About Gimel Les Cascades
Gimel Les Cascades (literally Gimel The Waterfalls) is the name of both the collective set of waterfalls as well as the charming town above them. The waterfalls may also be referred to as Les Cascades de Gimel (the waterfalls of Gimel).
The waterfall series located right below town consisted of three named drops. From top to bottom, they were Le Grand Saut (or the big leap, which dropped 45m over three successive steps), La Redoule (which twisted and dropped 38m towards a footbridge), and La Queue de Cheval (or horse’s tail, which plunged 60m in one tier). There was also another named entity according to the signs, which was known as Le Gouffre de L’Inferno. However, I wasn’t sure if this referred to the misty area at the base of Queue de Cheval or if there was a fourth but distant or inaccessible waterfall. I had gone as far as the main tourist walk would allow me just downstream of Queue de Cheval, but that was when the path terminated a dead-end.
After getting to the town of Gimel Les Cascades and finding parking (near a war memorial just across the street from the visitor center), we then followed the signs indicating that we had to walk downhill another 400m to access the falls. During this part of the walk, we followed the main road between a handful of quiet shops, a church (which was quite cool and drafty inside considering it was over 30C during our visit), and some remnants of an old chateau (or castle).
Towards the bottom of the descent, the road traversed the stream over a bridge, which was right above the waterfalls. And a few paces further took us to the chalet (really a cafe) where we paid our entrance fee of 5 euro per person (at the time we did it). That allowed us to start a loop walk that descended towards an attractive-looking building where the trail branched further downhill towards falls 2 and 3 while another branch went behind the building on a path towards Le Grand Saut as well as a spur trail to the top of La Redoule.
While the trail leading closer to Le Grand Saut continued further uphill, this part of the trail was deprecated because it led back up to the original entrance to the falls, which was now closed. I think they closed this access because they wanted you to go through the main entrance besides the chalet where there was a snack bar as well as infrastructure to collect admission fees from visitors.
The diversion spur to the top of Redoule gave us an appreciation of the height of this second drop of the falls as well as a different perspective of Le Grand Saut.
Continuing back along the main trail towards falls 2 and 3, we had to descend some switchbacks until we made it to the bottom of the descent alongside the stream. A branch to the right led over a bridge in front of La Redoule towards a lookout with a frontal view of this waterfall.
Meanwhile, the branch to the left descended alongside the impressive Queue de Cheval. The further we went on the trail, the more direct (and misty) the view of this tier of the falls became. In fact the mist carried so well that the trail near its dead-end further downstream was wet and muddy.
Once we were done checking out this last waterfall, the trail then continued up a pretty extensive series of switchbacks leading right back up to the chalet. Once up there, the loop walk was complete and we could return to town along the main road that we descended to get here (and now have to ascend to return).
All told, the overall excursion from leaving our car and returning to it took us over 90 minutes including all the photo stops as well as just taking our time on the walk.
Gimel Les Cascade is in the department of Corrèze in the Limousin region about 13km northeast of Tulle in South Central France. It took us close to 90 minutes to drive from Cascade de Salins to this town via winding and narrow rural roads. It also took us just under 90 minutes to return to Mt Dore from Gimel Les Cascades via the A89 autoroute. By the way, that autoroute was the preferred method to do this drive.
Once in the town of Gimel Les Cascades, we found limited parking near a war memorial and lookout of the valley containing the falls below (we could definitely hear the falls from up here) across the street from the visitor center. However, if parking here is not an option, there’s additional parking (signposts indicate this) further up town which would probably increase the walking distance by another 10 minutes or so each way.
For geographical context, Le Mont-Dore was 213km (about 2.5 hours drive) west of Lyon. The city of Lyon was 466km or at least 4.5 hours by car from Paris. However, we used the very fast and efficient TGV (high speed train or le train a grande vitesse), which wound up taking around 3 hours to cover this stretch between the two major cities.
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