Ardèche Gorges Lookouts
Gorges de l'Ardèche Belvédères - Provence Beyond
Lookout points (Belvédères) are located along the 36-km roadway between Vallon-Pont-d'Arc at the top (NW) and Saint Martin-d'Ardèche at the bottom (SE) of the Gorges. Most of the lookouts are directly beside the road, and all of them have easy access for people of reduced mobility.
Every lookout point has a parking area just beside. The parking areas can get a bit crowded later in the day during July and August. However, we visited every one of the belvédères during a Saturday in early August without any problem.
Ardèche Gorges Lookout Points
We've listed each of the belvédères in order, from the upper end to the lower end of the Gorges. The distances are listed (from the top) and [from the bottom]. The top-end distance is measured from the roundabout (traffic circle) at the southeast corner of Vallon-Pont-d'Arc, the junction of the D290 and D390 roads. The bottom-end distance is measured from the road junction D290-D290A/rue Grange de Fabion at Saint Martin-d'Ardèche.
- Vallon-Pont-d'Arc D290-D930 (0 km) [36.0 km]
- Pont d'Arc (4.3 km) [31.7 km]
- Balcon Serre de Tourre (9.0 km) [27.0 km]
- Balcon Autridge (13.9 km) [22.1 km]
- Balcon Cros Olivier (17.0 km) [19.0 km]
- Balcon Gournier (18.9 km) [17.1 km]
- Maison Reserve, entry road (19.8 km) [16.2 km]
- Balcon Cathedreal, entry road (19.8 km) [16.2 km]
- Balcon Templiers-East (22.4 km) [13.6 km]
- Balcon Templiers-South (23.1 km) [12.9 km]
- Balcon Maladrerie (23.9 km) [12.1 km]
- Balcon Rouviere (25.2 km) [10.8 km]
- Grande Belvedere (29.2 km) [6.8 km]
- Ranc Pointu (33.5 km) [2.5 km]
- St-Martin-d'Ardèche D290-D290A (36.0 km) [0 km]
Pont-d'Arc is the site of a natural rock bridge arched over the Ardèche river near the upper end of the Ardèche Gorges. This site is very picturesque, of course, and also very popular for launching canoes, casual drifting on the river and swimming.
The stretch of road and river between Pont-d'Arc and the nearby town of Vallon-Pont-d'Arc is lined with campsites, canoe and boat rental places, river-boating tour sites, food stands and other amenities for tourists.
The parking area for the Pont-d'Arc lookout is very limited, but people come and go fairly rapidly so a bit of patience can be useful. From the lookout point, it's a short drive (towards Vallon-Pont-d'Arc) to the rental places where you can park and walk down to the river.
Balcon Serre de Tourre
The Serre de Tourre lookout point is large and very popular, the northern-most point along the Gorges with a view of the canyon and the river. The river makes a large, looping oxbow here, with the tiny hamlet of Chames along the north side.
The Balcon Autridge lookout point is accessed by a short sideroad-loop off to the side of the main D290 road. There's a short set of steps down the hill to the actual lookout point, which has a view southwest over a steep part of the canyon. [We didn't stop for photos here, because of a time restraint.]
Balcon Cros Olivier
The Balcon Gournier lookout has a great view of the Ardèche river flowing through the canyon, and a view of a set of rapids where there's always a lot of canoe-kayak activity. It was one of our favorite spots along the Gorges.
Maison de la Reserve
The access road to the Maison de la Reserve site is 100 meters up-canyon from the junction with the D590 road (the route to St Remèze and the Marzan Aven grotto). Once you turn off onto the access road, it's 500 m down to the Maison de la Reserve, with a large (free) parking area.
Access to the lookout point is through the museum-gift shop building. There are good views of the canyon and the river, as well as shaded park benches and picnic tables available.
The Balcon Cathedrale lookout point is (we think) a fairly long walk from the Maison de la Reserve site. We didn't find any reference to it until we were leaving the Maison de la Reserve, and didn't take the time to investigate further.
This lookout point has a view onto the south side of the Cirque de la Madeleine, the deep, looping end of an oxbow in the Ardèche river. Both the east-side and the south-side views for the Templiers lookouts are quite similar. From both you can see the location of the Templars' Maladrerie ruins, but you don't have a close view of it.
The Balcon Maladrerie lookout has a good view up-canyon, across the Ardèche oxbow forming the Cirque de la Madeleine. This place has the best view down to the ruins of the Templars' 12th-century Maladrerie, an ancient hospital for returning Crusaders with the plague.
The Balcon Rouviere lookout has a great view of the Ardèche river coming out of the Cirque de la Madeleine, flanked by high cliffs on both sides. There's a good view of canoes and kayaks on the river, and you can see the Templars' Maladrerie ruins (but a bit far away).
The Grande Belvedere (literally, the "big lookout point") has a view south across the top of the wooded canyon, and you can see in the distance where the Ardèche river runs between Saint Martin-d'Ardèche and Aigueze. The village of Aigueze is perched on top of the cliffs directly beside the river, but you'll need binoculars to see it well from here.
Compared to the other lookouts along the canyon, we didn't think this one was really very "grande".
The Ranc Pointu lookout is the first one you'll see if you're driving north up the canyon from St Martin-d'Ardèche. The view is quite good here, with the river curving around beneath tall, rocky cliffs, and a view down to passing canoes and kayaks, and sunbathers and swimmers enjoying partial privacy.