A picturesque balcony road through Gorges de Saint-Georges in Occitanie
Situated in the Occitanie region of France, the Gorges de Saint-Georges is a stunning canyon carved out by the Aude River. It’s one of the French balcony roads.
A brief history and construction of the road through Gorges de Saint-Georges
The road running through the gorges, known as D118, is not just a pathway but a testament to the past. Constructed between 1816 and 1836, its strategic position and narrow construct meant that until 1840, for military reasons (primarily to deter the passage of artillery trains from Spain), it was forbidden to widen the road beyond 2 meters.
Navigating the road through Gorges de Saint-Georges
As a part of the Pyrenees mountain range, this road is notoriously narrow. For a significant stretch, it is just a single-track road hugging the mountainside, making passing another vehicle a prayerful hope. The road runs tantalizingly close to the watercourse, a mere ten meters above, and has seen its fair share of nature's fury, having been completely flooded on January 23, 2020.
Stretching 4.8 km (2.98 miles) from the junction with the D17 road to Axat, drivers on this road should possess adept reversing skills, as opportunities to turn around are scarce. Given its tortuous nature, the journey is not for the faint-hearted. However, those brave enough are rewarded with breathtaking views. It's not uncommon for visitors to experience sweaty palms just looking at the gorge's photos. One can only imagine the thrill before safety barriers were installed.
Activities and attractions
Gorges de Saint-Georges isn't just for driving enthusiasts; it's a hub for adventure seekers. The river below is renowned for whitewater sports, including rafting, kayaking, canorafting, and hydrospeed.
What is a balcony road?
For the uninitiated, a balcony road is a lane carved into the sheer sides of imposing cliffs. Renowned for their narrow paths and breathtaking drops, these roads are not for those who fear heights. Driving on the Gorges de Saint-Georges is as picturesque as it is exhilarating, with many surprising twists and turns. But, as always, safety first. Drive cautiously and make good use of the parking spaces provided along the way.