Located at the heart of the Fenouillèdes massif, on the border of the departments of Aude and the Pyrénées-Orientales, in France, the Gorges de Galamus are a real challenge for drivers. It’s an amazing drive along a balcony road that is so narrow in places that two cars could not possibly pass. If you can cope with nausea inducing narrow roads with sheer drops, then this is the place for you! It’s one of the French balcony roads.
The roads to cross the gorges, extremely narrow and dangerous, are D10 and D7, and both are a challenge for car drivers. Crossing the gorges by car is possible all year but in summers the road becomes very busy and the traffic problems are obvious. In July and August there’s a special regulation. These roads through the gorges are very lovely but can also be very challenging if you are driving, with many sections too narrow for cars to pass and a strong chance you will need to reverse around a blind corner on a narrow road!
The gorges are located in the towns of Cubières-sur-Cinoble and Saint-Paul-de-Fenouillet in the Pyrénées-Orientales and have a length of 2km. There are sheer drops virtually along the entire route and enough hairpins to make a whirling dervish dizzy. A quick glance at the map at its sheer drops and serpentine twists and turns, confirms that this is no hype. Because its narrowness, it is impossible to turn back. The views are stunning for passengers but you can't stop for the driver to see the views too. The weather is unpredictable. Expect high winds often.
The route starts in Saint-Paul-de-Fenouillet a commune in the Pyrénées-Orientales department in southern France. After 9.3km going through the infamous Gorges de Galamus, the road arrives to Cubières-sur-Cinoble, a commune in the Aude department in southern France. 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.
Your wheels will be astounded at the wonderful views of the mountains spread out before you! They are terrible for drivers who are prone to vertigo. In many places the road is bordered by a drop of hundreds of meters (many hundreds of feet) unprotected by guardrails. It runs as a single track road along the mountainside for some distance with nowhere to pass another vehicle. Here one says a prayer that nobody is coming towards you until the road widens some kilometres further. The twisty road is carved into sheer cliff walls that drop 1,000 feet into the river gorge below, with the short 3-foot stone wall offering no safety barrier if you hit it on a bike and flip over it.
The route demands 100% concentration. This road has humbled many egos. You can go slowly, but expect to be blocked and have some difficult manoeuvres if you cross someone from the other side. It’s not for the sissies and shouldn’t be attempted by novice drivers. It’s an amazing drive through the narrow gorge with very steep and large drops to the river below!
It still remains an adrenaline-pumping journey and is definitely not for the faint of lungs, heart, or legs. The Galamus gorges extend over 2 m, a spectacular natural site with vertiginous limestone cliff faces. Words can’t describe the road and pictures don’t do it justice. It is recommended that beginner riders avoid this road. The gorges were impassable until the 1890s when the road was built by men attached to ropes.