The Ardeche-Cevennes Divide

  • Distance

    203 Mi.

    (327 KM)
  • Days

    6

  • % Unpaved

    95%

  • % Singletrack

    5%

  • Difficulty (1-10)

    6

  • % Rideable (time)

    99%

  • Total Ascent

    22,000'

    (6,706 M)
  • High Point

    5,251'

    (1,601 M)

Contributed By

Olivier Latouille

Guest Contributor

Olivier loves cycling of all types including mountain biking technical hiking trails in the Alps, commuting to work on a fast e-bike, and carving the downhill singletracks of the Chartreuse where he lives. But his favorite types of adventures involve his wife and kids, on tough routes, looking for big spaces and remote landscapes… all the while taking pictures to show the adventure from the inside. Follow Olivier and his family at his blog tibouditinerances.jimdo.com.

The Ardèche-Cévennes Divide crosses through rolling hills, high plateaux, beautiful chestnut forests, and picturesque towns of Monts d’Ardèche and Cévennes National Park. The route runs along the watershed’s invisible line, following part of the Grande Traversée des Monts d’Ardèche mountain bike route before connecting to Cévennes National Park and the amazing landscapes near Mont Lozère, before finally flowing down to Alès through remote and unknown Luech High Valley.
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The Ardèche-Cévennes Divide is 330 km long and includes 6700 m of climbing along gravel, dirt, and rocky tracks. Starting in la Voulte-sur-Rhône, the route gently makes its way into the Heyrieux Valley along the Dolce Via, an old railway now converted to a gravel greenway. It reaches the high plateaux of Ardèche in Saint Agrève where the route connects to the Grande Traversée des Monts d’Ardèche mountain bike route. The route meanders between volcanic formations, huddled villages, and magnificent landscapes as far as the eye can see. From Mount Mézenc to the massif of Tanargue via Mount Gerbier de Jonc, you progress through pastures, hamlets, and diverse forests, following the invisible line, riding on the ridge between 1000 and 1600 meters above sea level, all the while crossing beautiful fishing rivers. The watershed boundary track has inspired an artistic trail named “Ligne de partage des eaux.” To be physically on this line means having the springs heading toward the Mediterranean under one wheel and those leading into the Atlantic under the other.

The second part of the route crosses Cévennes National Park at its highest point of Mont Lozère (source du Tarn), riding on ancient Roman roads and bridges, passing through the picturesque village of Pont de Montvert and down toward the city of Alès along the remote High Valley of Luech.

  • Ardeche-cevennes Divide Bikepacking Route
  • Ardeche-cevennes Divide Bikepacking Route

Route Difficulty

The route is not very technical and is generally all rideable, except one short section near Mont Lozère, where you may need to walk. This is a route for a capable mountain bike with a bikepacking setup. Riding this route in six days with bikepacking gear is quite challenging, meaning stages of 50 to 70 km and 1200 to 1500 m of climbing. Resupply is possible in the villages and towns through which the route passes.

Route development: The Ardèche-Cévennes Divide route uses a variety of existing designated trails, including a lot of grandes randonnée (GR) trails, local GR trails, and forestry roads. The section between Saint-Agrève and Montselgues rides along the waymarked Grande Traversée des Monts d’Ardèche mountain bike route, which was inspired and created by Le Département de l’Ardèche (local authority) and the Parc Naturel Régional des Monts d’Ardèche. The route goes north to south through the Département of Ardèche, starting in Annonay or Saint-Félicien, ending in Bourg-Saint-Andéol (315 km, 5569 m elevation). Learn more here. Also note that the route may be used to link up with the GTMC, another bikepacking route in this site.

  • Highlights

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  • Must Know

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  • Camping

    home

  • Food/H2O

    drop

  • Trail Notes

    signpost

  • Riding along the watershed’s invisible line that has inspired the artistic trail “Ligne de partage des eaux.”
  • Passing by Mont Gerbier du Jonc, the source of the Loire River. Don’t miss climbing to the top. In high season, you won’t be alone!
  • Riding through Cévennes National Park and the granitic Mont Lozère: Cévennes is the only national park in France with inhabitants inside the central protected zone. Mont Lozère is the source of the spectacular Tarn River and gorges, and you can you can camp right alongside the river near the Roman Pont du Tarn.
  • Discovering the remote areas of Monts d’Ardèche and Cévennes.
  • Tasting cakes and recipes with chestnuts from Ardèche-Cévennes (black currant with chestnuts, chestnut cakes…)
  • Rolling down High Valley of Luech through beautiful chestnut forests.
  • The best time to tackle this route is from April to November, as the highlands can be covered by snow from December to April. Summer in Ardèche-Cévenne tends to be hot and dry. Most of the trail is at or above 1000m altitude, and temperatures and weather conditions can vary significantly. Be prepared for all sorts of conditions and heavy storms in summer.
  • To ride this route we recommend a mountain bike with suspension fork.
  • To facilitate the return by train, the route ends in Alès at the railway station. Taking the train back to la Voulte-sur-Rhône is easy and gives the opportunity to visit historical cities of Nîmes and Avignon. The train route runs from TER Alès to Nîme, TER Nîmes to Avignon, TER Avignon to Loriol-sur-Drôme (and bike to La Voulte-sur-Rhône)
  • You should avoid the faster TGV (bullet trains) as they often require you to dismantle and box or bag your bike. Regional trains (TER) have spaces for bikes and you don’t need to book or pay for your bike!
  • Topographic maps from IGN (National Geographic Institute) are available at scale of 1/25000 (TOP25). There are also TOP75 maps at scale of 1/75000 covering Monts et Gorges d’Ardèche (14) and Cévennes Gorges du Tarn (11). Additionally, you can use iPhiGéNie apps and preload IGN TOP25 maps to be used offline.
  • Wild camping is generally tolerated, even in Cévennes National Park, but it’s best to set up camp at dusk and move on at dawn. #leavenotrace
  • Chalet de l’Aigle near Mont Lozère is a nice refuge to spend the night if the weather is getting bad (free, fireplace, table, bunks for up to eight people)
  • Along the route you can find campgrounds and other accommodation options (note: they may be closed in the low season).
  • Generally speaking, resupply and stopping in restaurants is possible in the villages and towns which the route passes (Saint Sauveur, Saint-Agrève, Fay sur Lignon, St Cirgues en Montagne, Loubaresse, Villefort, Le Mas de la Barque, Pont de Montvert, Alès).
  • Water is not a problem either, there are few sources and several livestock fountains. In the villages you will almost always find a fountain where you can refill.
  • Traditional Ardèche-Cévennes cuisine at Auberge du Mas de la Barque nearby Mont Lozère (don’t miss “l’assiette du randonneur” and the chesnut cake) and restaurant Au Parfum des Bois in Saint Cirgues en Montagne.

My best spots for setting up the tent :

  • Sagne et Goudoulet alongside the Padelle river (44,790196 ; 4,224015 / 1212m)
  • Pratarabiat nearby a source (44,609347 ; 4,058507 / 1367m)
  • Chalet de l’Aigle if it’s raining or cold (44,402069 ; 3,858210 / 1461m)
  • Pont du Tarn alongside the Tarn river (44,373418° ; 3,821856° / 1327m)

Terms of Use: As with each bikepacking route guide published on BIKEPACKING.com, should you choose to cycle this route, do so at your own risk. Prior to setting out check current local weather, conditions, and land/road closures. While riding, obey all public and private land use restrictions and rules, carry proper safety and navigational equipment, and of course, follow the #leavenotrace guidelines. The information found herein is simply a planning resource to be used as a point of inspiration in conjunction with your own due-diligence. In spite of the fact that this route, associated GPS track (GPX and maps), and all route guidelines were prepared under diligent research by the specified contributor and/or contributors, the accuracy of such and judgement of the author is not guaranteed. BIKEPACKING.com LLC, its partners, associates, and contributors are in no way liable for personal injury, damage to personal property, or any other such situation that might happen to individual riders cycling or following this route.

  • Angel Herrera

    A kickstand!? :)

  • SlowOldBloke

    Great stuff! Beautiful photos.

  • gringo

    This route looks fantastic.

  • Nathan Wamba

    Added on my to do list!

  • Stephanie Barrier

    Is it possible to rent bikes nearby for this route?

  • Olivier Latouille

    The french rental bike market is adressing more and more E-bike rental. It’s getting difficult to find reliable MTN bike rental. It will be difficult to find a reliable MTN bike rental nearby the route. The only serious one I found on Google search in one nearby Avignon.

    https://www.cycleone.fr/locations-essais/

    For your Google search the french key words are : VTT, location

  • wheelsofnz

    Excellent photos! Inspired to visit such a scenic part of the world

  • Olivier Latouille

    Thanks ! The frame is a custom Pilot Locum B+ designed in Holland… with a plate for the kick stand :-)

  • Christophe Buyck

    Hi Olivier, beautifull pics. I also took a look at your blog. I was hesitating between part of the gtmc or this one, but I think I’ll go for this one.
    Does it involve some hike a bikes ? The reason for asking is I have 3cm leg difference, hence I adapted my spd shoes on one side to eliminate the difference in length by putting a small piece of hardwood between shoe and spd cleat. This makes it annoying to walk a lot with those shoes. With hike a bike sections, I have to foresee better walking sandals or something similar (I saw you took croc’s as spare time footwear)

    Also did not figure out if I’ll travel to the start point by train (tgv, where I have to partially unmount the bike) or by car, coming from belgium…

    Any other tips are welcome.
    Cheers, christophe

  • Christophe Buyck

    After having ridden the divide in 5 days, I would like to comment on some info from the report above.
    I have to say I disagree with the percentages being rideable. The first stretch of 90km to Fay-sur Lignon are plain gravel and almost too easy rideable, but then the VTT de l’ardeche starts, with quite frequently sections that are unridable due to the technicality or steepness, or due to the fact that it are just big rocks and stones. These sections are just short connections between the rideable ones, but they are there and not to be underestimated. For sure good front suspension, even a full suspended bike comes in handy
    on a lot of descents.
    Hence for the remark on the map saying there is just one section where one might to be next to the bike to walk.
    When leaving villefort , leaving ardeche and entering cevennes, the route starts following GR72 which is so rocky and steep for 7km, that also here it is worth mentioning you should calculate 2 to 3 hours of traveltime. For this section. I was more off then on the bike. Once you cross the street and go to chalet de l’aigle, it is perfectly rideable gravel again, but the section before is undo-able.
    Another thing to mention is that there are sections where for half a day, you don’t cross any village or if one is crossed, there is no one at home.
    So a suggestion to take water for the day is not misplaced.

    Last but not least, my strave calculated 8000m of total ascent instead of the 6700 as mentioned. Throwing your gpx in several app’s shows similare ascent calculations..

    It would be nice to make some adjustments to the route report.

    Other than that, what a wonderfull region to explore on the bike. I had luck against me when trying to camp near pont du tarn. When arriving around 8PM, there was a van parked with 3 officers of the French ministry of environment, inspecting the area. They didn’t leave until I was moving on. I camped 1 mile further down the stream.

    Cheers
    Christophe

  • Matt Wenham

    Yes, and a solar panel by the looks of it too…

  • Matt Wenham

    Looks like the GR72 section can easily be bypassed by using the D66 road, and perhaps some of the tracks in this area:

    http://www.vttrack.fr/?zoom=15&lat=44.40216&lon=3.89243&layers=IGN%20Carte%7CSentiers%7C

    My best guess is that this section of the GR72 is probably at a technical level of T3. At this level, I’m considering putting luggage into a rucksack rather than attached to the bike, and expect to be pushing or carrying the bike on uphill sections, and sometimes downhill too. If you have luggage on the bike, it may therefore be wise to consider bypassing this section.

  • Olivier Latouille

    Hi Christophe, I’m just back from a bikepacking trip across Switzerland. First of all thanks for your feedback. It’s interesting to have opinion of other riders on the route to get it improved.
    Considering your first disappointment on sections being unrideable ont the Ardèche part, I disagree with you. This part is fully rideable even with bikepacking gear. I guess it’s a matter of skill and being used to technical downhill. I don’t remember getting off my bike on this part of the route. However, I will get the route improved for this issue.
    Considering the second remark on the steep climb after Villefort, I agree it’s hard work with bikepacking gear and I would advise to take the D66 road to bypass this section like mentioned by Matt.
    And last but not least, in Cévennes National Park, you are allowed to spend one night in a small tent (bivouac) as long as you’re near a walking track (50m), you’re un-motorised and you put up your tent between 7PM and 9AM.

    Cheers,
    Olivier

  • Christophe Buyck

    https://uploads.disquscdn.com/images/c7081222a440a6ba79965e53289f03f9095ea9a7c9d4952734bdabaa6448f7dc.jpg https://uploads.disquscdn.com/images/2026ef9968eb617e87de5246399e473f1d66a8e01c83f6518d5f6fb16e13b3d5.jpg

    Hi Olivier,
    Nice to see you still follow up on your routes and are open to improvement.
    How was the trip in Switzerland, similar to this one ? I plan to do the Vosges travesée this fall.

    Let me detail my comment on the rideable part of this trail.
    I’m convinced there are better skilled riders who manage to ride most if not all of the route, such as you, but they are the minority. I ride mtb since 15years and rode belgian ardennes, Wales human built trails, Grand traverséé du Jura, Navarra spain, and so many more.. so i consider myself knowing a fair deal of riding XC mountainbike and the technicallity of it all (I’m not the best and certainly not a mountain goat). On this trail, there were in my humble opinion, sections I would be unable to ride even without luggage.

    I consider the bikepacking community not necessarily the community looking for technical stuff you find in XC and trail or allmountain disciplines. For instance, looking at all the beautifull pics on the bikepacking.com reportages, usually they are shot on gravel or nice dirt-roads which are quite easy rolling.

    In that sense, I think I would present it more realistic saying there are here and there some pretty techy sections to conquer. They are few in numbers if you look at the bigger picture, but they are still there.

    Considering the second remark, I was frustrated at the time, cause afterwards I saw on the map I could have avoided the steepest section by going around taking a less steeper offroad section. But D66 avoids the whole section which is indeed a good recommendation

    About the free camping, I wasn’t aware. I remember that there were signposts about every mile with pictograms of no tent/ne sleeping bag, so I figured it was completely forbidden. I camped anyhow a bit further downstream. You can see pics on my strava post. https://www.strava.com/activities/1695070431

    Cheers
    Christophe

  • Olivier Latouille

    Hi again,

    Considering the difficulty level of 7.5 on Tour des Combins and 9 on Tour du Mont Blanc, and knowing these tracks, I will not change the difficulty level of the Ardèche Cévennes Divide, since it’s much easier. Doing so, would mean I’m not sticking to the backpacking.com difficulty scale.
    For instance, having just ridden the Swiss Divide with my kids last month, if I had to put a difficulty level, it would be like Tour du Mont Blanc, not less then 9. The Swiss Divide is a much more challenging route then Ardèche-Cévennes route that I consider as easy.

    Cheers,
    Olivier