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Sur les Routes de l'Ardéchoise : Les Hautes Terres Distance : 346 km Altitude : 6540 m Pass : 21 Landscape Fun Accessible
In this section, the Ardèche volcanoes and sucs are comparable to those fêted in neighbouring Auvergne. The Ardèche mountains reveal their Atlantic slopes, with an exceptional light and glorious nature marking the 21 ascents, almost all of them reaching above 1000m altitude. The ridges are formidable but rich with reward: including the Mont Mézenc, the highest point in Ardèche, and Sainte-Eulalie, situated at the foot of Mont Gerbier de Jonc. Make sure you stop at Lake Issarlès, a volcanic gem nestling in a crater surrounded by fir tree forests and basalt flows. The water is incredibly fresh and pure.
If you can, visit the Maison of the Monts d'Ardèche regional natural park at Jaujac to find out all about the volcanoes and twisted land forms, and all about life in the villages so well adapted to harsh mountain conditions. And now that you're convinced by the therapeutic powers of volcanic waters, why not go for a short break at the thermal spa in Neyrac les Bains ?
The Hautes-Terres live up to their name – entailing a hundred or so kilometres at 1000m to 1500m altitude. The Croix de Bauzon pass, with its 760m ascent, is the first ridge in a beautiful series which take you up steep gradients (10% to 15%) on several occasions. The circuit will take you deep into the traditional country of the Ardèche plateaux. At Labastide sur Besorgues, turn left and link up with the smaller hills of Juvenas, Saint-Pierre de Colombier and Meyras. You'll come to Jaujac, at the foot of the magnficent Croix de Bauzon pass, then just keep pedalling until you arrive at the Pendu pass.
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