The Watershed: An Artistic Hike In Ardèche
Since 2018, hiking enthusiasts and contemporary art lovers have been meeting in Ardèche to follow the artistic trail of the "Partage des Eaux". This route, approximately 100 km long, is a true open-air museum. It can be traveled in 5 stages along an invisible geographic line. We invite you to discover this unusual journey through the Monts d'Ardèche.
An artistic journey along the GR7
In geography, the watershed line separates rainwater into two drainage basins: one for the Mediterranean and the other for the Atlantic. In Ardèche, this invisible line has inspired the name for a hiking trail dotted with works of art.
"The Watershed" is a 90 km trek divided into 5 stages. It follows the route of the GR7, a 1500 km trail that starts from the Ballon d'Alsace and reaches Andorra in the Eastern Pyrenees.
In 2022, 100,000 hikers traversed the artistic journey of "The Watershed". Its development cost one million euros but has helped to raise awareness of the region's natural and cultural heritage.
A 4 or 5-day hike
The Partage des Eaux hiking trail winds at an altitude of 1000 meters, on the western border of the Monts d'Ardèche Park. It is in free access all year round, although some sites may become inaccessible at times due to bad weather. In winter, however, it is possible to reach most sites with snowshoes or cross-country skis.
To join this route, you will need to come by car or public transport. Once on the GR7, you can cover the entire artistic itinerary on foot, horseback, or by bike.
The route takes 4 to 5 days to complete and includes the following 5 stages:
• Stage 1: from Saint-Agrève to Fay-sur-Lignon.
• Stage 2: from Fay-sur-Lignon to Gerbier-de-Jonc.
• Stage 3: from Gerbier-de-Jonc to Saint-Cirgues-en-Montagne.
• Stage 4: from Saint-Cirgues-en-Montagne to Col du Bez.
• Stage 5: from Col du Bez to the Abbey Notre-Dame des Neiges.
Fourteen sites to discover
Since 2018, this section of the GR7 that runs through Ardèche has been transformed into a true open-air museum. This long-distance hiking trail allows walkers to discover various contemporary art pieces scattered throughout nature.
This artistic journey is punctuated by works from renowned artists. In addition to these astonishing creations, visitors can find specific design furniture and observation markers that help visualize the invisible geographical line between two watersheds. Along this unique hiking path, colored wooden poles, for instance, allow one to see the line drawn in the landscape.
At another point on the trail, an old Cistercian abbey now in ruins has been transformed by the artist Felice Varini. He adorned its walls and roofs with large golden circles made of gold leaf that capture light and animate this medieval relic with subtle plays of reflection.
In total, there are 14 remarkable sites to discover along this roaming hike. One of the most iconic is undoubtedly the Lighthouse imagined by the artist Gloria Friedmann. This blue tower over 7 meters tall stands atop the hills like a lighthouse in the middle of the ocean.
To learn more about this route and the surprises it holds, we invite you to visit the official website of the Monts d'Ardèche Regional Nature Park (link below).