Gorges de l'Aude, a French balcony road
Located in the Aude department in southern France, Gorges de l'Aude is a narrow canyon to the south of Quillan, itself south of Carcassonne. It’s one of the famous French balcony roads.
The road through the gorges is the challenging D118, with some narrow parts. It’s totally paved. Walking and cycling are recommended because the narrow roads will require much of your attention, and you will see less of the scenery from the car window. The canyon was carved over time by the River Aude, hurtling down the slopes of the Pyrenees. Spectacular sheer rock faces greet you around every bend. The road presents a high risk of rock slides. This is a remarkable road trip. Remember to bring your camera. The road can 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. Make sure you leave enough time to make plenty of stops along the way.
The most challenging part of the drive is a 8.9km long section, running from the town of Usson towards Gesse. The road is carved into the mountainside. The gorge is the example of it as the erosion of the water has gradually produced a slow and beautiful work, has carved the white limestone deeply, without aggressivity. It’s challenging and dangerous to drive and admire the scenery, at the same time. If you want to take a better look at the gorge landscape, it’s recommended to stop.
Pic: Suwannee Payne