuéjouls with its cobbled streets or the castle of Peyrelade. The latter is a perched medieval fortress (12th century) which watches over the entrance to the Gorges du Tarn. During the summer season, the visit of the castle is enhanced by medieval animations. Consult the castle’s website to find out the exact dates of these events.
Our campsites in the Gorges du Tarn