Defilé de Pierre-Lys

Soon after arriving in Quillan six weeks ago I wrote about the Defilé de Pierre-Lys. It’s the narrow gorge between Quillan and Axat and is the shortest route to the coast. The river Aude plunges through the gorge, hemmed in by cliffs both sides. It’s a popular rafting spot. This morning I am going through by bus.

Before the road was made surely any sensible road planner would have rejected the gorge routev; it’s not feasible. But at some stage someone decided it could be done. I’m guessing 1930s. It must have been a time when authorities believed any obstacle could be overcome by machines, explosives, and manpower. The road looks insane to me. Back in NZ I saw pictures and a video of the defilé and I looked at maps. I thought we would probably take a long detour north to reach Perpignan and the Mediterranean coast. But I was wrong. We have driven through the defilé several times. It no longer scares me much. The first few times I consciously took a deep breath and summoned my courage then quietly said ‘phew!’ at the end. I think the road ought to scare drivers at least a little. On this morning’s bus ride through the defilé I noticed a passenger near me mouthing words behind her fist. Praying? It was a bit freaky being in a window seat on the cliff side of the bus; rocks disturbingly close to me. But all was fine and I felt comforted by the thought that the driver must have come through the route hundreds or thousands of times.

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3 thoughts on “Defilé de Pierre-Lys

  1. William Christie

    That journey certainly does sound freaky… and you have been on some very steep winding roads in NZ. Was the road surface good … bitumen?

    Reply
    1. Stephen Christie Post author

      Yes, excellent sealed road surfaces. Re-reading my post, I think I’ve exaggerated the risk. It’s mostly in my head, partly from driving on right and partly from not knowing the road. Tomorrow’s visit to the Gorges de Galabus promises to be a more spectacular road but we probably won’t attempt to drive right through.

      Reply
  2. Pingback: Felix Armand | putitontheslate

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