Grands Goulets

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Grands Goulets
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The Grands Goulets Road shortly before its closure in 2005
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Grands Goulets
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Grands Goulets
Grands Goulets (Occitanie)
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Grands Goulets
Grands Goulets (France)
English translation"Great Bottlenecks"
State Drôme
Region Auvergne-Rhône-Alpes
Coordinates 45°02′48″N5°21′08″E / 45.046593°N 5.352170°E / 45.046593; 5.352170 Coordinates: 45°02′48″N5°21′08″E / 45.046593°N 5.352170°E / 45.046593; 5.352170
River Vernaison

Les Grands Goulets are gorges in the western part of the Vercors Massif, located in the department of Drôme in Southeastern France. The gorges form the head of the Vernaison Valley.

Between 1844 and 1851, the Grands-Goulets Road ( Route Départementale RD 518) was constructed, a "balcony road" built into the sheer limestone cliffs of the gorge to link the Pont-en-Royans area to the Vercors plateau at Échevis. The single-track road has numerous tunnels and few passing-places and was formerly popular with tourists. [1]

During the Second World War, the plateau became a stronghold of a French Resistance group called the Maquis du Vercors . On 22 January 1944, a column of 300 German troops arrived at the Grands Goulets on a punitive expedition. A small force of Maquisards attempted to block their progress but were either outgunned or outflanked by Gebirgsjäger Alpine troops at each blocking position that they established. When the coloumn reached Échevis, they burned the village in retaliation for the ambush of a German staff car a few days earlier. [2] A plaque at La Chapelle-en-Vercors commemorates the twenty Maquisards who were killed in the fighting. [3] The damaged road was later repaired and reopened in September 1945. [4]

The 2008 Grands Goulets Tunnel. Tunnel des Grands-Goulets a Les Barraques-en-Vercors -1.JPG
The 2008 Grands Goulets Tunnel.

After rockfalls in 2003 and 2005, the road was permanently closed to vehicles and pedestrians. A replacement road tunnel, 1,710 metres long and 7 metres wide was constructed, costing €50 million; it opened in 2008. [5] A scheme to reopen the top 200 metres of the road to pedestrians as a tourist attraction was proposed by local authorities in 2016. [6]

The Grands Goulets are classified as a ZNIEFF or Zone naturelle d'intérêt écologique, faunistique et floristique (Natural zone of ecological interest, fauna and flora). [7]

The Grand Goulets Road, circa 1900 Route des Goulets (34407480872).jpg
The Grand Goulets Road, circa 1900
The Grand Goulets Road, circa 1900 Route des Goulets (34569241545).jpg
The Grand Goulets Road, circa 1900
The Grand Goulets Road, circa 1910 Les Grands Goulets (34407473142).jpg
The Grand Goulets Road, circa 1910

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  1. "Les Grands-Goulets, a balcony road in France". Retrieved 1 February 2021.
  2. Ashdown, Paddy (2015). The Cruel Victory: The French Resistance, D-Day and the Battle for the Vercors 1944. London: William Collins. p. 97. ISBN   978-0007520817.
  3. Coustaury, Alain (July 2006). "PLAQUES AUX BARRAQUES-EN-VERCORS". (in French). Fondation de la Résistance (Département AERI). Retrieved 1 February 2021.
  4. Ashdown 2015, p. 365
  5. "Grands Goulets Tunnel Breaks Through in Gorges of Vercors". Tunnelbuilder Limited. 4 June 2007. Retrieved 1 February 2021.
  6. Gotschaux, Florence (27 January 2016). "La route des Grands Goulets pourrait rouvrir partiellement". (in French). France Bleu / Radio France. Retrieved 1 February 2021.
  7. "La Vernaison de Rousset aux Grands-Goulets - ZNIEFF* de type I" (PDF). (in French). Ministère de l’Environnement. 2007. Retrieved 1 February 2021.

45.046593, 5.352170