Frozen water that spikes like the quills of a hedgehog, extinct volcanoes where rivers plunge into ‘gigantesque’ rock cauldrons, and torrents tumbling amidst limestone rocks that look like holey cheese; our guide to 10 of the best waterfalls in France has all of this, and more.
There’s just something about a waterfall that beguiles the senses. The fractions of light that send rainbows bouncing through the foam, the thunderous roar of gallons and gallons of water falling vertically. The sheer joy of standing under the torrent yourself and giving your hair a good old scrub in nature’s power shower.
Waterfalls have captured the minds of artists and poets for centuries, and formed the backdrop of countless adventure stories for children. These days we are, of course, fed a rich diet of long exposure shots by some of the best photographers in the world (often on social media). These photos transform the most ferocious torrents of water into soft white lines that look like gently exhaled smoke.
France might not have waterfalls the height of Angel Falls or the scale of Iguazú, but the geographical diversity of the country means that there are plenty here that are worth chasing. Let’s discuss them.
Cascades du Hérisson
Where: Jura, Bourgogne-Franche-Comté, East France
Jura’s ‘hedgehog falls’ spill down in spiky levels over layers of limestone, and when they freeze during the winter the water forms icicles that look like the quills of a hedgehog. There are 31 different falls here, the highest of which is 65m. Simply put, this is an incredibly pretty part of France.
Where: Haute-Savoie, Auvergne-Rhône-Alpes, East France
Cirques are mountain depressions carved out by glaciers, and here at Fer-à-Cheval is the largest in the Alps. Nature then added a little water, and left us with one of the most visually spectacular waterfall destinations you’ll find anywhere in France. The cirque is vast, measuring 5km across, and skinny waterfalls pepper the towering limestone cliffs; giving off the impression that the mountains are drooling. Come here, and we guarantee you’ll be drooling as well (at the view, that is).
Cascade de Piscia di Gallo
The Piscia di Gallo, or ‘cock’s piss’, is much prettier than the name would suggest. Pouring down with a confident jet from 50 metres up. there are even little turquoise pools at the bottom of it for swimming in. In the midst of the Forêt de l’Ospédale, a mountainous pine forest, the spine of Corsica is perfect for hiking. In the hot, summer months, the dehydrated ‘rooster’ often runs out of urine.