Over nearly 200 km from Mont Gerbier-de-Jonc, the Loire experiences its first hours here in the majestic setting of wild gorges with basalt cliffs. Stretching over more than 1 km, it then flows into the Atlantic Ocean at the Saint-Nazaire estuary.

Here flows the Loire, the last wild river in Europe

From its first murmurs, the Loire invites you to travel. The villages caress the river, nature reveals itself and the first castles of the Loire stand as sentinels.
An impressive silence hovers in its wild gorges, a feeling of being at the end of the world where beauty and serenity combine to the extreme.

Along the Loire

Two wild rivers in Haute-Loire, Auvergne hiking

01

By foot

The best way to get into the Gorges de la Loire is certainly on foot, on marked paths, over a period of several days, taking the GR3.

Two hikes with your feet in the water in the Gorges de la Loire

canoe swimming rivers Haute-Loire, Auvergne

02

By canoe

Canoeing, another very slow way to travel, and to discover the immense biodiversity of the Gorges de La Loire. Far from the nautical highways, the Loire can be navigated by canoe from Vorey to Aurec-sur Loire. Along the water, meet the beavers and otters who come to repopulate the rivers.

Loire last wild in Haute-Loire, Auvergne low pond

Loire last wild in Haute-Loire, Auvergne low pond

03

For families

Remarkable biodiversity.

Along the Loire, there are spots, which have become real paradises for fish or rare birds, such as the night heron, which come to nest in the Ponds of Bas-en-Basset.

Biodiversity park walk

Two wild rivers in Haute-Loire, Auvergne Arlempdes

04

On a road trip

Here, we can be proud of having the first castles on the banks of the Loire. We forget Blois and Chambord to admire the medieval fortresses erected as sentinels on the Loire such as the castle of Arlempdes, Goudet, or further on the first pleasure castle of Lavoûte-sur-Loire.

See more

Mont Gerbier and the sources of the Loire

Mont Gerbier de Jonc, Source of the Loire, Pays du Velay, Haute-Loire, Auvergne Where the river rises from the volcano!

The Gerbier de Jonc (1 m) is the archetype of the phonolitic juices of this territory. Its compact shape is linked to the very pasty nature of the lava, dating back 551 million years.
From the Gerbier de Jonc and the surrounding phonolite reliefs, the longest river in France rises as if by magic: the Loire. A path leads to the summit of this famous phonolitic sap.
Another path (3 km) will allow you to discover the particularities of the site: from the “authentic” to the “true” source of the Loire, passing by the “geographical source”.

Le Gerbier de Jonc is also located on the watershed line between the Mediterranean Sea and the Atlantic Ocean. On either side of it, time and erosion have differentiated 2 geomorphological units: the Mézenc plateau to the northwest and a much more turbulent relief made up of saps and steep-sided valleys to the east.

The Gorges of the Loire Sauvage

The Gorges of the wild Loire, Pays du Velay, Haute-Loire, Auvergne. We have the image of the Loire as the “royal river”, a sumptuous and peaceful setting for the castles of the Loire Valley.
But the Velay sees the meeting of the very young Loire, still tumultuous, and the volcanoes of Auvergne. The longest French river has its source at Mont Gerbier de Jonc, in the north of Ardèche.

In the Upper Loire Valley as far as Puy-en-Velay, it powerfully cuts its way through the volcanic plateau and presents deep, rocky gorges. From Lavoûte-sur-Loire, its course can finally take its ease in the plain of Emblavez. The Loire reminds us here more than anywhere else that it is the last still untamed river in Europe, punctuated by the very first castles of the Loire.

It is home to astonishing fauna: otters, Eurasian eagle owls, short-toed eagles, white-clawed crayfish, pearl mussels….
This diversity is recognized by the classification as a Natura 2000 European protected area of ​​a large part of the Loire gorges in the Altiliger region.

In Vellavian history, the Loire was simultaneously constrained, natural and a source of wealth through fishing and the use of its strength in the mills. Today, it offers many leisure and relaxation activities!

Was this content useful to you?