These vertiginous and spectacular roads connect the Vercors mountain massif with the rest of the world. The daring routes, hewn directly out of cliff faces, often overhanging the abyss or passing through series of tunnels have made the remarkable roads of Combe-Laval, the col de la Bataille or the Petits Goulets justly famous. This is also a favourite playground for the historic Monte Carlo rally and those who prefer two wheels to four.
Nature in its raw and virgin state
Above ground, the limestone citadel of the Vercors reveals its dizzy vertical cliffs (Vierge du Vercors or Combe Laval), its majestic natural amphitheatres, its expansive plateaux (Plateau d’Ambel or Gagères), dense forests (forêt de Lente), unexpectedly deep gorges contrasted with lush pastures. The area is also home to an exceptionally rich flora and fauna.
Below ground, we enter the kingdom of cavers and potholers, and a range of cave systems and potholes such as the grotte de la Luire or la Draye Blanche.
All of the above contributes to the outstanding attraction of this landscape, a constituent part of the Parc Naturel Régional du Vercors. Since 1985, the park has been custodian of the Reserve Naturelle des Hauts Plateaux, the largest in metropolitan France. 17,000 hectares without a single road or village. Nature in the raw, of a rare beauty, criss-crossed by long distance footpaths such as the GTV (Grande Traversée du Vercors).
Sites of collective memory
The Drôme and more specifically the high Vercors plateaux are especially famous for their rôle as iconic French Resistance sites and one of the most important maquis in France. La Chapelle-en-Vercors, St Agnan–en-Vercors and Vassieux-en-Vercors paid a tragic price for this status in the summer of 1944. The entire region is today a centre of pilgrimage featuring a number of sites of collective memory. A central element of the 'Site National de la Résistance', the 'Mémorial du Vercors' at the Col de la Chau is set in natural surroundings, on the edge of a cliff, in the commune of Vassieux-en-Vercors. It offers views over the whole of the Vercors massif and the battlefield. Close by, the 'Musée départemental de la Résistance' describes the daily life of the maquis. You can also visit the 'Nécropole de Vassieux-en-Vercors', the 'Cour des fusillés' at la Chapelle-en-Vercors or the entrance of the Grotte de la Luire at St Agnan-en-Vercors.
A well-garnished basket
The clear waters of the Vernaison river flow through the rainbow trout farms whose produce can be eaten fresh, either filleted or smoked. As regards cheeses, the 'Bleu du Vercors-Sassenage', based on cow's milk and parsley, is proud of its protected AOP status. Le Royans shares with Romans-sur-Isère its speciality called 'ravioles' (IGP), tiny squares of fresh pasta stuffed with cheese, egg and Parsley. This is also the area where the 'noix de Grenoble' (AOP – walnuts) are grown, by around 20 Drôme producers. You should visit the Cave Noisel, at St Jean-en-Royans where walnuts are used for both aperitifs and desserts.