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Blavet Gorges

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The GR51 trail passes through the forested hills to the south, going by the fantastic Gorges du Blavet about 5 km to the southwest of Bagnols-en-Forêt. The trails wind through the Bois du Défens and Bois de Malvoisin, with maritime pines and oak trees as well as strawberry trees, oleander and juniper bushes. The rocky outcrops in this wild region are red, contrasting beautifully with the deep blue sky and the green flora.

The bushes are tall and the trees are short so, even with the thick foliage, there's not much shade and summer hiking can get very hot indeed. When you finally take the trail into the gorge, you'll find perpetual shade as the deep gorge is filled with tall trees and sheltered by the high cliffs along the western side.

The GR51 trail runs along the base of the cliffs but well above the Blavet river running down the bottom of the gorge below, giving the pleasant sound of constantly running water. The flora in this extraordinary spot includes ivy, moss and ferns, completing the sensation of being in a tiny, tropical oasis. Some rock climbing is done here, and you might occassionally hear a shouted command filtering down through the trees, but the thick leaves will block the view of any other humans in this special place.

Along the base of the cliffs is a large, prehistoric grotto. The enormous opening tapers back into the cliff, with the floor rising and the ceiling dropping. The cave would have been dry in all weather, and have plenty of light as well as protection. It's now bare and has graffiti scars, but still has the ghosts of the ancient people who lived there.

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