Day 4 – Cirque de Navacelles

The last part of our 1.5 hour journey to the small village of Blandas takes us over a very narrow pass up to a high plateau. It’s a good thing there is very little oncoming traffic, as there are only a few places where the road is wide enough for two cars to pass each other. We set off from Blandas towards a deep, circular valley.

The closer we get to the valley’s edge, the quieter Harald gets in anticipation, as he knows what we are about to see.

And all of a sudden a magnificent view of the Cirque de Navacelles opens up before us. Several hundred metres below us, the river Vis has carved its way deep into the limestone. The valley’s walls rise up steeply and at its bottom we can see a cockpit karst and at its foot the village of Navacelles. I quickly realise that today is the highlight of our hiking week.

Talkessel Navacelles
The deep circular valley Navacelles

The descent makes all my bones hurt but the wonderful views make up for a lot of the strain. Once we have reached the bottom of the valley, we stop at an abandoned mill for our first break. The water shoots out from the mountain (not through the Vis) and through the once inhabited houses. In order to make optimum use of the water’s force, the houses were practically built on top of the river.

Wanderung Navacelles
Break at the old mill

After a long break we walk along the Vis towards the Cirque. Having arrived there, we treat ourselves to another short break in the Café Navacelles l’Ammonite, as the café is beautifully situated in a small, sunny courtyard with a view of the cockpit karst on the village edge. Also, we need regain our strength as the difficult climb back up to Blandas still lies before us. We walk uphill for about an hour on steep, gravelly paths. We walk at a comfortable but steady pace, interrupted by numerous breaks that allow us to look at the deep valley and the Cirque from every angle. The impressions – including of the last few days – border on overstimulation.

Back at the top we take a last look at the valley and then head back to Sommières, where we round out the day with a delicious dinner at a small restaurant on the market place.

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