The Ardèche is located where Provence begins, in the south-east of France, along the river Rhône, a natural border stretching for 135km, between Lyon and Avignon.
Words are not enough to describe Ardèche, you have to experience it, by canoe or kayak, bike or via ferrata, by exploring some of the charming medieval villages perched on the mountainsides or by taking a detour to some of the fortresses that guard over the Rhône Valley and its prestigious wines.
Here are 5 reasons why you should absolutely explore the Ardèche for your next holidays:
- The Ardèche Gorges
A deep, breathtaking “defile”, with unexpected, impressive viewpoints, unspoilt, peaceful scenery…, the Ardèche Gorges are known far and wide, thanks to the Pont d’Arc! This series of sinuous canyons is a superb natural, open-air museum and a paradise for those who love canoeing.
- Lavender Museum – The Saint-Remèze Distillery
Near the Gorges of the Ardèche, in the heart of lavender fields, enter a magical world of scents and colours. There are approximately twenty varieties, three of which are predominant in Southern Ardèche: lavandin, broad-leaved lavender and fine lavender. Lavender evokes childhood memories of our grandmothers’ wardrobes or holidays in the sun. In the distillery, you will learn everything about the extraction of essential oil and how it becomes perfume.
Musée de la Lavande – 07700 Saint-Remèze
Tel: +33 (0)4 75 04 37 26
- Villages with Character
Clinging bravely to the mountainside or hidden in valley bottoms, these villages glow gold in the southern sun. Tiny streets between ancient houses, stone slab roofs that blend perfectly with the wild hills, flowercovered balconies and the crystal clear waters of the mountain torrents are the charm of Ardèche villlages as: Ailhon, Alba-la-Romaine, Antraigues, Balazuc, Banne, Beauchastel, Boucieu-le-Roi, Chalencon, Chassiers, Désaignes, Jaujac, Labeaume, Meyras, Naves, Rochemaure, St-Montan, St-Vincent-de-Barrès, Thueyts, Vinezac and Vogüé.
- Moonlit evenings on the Ardèche river
A canoe trip down the Ardèche is a must-do, at any time of the day, but there is something magical about a canoe trip by moonlight. Prepare for atmosphere overload when you set off on the 6km journey, gliding past silhouettes of rock formations, listening to noises of the night, and enjoying a unique journey over the small rapids. Beavers are busy building dams along the banks, but everything is calm in the canoe. The experience lasts four hours but the memories will last forever.
Canoyak, 07150 Vallon Pont d’Arc
Tel: +33 (0)4 26 62 26 44
Mobile: +33 (0)6 03 13 46 87
ITS UNESCO WORLD HERITAGE
- The Pont d’Arc Decorated Cave known as Grotte Chauvet, awarded World Heritage status by UNESCO
Dating back 36,000 years, the extraordinary cave paintings of the Grotte Chauvet are amongst the brightest jewels of humanity. This immense natural cathedral, untouched for millennia, was discovered on December 18th 1994 in Ardèche at Vallon Pont d’Arc.
- The UNESCO labeled Ardèche Mountains recognised by UNESCO
The Monts d’Ardèche Park is proud to be one of special places awarded UNESCO’s Geopark label. There are three main criteria for inclusion – the preservation of geological riches; awareness of the environment and the landscape; and the development of sustainable local tourism with regard to the geology. With a landscape dating back 500 million years, the Monts d’Ardèche ticks all the boxes.
ITS CYCLING ROUTES
It’s hard to imagine a more rewarding place to cycle than Ardèche where quiet roads wind through vineyards and lavender fields beneath oak and chestnut trees. Every bend in the road offers new temptations to explore, far from busy towns and traffic. Discover ancient villages, shady forest trails, and imposing castles along some 400km of trails where bikes have priority.
Whether you’re after a gentle family circuit or a challenging route for enthusiasts. Explore its network of small lanes and dedicated cycle tracks. Looking for something more challenging: head into the mountains or sign up for a cycle event. Breath-taking landscapes, narrow country roads leading to wonderful mountain passes, unending volcanic panoramas, valleys with gently flowing rivers or gushing torrents and outstanding fragrant plants are many treasures Ardèche has to offer.
- The Dolce Via – take life gently on two wheels
You don’t need to be hugely sporty to tackle the Dolce Via. With a gradient of just 1%, this former railway track in the Eyrieux valley has been given a new lease of life as a trail for walkers, cyclists and mountain bikes stretching for 75 km. The route currently links Saint-Laurent-du-Pape to St-Martin de Valamas and Les Nonières but will eventually join the ViaRhôna at La Voulte and on towards St-Agrève and Lamastre to create a 93-km trail. Travel with friends, family or as a couple to explore the Eyrieux valley and enjoy picture-postcard landscapes and fresh, country air. Along the way are opportunities to have lunch on a restaurant terrace, relax at a shady café or picnic in the rocks. You can even hire a canoe at Eyrieux Sports or fancy rock climbing above the river at Aquarock!
Camping in Ardèche is a tradition, even a religion for a few. People came to Ardèche more than forty years ago to canoe in the gorges and to camp. They came back year after year. Today, their children come back to Ardèche with a different state of mind regarding comfort. They still camp but with all the quality, comfort and services. Thus five-star camping sites were born: beautiful establishments with swimming pools, aquatic games, sauna, spa, fitness rooms and gastronomic restaurant.
- Huttopia Sud Ardèche – camping in unspoilt countryside
On the outskirts of Vallon Pont d’Arc in southern Ardèche, camping has been given a new look at Huttopia where environmentally cabins, tents and gypsy caravans have been sited on terraces once roamed by ancient Man. Enjoy the peace of this protected natural area, relax by the two pools and enjoy the tranquillity of the natural surroundings.
Huttopia Sud Ardèche,
Tel: +33 (0)4 75 38 77 27
Ardèche, a gastronomic land? No doubt! Renowned for the quality of its products from the terroir, this region boasts gastronomic tables and chefs of excellence.
- Richard Rocle, chef at the Auberge de Montfleury in Saint-Germain (1 Michelin star in 2019)
Here, between the hills of the Coiron massif and the vineyards of Southern Ardèche, Richard Rocle loves to share his passion for locally-sourced food and to challenge his guests by using familiar products in unfamiliar ways.
Inspired by the Ardèche lands and heritage, the chef founds its best seasonal products within the region. His audacious, surprising, inventive cuisine is always seeking for new flavours and new combinations.
Richard and Angèle Rocle Auberge de Montfleury,
Quartier de la Gare,
07070 St Germain
Tel: + 33 (0)4 75 94 74 13