Built between 1844 and 1851, Les Grands-goulets Road is a superb route that links the Royans area to the Vercors Central (France). The road was closed to vehicles and pedestrian in 2008. It’s one of the French balcony roads.
The surface of the road is asphalted. This small valley narrows 20 km further above the Vernaison River that turns into a 200 m high waterfall. The road becomes magnificient with the rock just over your head.
After la Plaine du Royans and the Petits Goulets, there is a succession of impressive tunnels that give access to the green hilly area of Echevis, stuck between the white cliffs of the Arps and the Allier.
The space between mountains is really tiny and on the opposite side of the road, the mountain is called "Rochers d'Echevis"... The road gradually climbs up from the pretty village of Pont-en-Royans, until the valley closes in and road takes you under cliffs, through rock arches and eventually through a section where only a little bit of light can make it through.
This road is one of the most famous balcony roads in France. A balcony road is a hair-raising lane cut into the sides of sheer cliffs. It’s a kind of road not for those who fear heights. There is little room for error on these roads. It’s normal for your palms to sweat looking at those photos, imagine what it must have been like before the barriers.
To reach the road, at Pont en Royans, take direction La Chapelle en Vercors via Sainte Eulalie en Royans. It finishes in a village called "Les Barraques en Vercors"... The road was cut in the cliff, and the sun never penetrates into the narrow pass, mossy and wet. You get the feeling to enter a cave... The Vernaison falls down in waterfalls and the road stays hung along the cliff. You could stop in several places to contemplate the Vernaison quite below... After several tunnels, the road drive down in twists towards the valley of Echevis, then again tunnels and cliff road to cross the narrowing of the Petit Goulet.
The road was built between 1844 and 1851. It was a huge human and financial investment. After 150 years in use, due its avalanche risk, it was closed to pedestrian and vehicles in 2008. This scenic road now is bypassed by a tunnel.