This spectacular gorge is located in the southern Aude region. We had ventured to this neck of the woods back in January when we went to visit the Cathar castle Queribus. Once outside of Perpignan, the roads guide you through some gorgeous vineyards that stretch as far as the eye can see. Rising majestically in the air and acting as a stunning backdrop, are the Pyrenees mountains. You drive past the Queribus castle before coming to the small but charming town of Saint-Paul de Fenouillet. The signs are plentiful that direct you to the Gorge. As you leave the town, you start the climb up into the mountainous terrain. For some, this drive can be treacherous. We have travelled in this area once before so we knew what to expect. No matter, the road is very narrow with hairpin turns and very few areas with any kind of guardrail. We were glad we were traveling this area in the off-season as the cars were few and far between and in some areas only one vehicle can pass.
There was a good-sized parking lot available at one end of the gorge. From there we read the signs, took in the incredible views and decided to walk down the path into the gorge. The walk was pleasant over a downward beaten path - at a few points we needed to climb over branches or uneven rock but for the most part it was a leisurely trek. As you descend into the gorge, it is hard not to stop in numerous places to look at the views. The walls made of stone give way to rocky ledges with brush and trees growing from what seem like impossible spots. It is really breathtaking.
At the end of the path you come to the L’ermitage de Saint-Antoine that dates back to the 6th century. It was originally a single cave carved into the basin of the mountain. In the 1700’s a beautiful chapel was built and perfectly nestled into a crevice on the side of the stone wall. You can’t even begin to imagine how this structure was built into such a precarious position. It would be difficult to do today – never mind 100s of years ago! Unfortunately on the day we visited, the chapel was closed. However pictures we have seen indicate that the inside is incredible.