If you are looking for a beautiful spot for a shady walk down by the river, then here is the ideal place. The two theme trails in the Pas de Cère Gorges lead you to the very heart of this magnificent site, classified and protected as a Special Area of Conservation, Espace Naturel Sensible, a natural area of special ecological interest. This emblematic site near Vic sur Cère is completely enchanting and unspoilt, the perfect place to relax and unwind. Visitors of all ages will love coming here and the gorges have many secrets to reveal!
Feel in tune with nature in the Pas de Cère Gorges
Whether you access the gorges from Vic sur Cère or from Thiézac, the walk takes you along a marked-out trail that protects this fragile, natural site. Both footpaths lead you to the “Pas de Cère”, a small, pebbly beach with a 30-metre high cliff rising above the river. The Pas de Cère is a glacial rock bar formed more than 20,000 years ago and it is one of Cantal’s most important geological sites.
“The Mysterious River Cère Gorges” theme trail: a stunning riverside walk
A 5-minute walk from the Pas de Cère visitor’s car park on the RN122 main road will take you to a specially built viewpoint platform where you have a wonderful view over the Roucolle waterfall. With easy access and surrounded by safety barriers, the platform is perched over the valley with a bird’s- eye view over the impressive rock faces.
“7 million years ago, deposits from a rockslide blocked the valley of the River Cère and later formed a barrier that blocked the progression of the glaciers.” This is called a glacial rock bar. “The melting of the glaciers created a flow of water cascading over the top of the glacial rock bar, that, over a period of 12,000 years, has carved out this deep gorge revealing the reddish to orange matrix of the rockslide”, explains Frédéric Lecuyer, Earth Sciences specialist and volcanologist.
Access to the gorges is along a footpath that winds its way deep down into the woodland full of an amazing variety of wonderful, lush vegetation. The River Cère is a recognized natural habitat for otters and part of the Natura 2000 network of protected sites. Otters are extremely elusive animals and very difficult to spot. However, do make sure you watch out for them during your walk through the gorges. If you’re as quiet and discreet as they are, you may be lucky enough to catch sight of an otter cleaning its fur or eating a crayfish on the riverbank. An exceptional and magical moment for any wildlife lover.
The “Mystery at the Grand Hôtel” theme trail: a delightful trail that offers a glimpse into the area’s historical past
To join this trail, you can leave from the Tourist Information Office in Vic sur Cère and enjoy the 20-minute walk to the hamlet of Salvanhac and the visitor’s area/car park. It is here that the “Mystery at the Grand Hôtel” theme trail begins. The flat footpath covers 1 km and the theme trail takes you a step back in time to the 19th century. You’ll also have fun solving the mystery behind the strange disappearance of the “lady with the parasol”.
Along the way, you will come across several colourful parasols where you can stop and collect clues. The key to the mystery can be found on the other side of the footbridge at the Pas de Cère.
The first work carried out in the Pas de Cère gorges dates back to the creation of a hydro-electrical installation, the remains of which can still be seen today. This trail provides a fascinating insight into the history of Vic sur Cère around the 19th century and a chance to learn about its popularity with curists coming to take the waters at the bathhouse, the introduction of electricity, the arrival of the steam train and the building of many large hotels for visitors to enjoy.