Les Grands Goulets

Explore the Legendary Les Grands Goulets: a French balcony road

Built between 1844 and 1851, Les Grands Goulets is the name of a legendary road located in the Drôme department in the Auvergne-Rhône-Alpes region of France. The road was closed to vehicles and pedestrian in 2005. Vertigo guaranteed. It’s one of the French balcony roads.

How long is Les Grands Goulets road?

Set high in the French Alps, this iconic road (Route Départementale RD 518)  is totally paved. It’s 1.7km (1.05 miles) long running from Pont-en-Royans area to the Vercors plateau at Échevis. The road runs above the Vernaison river, and offers a breathtaking view of the Royans. The road becomes magnificient with the rock just over your head. It takes you under cliffs, through rock arches and eventually through a section where only a little bit of light can make it through. 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... 

Is Les Grands Goulets road still in operation?

Located in southeastern France, the superb road was replaced by the 1,710 metres long Tunnel des Grands-Goulets in 2008. The old road remains as the emergency exit of the tunnel (to which it is connected by galleries). As such, the road is maintained and cleared of snow in winter, even though no one is using it. After 156 years of leading travellers through the mountains by this winding and narrow road, the French government was forced to permanently close the historic road in 2005 after a series of fatal accidents and rockfalls in 2003 and 2005.

When was Les Grands Goulets road built?

The road was built between 1844 and 1851. It was a huge human and financial investment. In the early 19th century, without any passable roads for horse-drawn vehicles, the 5,000 strong residents living in Vercors were feeling increasingly isolated from the rest of the world. The decision was made to build a road that would connect Vercors with the south, a mind-boggling investment of man-power, time and money. Without the technology we have today, the construction of such a road seems inconceivable, with perilous methods used to build the road, involving hanging down the side of the mountain on a rope ladder and throwing dynamite into the rock, swinging out of the way just in time to avoid being blown up. Ten years after construction began, the road was finally ready; a breathtaking but daredevil journey with sharps turns and blind curves.

Is Les Grands Goulets road worth it?

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. The space between two mountains is unnerving at points and the road is often so narrow that squeezing past an oncoming car was a dangerous and time consuming ordeal. Often very steep and high up in the gorge, the road had no guardrails. Today the old road sits abandoned and untraveled. Not even cyclists or hikers are allowed to venture its long and winding route. While there are rumours that it might re-open for such purposes, the tourism office maintains that les Grands Goulets and its spectacular sights are closed forever and closed to all.
Pic&more information: https://www.francebleu.fr/infos/insolite/la-route-des-grands-goulets-pourrait-rouvrir-partiellement-1453836699