Be prepared to fall on your knees in awe: the steep and spectacular limestone Gorges de l'Ardèche cut a curvaceous swath through the high scrubland along the serpentine Ardèche River, a tributary of the Rhône. The main gorges begin near Vallon-Pont-d'Arc and empty into the Rhône Valley near St-Martin-d'Ardèche. En route, they pass beneath the Pont d'Arc, a sublimely beautiful stone arch created by the river's torrents.
From Vallon-Pont-d'Arc, the area's main hub, the scenic riverside D290 zigzags for 29km along the canyon's rim, with 29 belvédères (panoramic viewpoints) revealing dazzling vistas of horseshoe bends, and kayakers in formation far below. However, it can turn into a chaotic traffic jam in midsummer.
Vallon-Pont-d'Arc is also the main base for visiting the Caverne du Pont d'Arc, which houses replicas of amazing prehistoric paintings.