Jackie once again volunteers to drive again as we head across country to the beautiful Ardeche gorge. The roads again are exceptionally narrow and windy as we head through valleys and up hills. Eventually Jackie’s headache is too bad and so it is my turn to step up to the driving. We find a parking area near a sports oval and with a good stretch of straight road with round abouts, so I can do a bit of practice before tackling the gorge road. Once I am feeling brave enough, off we go. The road follows the gorge, initially almost at river level, but then climbs as the hills increase. It is very windy and with lots of ‘belvederes’ (viewing spots), so I probably get more practice with gears stopping and starting than I would in 3 weeks driving at home!
Anyway, the gorge is spectacular. The water flows quickly and clearly and there are many canoists on there. We did not organize a canoe trip, and are a little jealous…until we see some of the rapids!
Unfortunately, with the concentration on the driving, changing gears, staying on the right side of the road, we actually miss the most important part of the gorge, the arch of rock…but I am not turning around and doing it again! Sorry!
The drive from one end of the gorges to the other takes a number of hours because of the slow speeds and all the stops. At the other end is a small village where we find a great patisserie for a coffee and cake (well deserved frankly). We then ask Gertie (the GPS) to direct us to our next destination, some caves. More narrow and windy roads….sigh! But we get there and have just missed the English language tour of the cave system. C’est la vie… they give us a brochure with the main points in English and we wait 30 mins and go on the French tour. The tour guide is obviously a character as he has the audience laughing…oh well. We spend an hour wandering through 3 enormous caves with stalagmites and stalactites, which is an hour well spent as it is all very impressive.
It is then an hour or so drive home again through more spectacular countryside and interesting looking little villages! Dinner and bed…I sleep well!