Fill your lungs with fresh mountain air, set your heart racing on wild rivers, step back in time and then step further, work your way through the menu, take in a view and another and another, catch the sounds of Debussy floating across the evening air, uncork a bottle of wine and relax.
Ardèche and Auvergne
Ardèche and Auvergne at a Glance
If you like your outdoors BIG, then this is the place for you. There are mountains, rivers, gorges, caves – even volcanoes – and they are all pretty spectacular. Swim it, climb it, jump into it - or do all those things at once and canyon it. Even the manmade stuff is beyond expectations; perfect Roman buildings, exquisite walled medieval towns, ornate carved buildings, ramparts, bridges, abandoned ancient castles – and a cheese-making museum.
And if that’s not enough for you – it’s also the gastronomic centre of France. So come on over and fill your boots!
Head for Lyon for the best in French cuisine - there are more than 1300 restaurants to try. You’ll find plenty of traditional fare in the rural towns and villages. There’s plenty of locally reared meat with hotpots, tender joints, sweet bread and plenty of regional cheeses including the world-famous Roquefort. If you have a sweet tooth, leave some space for marrons glacés (candied chestnuts) and, of course montelimar from the town of the same name.
From the mountains and volcanoes above to the gorges and caverns below, there is plenty for nature lovers to explore in this region. The beauty of the area has attracted settlers since pre-historic times, through the Roman and Medieval ages right up to modern times. They‘ve all left their mark with cave paintings and amphitheatres, and exquisite buildings, villages and towns.
More than 2000 years old, this is the most complete Roman amphitheatre in the world and so it’s a great place to let your imagination wander back to the times of chariot races and gladiators contests (is it thumbs up or thumbs down?).
These caves stretch for over 500m and the incredible formations seem to glow in the dark. Back on the surface you can visit the City of Prehistory to find out more about this strange, illuminated world.
The most fun way to experience the gorges and admire the scenery is white water rafting – if you can bear to look up! You can also opt for a gentler trip in a canoe. There are lots of hidden castles to explore on your way down river.
60 metres high and 50 metres wide, this incredible natural bridge was carved out of the rock by the Ardèche River. The best way to admire it is to paddle through on your canoe or kayak.
This Roman aqueduct was made a UNESCO World Heritage site in tribute to the skills of our ancestors. It’s more than 50m high and built on three levels – the longest stretching for 275m. An absolute must-see of your holiday.