Cascade du Saillant is a truly wonderful waterfall at the little hamlet Saillant (east of Marcenat) in the region of Auvergne/Cantal, France. Strangely enough it was an unofficial named waterfall for a long time until tourists found their way. Today, Cascade du Saillant is a popular destination for tourists and nature enthusiasts. Visitors can take a leisurely hike through the surrounding forest, following the river as it winds its way through the valley. They can also explore the nearby village of Argentat, which has a rich history and is known for its beautiful architecture and charming streets.
From Marcenat take road D36 to the east towards Ardes sur Couze. The landscape along road is wide and desolated. I stopped many times to make pictures and I never saw this landscape in France before. At Le Saillant go right, there is small signs “cascades”. Drive along the houses until you see the parking (gps 45.332209, 2.910709), it can’t miss.
From the parking you are a few steps away from several viewpoint at the top of Cascade du Saillant. Best views are when walking down to the base of the waterfall. It only takes a few minutes and the walk is easy.
From the base you see how the river Bonjon drops down with a great force over approximately 30 meters (I forgot to note what I had measured but I think it was 27 meters). I visited cascade du Saillant the end of April 2023 and the the waterflow was quite respectable. As far I can see, when examining pictures, the waterflow is quite consistent, also in summertime!
It is also possible to get behind the waterfall, not an official walk/trail but a nice thing to do: be careful.
When walking back to the top you also can cross the river and from there see Cascade du Saillant from another angle. This isn’t an official viewpoint and you have to climb over a fence with barbed wire.
I think this a perfect destination for people (with children) who are staying in the Auvergne and want to do something else than hiking. Children always love water and want to play at the river. That is possible at the base of the waterfall.
The creation of Cascade du Saillant can be traced back millions of years to the formation of the Massif Central, a mountain range that covers much of central France. The Massif Central was formed during the Variscan orogeny, a period of intense tectonic activity that occurred around 350 million years ago.
During this time, the African and European tectonic plates collided, causing the land to be pushed up and creating the complex geological structures that we see today. The Massif Central is made up of a series of mountains, plateaus, and deep river valleys, all of which were formed through the movement of the earth’s crust.
Over time, the rivers and streams that flowed through the Massif Central began to carve their way through the rock formations, creating deep gorges and canyons. The Dordogne River, which runs through the Limousin region, was no exception. As it flowed through the region, it gradually carved out a deep valley, creating a series of waterfalls and cascades, including Cascade du Saillant.
The name Saillant comes from the French word “saillie,” which means “protrusion” or “projection.” This is a reference to the natural rock formations that make up the waterfall. Over time, the river water has eroded the softer rock, leaving behind harder, more resistant rock formations. These projections create the unique shapes and patterns that we see in Cascade du Saillant.