Cirque de Navacelles, a balcony road in France
Cirque de Navacelles is a deep, steep-sided canyon located in the Occitanie region in southern France. The cirque was once created by the River La Vis. It’s one of the famous French balcony roads.
This real gem of a discovery is traversed by the D130 and D713 roads. It’s 10.2 km long and links the towns of Blandas (in the Gard department) and Saint-Maurice-Navacelles (in the Hérault department). This amazing road is carved into the mountainside. It’s a road to die for (or die on, if you're not careful!). It's normal for your palms to sweat looking at those photos, imagine what it must have been like before the barriers. But the tiny brick wall at the edge of the road is not going to stop your vehicle from going over.
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. This geological spectacle in a beautiful environment, offers a great geologic experience. The canyon was formed long ago when a meander of the river Vis carved it into the limestone of the Causse plateau. Today, the river has dried up, leaving a wonderful spectacle of nature.
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 a sightseeing unique in Europe, forming an impressive natural amphitheatre with its tall limestone cliffs. The drive is not recommended for camper van vehicles. In the summer months, the little parking at the entrance of the hamlet becomes quickly overcrowded.
Drive with care as this is a mountain road with hairpin curves and narrow unlit tunnels. When you take this road as picturesque as it is narrow, with its many suprising meanders, drive carefully, and above all don't miss the parking spaces that have been provided. The road, located towards the southern edge of the Massif Central mountain, is very poorly maintained and is only wide enough for one vehicle. In order to pass the landform, a dangerous, but exhilarating, road which weaves down into the valley and clings to the sheer cliff face on the way back up must be braved. This journey is one of the draws for tourism in the area.
The drive is definitely worth it. A drive not to be missed! There are many excellent photo opportunities. Don't forget your camera with lots of film/memory, fully charged batteries and an empty memory card! This road tests the skill, and courage, of any driver. It’s definitely not for anyone suffering from vertigo or a fear of landslides.