One of the best hidden natural pools in the Aude department are the Cascades de la Nielle. You will find these small waterfalls south of the village of Saint-Laurent-de-la-Cabrerisse, also known as ‘the Gate to the Haute Corbières Massif’. It is a beautiful spot for a swim in the emerald green waters of the Nielle River.
I had some trouble finding the Cascades de la Nielle. So, let me explain how to find them and save you getting lost like me! I left Saint-Laurent-de-la-Cabrerisse going south along the Avenue de Talairan or the D613. This is the road on the left of the war monument, recognizable by the rooster on top of the memorial. After a couple of hundred meters, you will see a road on your left, which runs parallel to the D613 and splits off in three little roads (the middle one is called Taillo Pas). Now, this is the tricky part, as out of these three roads, you should take the most lefthand and follow three signs. Firstly, there is a sign marked with ‘maximum height of 1.8 meters’, secondly a sign with a blue arrow on it, and lastly one that says ‘portique à 100m’.
It took me quite some time to find the waterfalls. However, I was determined to get there, as I had seen stunning pictures of these naturally formed steps. After looking at Google Maps, getting lost in the vineyards, asking for directions, finding the Nielle River but not the cascades, and asking for directions again, I eventually arrived at the right spot. As soon I arrived at the parking lot, relieved to have finally found my way, I parked my car right away. But if you want, you can take the little road that crosses the Nielle River. This will bring you to another parking lot, which also has picnic tables.
Natural formed steps
I was delighted when I finally walked along the river. The water of the Nielle River, a tributary of the Orbieu River, finds its way through a wild landscape of rocks. When the river reaches the cascades, the water continues its way over naturally formed stone steps. Because the water is so clear, you can see these huge steps under the river like a giant staircase. This sight, along with the lush green shore of the river, is simply magical!
The Nielle River’s source is in Jonquières near Clermont l’Hérault. It flows into the Orbieu River approximately 100 kilometres south, at Fabrezan, between Narbonne and Carcassonne. Because it is a river, the water is rather chilly. I speak from experience! After my refreshing bathe, I went for a beautiful little walk through the gorge to find another fantastic naturally formed pool. Next time, I will bring my family for a picnic in this impressive scenery.