Jan 25, 2024
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Le Passage du Gois: The Road that Disappears in France

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Le Passage du Gois is the renowned road that mesmerizes visitors with its fascinating phenomenon of appearing and disappearing. This magical road surrenders to the ocean when the tide rises, only to reemerge under the sun when it recedes. Nestled in the picturesque Vendée region in the central-western part of France, this natural passage seamlessly connects the charming island of Noirmoutier to the mainland village of Beauvoir-sur-Mer via a 4.3-kilometer (2.67 miles) long asphalt road, part of the national road D948. This is one of the best road trips in France.

Passage du Gois aerial view

The Road that Disappears

Twice a day, as the sea makes its rhythmic dance, the Passage du Gois undergoes a spectacular transformation. It remains visible, permitting passage, solely during low tide and the brief window half an hour before and after it. The remainder of the time, the road lies submerged beneath the sea at depths ranging from 1 to 4 meters.

Not only is the Passage du Gois a marvel of nature, but it also holds the status of a national monument, drawing locals and tourists alike. Daily, especially during peak seasons, hundreds of individuals traverse it, whether on foot, bicycle, or by car. Some adventurers, however, find themselves caught by the tide, seeking refuge in the strategically placed rescue towers until help arrives. This unique passage, discovered in 1701 and reconstructed with cobblestones in 1840, stands as a testament to the harmonious dance between nature and human interaction.

Passage du Gois, high tide

Passage du Gois, high tide

Passage du Gois – Noirmoutier Island Schedule

It is quite common to get stranded in the middle of the passage as the rapidly rising tide catches you by surprise, whether you cross on foot or by car or motorcycle. For those planning to experience the wonder of the Passage du Gois, exercising caution is paramount. Adhering to the signage on both sides of the passage and staying informed about tide schedules is crucial. A dedicated website offers up-to-date tide schedules and current weather conditions. Parking alongside the road is strictly prohibited for obvious safety reasons.

Passage du Gois at sunset

Passage du Gois at sunset Hugues

Passage du Gois, two cars risking it all

Passage du Gois, two cars risking it all

Passage du Gois, the road dissapearing, Wings1884

Passage du Gois Accident in 1999

In addition to its natural allure, the Passage du Gois has etched its mark in sports history. The Tour de France, in 1999, featured the passage in its second stage, proving pivotal as a fall on the slippery asphalt caused the peloton, including several favorites like Alex Zülle, one of the favorites to reach Paris in the yellow jersey, to lose a significant 6 minutes to the leading group. The stage was ultimately claimed by the Belgian Tom Steels, while Lance Armstrong secured victory in the overall race. The Passage du Gois continued to play a role in the cycling spectacle, serving as the starting point for the 2011 edition, in a neutralized manner at the beginning of the stage.

Passage du Gois Map

Europe · France

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