Barrage du gouffre d'enfer
No, it's not the latest Stephen King novel, but a real place as useful as it is remarkable - 100% nature - at the gateway to the Pilat massif.
You look a bit doubtful. Just follow the path, the truth lies at the end.
Don't get scared. The name is a bit troubling, but the site is really quite remarkable.
See for yourself: it was Napoléon III (no, not the one with the cocked hat, the other one) who ordered the building of this dam, which was designed by a Mr Montgolfier (grandson of the one who invented the hot air balloon), and guess what, this dam would be one of the first masonry arched dams in Europe. Not bad, eh?
Especially since not only would it supply Saint-Etienne with drinking water (the town was booming at the time - yes, yes, we were already the place to be), but it would also protect the town against flooding and maintain a steady water supply to the factories running on water power (yes, green already!).
And surprise, surprise, they thought they'd planned big, but three years later they had to add another dam (the Barrage du Pas du Riot).
There's a little bonus to the story: as soon as it was built they had the idea that it would attract tourists (species "guidovorus-naturophilus").
And the upshot was a magnificent path, but also the building of the Belvedere and lots of planting. And even rock swallows near the waterfall which has hollowed out a mysterious big hole (hence the "Gouffre d'Enfer" - the chasm of hell). And at the time, all that was pretty new.
We won't say any more. We'll leave you to follow the interpretation trail. It's all explained in pictures.
- Opening period
- Equipments & Services
Free of charge.
All year round, daily.