The Massif de la Clape is a South of France Natural Site that lies in a Regional Natural Park in the Narbonne region. It stretches from the Corbières to the Mediterranean Sea- over 70,000 hectares (!). Right in the heart of this unique landscape lies a mysterious phenomenon called the Gouffre de L’Oeil Doux, literally translated as the “Sweet Eyed Sinkhole”.
As I had planned this family trip for a while, I was well prepared and even brought along a picnic for us. We weren’t the only ones though, apparently the site is a popular spot amongst locals. Chéri got all dressed up in a fancy sport outfit, expecting a three-hour hike. Clearly, I wasn’t that well prepared, because when we discovered the sign to the trail, we found out that the sinkhole was only 0,8 kilometres from the parking lot. Therefore, even the kids thought this was doable.
Gouffre de L’Oeil Doux
Walking leisurely, on an easy path, we soon enough came to the Gouffre de L’Oeil Doux. And it was even more breathtaking than I was expecting it to be! Just imagine walking through scrubland and pine forests, and then all of a sudden you arrive at the top of some 40 metre high cliffs, with a bright green lake looking back at you. It was like finding treasure in the middle of nature!
Chéri and I did get a bit nervous about the height, as there were no barriers or other protection. Our kids are older, but it still didn’t feel comfortable letting them explore the site too far from us… Also, there are signs everywhere, clearly mentioning that the lake is not for swimming or diving. Apparently, each year people die by doing so. So, let this be a warning! As I wanted to take pictures from below as well, we followed the path and walked around the Gouffre. Arriving at another warning sign, we took a tiny, rocky path that brought us right to the bottom of the sinkhole. And from here, the view was just as incredible, with the reflections of the limestone cliffs in the emerald green lake.
The legend goes that numerous boats have tried to explore the sinkhole caves, to see where they come out on the coast. None of the boats ever returned though and, to this day, the source of the sinkhole remains unknown. We went back up to continue our way to the “Bergerie”, to make the walk a bit longer. Right after the bergerie, we took a left, to arrive back at the parking lot. While waiting for our girl, I looked back along the way we had come. And another great view left me breathless: the bluest sea combined with the red earth and the green pines. I’m sure that the Gouffre de L’Oeil Doux isn’t going to be the only secret unveiled in this natural site. I’m ready to reveal more secrets of the Massif de la Clape!