Gorges de la Pierre Lys, a nice balcony road.

Gorges de la Pierre Lys
Gorges de la Pierre Lys

The Gorges de la Pierre Lys, also known as the Pierre Lys defile, are gorges located in the Pyrenees, in the south of the Aude department. They are part of the gorges of the high valley of the Aude, a very small river valley in its central half, carved by the river Aude. This canyon is defined by its length, narrowness, and rocks that are high and sharp.

Where is the Pierre Lys gorges located ?

The route is located in the Aude in the Pyrenees in southwestern France.

You can locate the Gorges de la Pierre Lys road on the map below:


Enlarge the map

Facts about the gorges:

The Gorges de la Pierre Lys are a beautiful gorge in southern France’s Aude province. The gorge is accessible to the south of Quillan, a lovely town with few noteworthy monuments. It is, nevertheless, in an ideal location for visiting both the Cathar castles to the east and the stunning gorges to the south.

The road through the gorges is completely paved and is located in the Occitanie area of Southern France. It’s known as D117. The route runs 8,2 kilometers (5 miles) north-south from Quillan to Saint-Martin-Lys, passing through the steep gorge of Pierre-Lys, with cliffs rising to 700 meters (2300 ft) on either side.

History of the Pierre Lys gorges:

Until recent times, the gorges could only be crossed on foot by the river when its level was low. Nonetheless, the river has been used for the transportation and exchange of timber since the Middle Ages. Nowadays, road transportation is the main mode of transportation, and it has largely taken over. The gorges, which form a natural barrier, represent the border between the Razès and the historical province of Fenouillèdes.

The abbot Félix Armand, who solemnly struck the first stroke of the pick at the foot of the rock that obstructed the valley’s entrance, was responsible for the passage of the Pierre Lys gorges. A small and convoluted road was already passing through this massive bulk more than six years later, in May 1781.
The path that had become a road was classified as a departmental road in 1821.

How access to this road ?

To get to this wonderful road, you can get there from the north of Carcassonne, then take the D118 road until you reach Quillan where the road D117 starts.

If you’re traveling from the east, from the city of Perpignan, take the D117 road until Saint-Martin-Lys where the road into the gorges starts.

You can visualize how to get here on a map of the drive:

Things to do in the area?

The gorges of Pierre Lys, a fantastic location for wild water sports, are one of the Pyrenean massif’s highlights. Every year, 50,000 people come here to try their hand at rafting, whitewater swimming, and kayaking.


These gorges are also a great place to go rock climbing or hiking long distances.


A path connects the settlement of Belvianes and the Belvédère du Diable, which overlooks the canyon, for hikers.

If you are planning to drive into the gorges of Pierre Lys, you can watch this Youtube video:

In conclusion, if you are traveling in the south of France, you should not miss this magnificent balcony road with its grandiose gorges, which make it a magnificent road. Small advice: to drive through early in the morning to be able to take its time and not to cross too many vehicles

Pictures sources: By Gilles Guillamot, CC BY-SA 3.0, https://commons.wikimedia.org/w/index.php?curid=58063847


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