Gorges de la Pierre-Lys is a very scenic canyon located in the Aude department in southern France. The gorge is accessed to the south of Quillan, a pleasant town, but with little in the way of great monuments. It is however well placed to explore both the Cathars castles to the east and the dramatic gorges to the south. It’s one of the French balcony roads.
Tucked away in the Occitanie region of Southern France, the road through the gorges is totally paved. It’s called D117. The road is 8.2 km (5.09 miles) long, running north-south from Quillan to Saint-Martin-Lys, through the deep gorge at Pierre-Lys, with cliffs either side of the road stretching to 700 metres in height.
Beyond Axat the route passes through the equally dramatic Gorges de Saint-Georges and Gorges de l'Aude. All three offer a very good opportunity to enjoy the landscape, either from the comfort of your car - it is said to be one of the most stunning drives in France - or as a starting point for walking and cycling in the region. Some vehicles drive very fast, and the main risk on this road is coming around a blind corner to discover a vehicle proceeding toward you at high speed. If you want to admire the scenery, don't drive: the road is much too dangerous to allow your eyes to wander.
This road is one of the most famous balcony roads in the country. 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 best time of day to drive is at sunset, when the rocks become an event deeper shade of red, casting sharp, jagged shadows over the landscape.