The Gouffre de L’Oeil Doux is a well-kept secret

By May 31, 2019NATURE, TO DO
TO DO | NATURE
Gouffre de L'Oeil Doux

The Massif de la Clape is a South of France Natural Site that lies in a Regional Natural Park in the Narbonne region. It stretches from the Corbières to the Mediterranean Sea- over 70,000 hectares (!). Right in the heart of this unique landscape lies a mysterious phenomenon called the Gouffre de L’Oeil Doux, literally translated as the “Sweet Eyed Sinkhole”.

Preparations

As I had planned this trip for a while, I was well prepared and even brought along a picnic for us. We weren’t the only ones though, apparently the site is a popular spot amongst locals. Chéri got all dressed up in a fancy sport outfit, expecting a three-hour hike. Clearly, I wasn’t that well prepared, because when we discovered the sign to the trail, we found out that the sinkhole was only 0,8 kilometres from the parking lot. Even the kids thought this was doable.

Gouffre de L'Oeil Doux

Gouffre de L’Oeil Doux

Walking leisurely, on an easy path, we soon enough came to the Gouffre de L’Oeil Doux. And it was even more breathtaking than I was expecting it to be! Just imagine walking through scrubland and pine forests, and then all of a sudden you arrive at the top of some 40 metre high cliffs, with a bright green lake looking back at you. It was like finding treasure in the middle of nature!

Gouffre de L'Oeil Doux

Warning

Chéri and I did get a bit nervous about the height, as there were no barriers or other protection. Our kids are older, but it still didn’t feel comfortable letting them explore the site too far from us… Also, there are signs everywhere, clearly mentioning that the lake is not for swimming or diving. Apparently, each year people die by doing so, so be warned! As I wanted to take pictures from below as well, we followed the path and walked around the Gouffre. Arriving at another warning sign, we took a tiny, rocky path that brought us right to the bottom of the sinkhole. And from here, the view was just as incredible, with the reflections of the limestone cliffs in the emerald green lake.

Gouffre de L'Oeil Doux

Legend

The legend goes that numerous boats have tried to explore the sinkhole caves, to see where they come out on the coast. None of the boats ever returned though and, to this day, the source of the sinkhole remains unknown. We went back up to continue our way to the “Bergerie”, to make the walk a bit longer. Right after the bergerie, we took a left, to arrive back at the parking lot. While waiting for our girl, I looked back along the way we had come. And another great view left me breathless: the bluest sea combined with the red earth and the green pines. I’m sure that the Gouffre de L’Oeil Doux isn’t going to be the only secret unveiled in this natural site. I’m ready to reveal more secrets of the Massif de la Clape!

Gouffre de L'Oeil Doux

Info

Le Gouffre de L’Oeil Doux is an extraordinary natural phenomenon, situated in the Massif de la Clape and part of the Parc Naturel Régional de la Narbonnaise en Méditerranée. A walk to the sinkhole and the bergerie is about 2.5 kilometres long and takes about 1 to 2 hours (depending on how many pictures and breaks you take). It is absolutely forbidden to swim or dive in the lake or to climb the limestone cliffs.

Parking

The Gouffre de L’Oeil Doux isn’t difficult to find; you just have to know about its existence. My family and I drove to the “Parking du Gouffre” by taking the D1118 from Fleury to Sainte-Pierre-la-Mer. The parking wasn’t clearly indicated, but there are only two big parking lots on this road, and we chose the first one. The parking lot has several picnic tables in the shade.

Parc Naturel Régional de la Narbonnaise en Méditerranée
1 Rue Jean Cocteau
11130 Sigean
+33 (0)4 68 42 23 70

website

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