Ardèche places of interest - the Ardèche is mainly known for it's world famous gorge, but it has a surprising store of other great places to visit. There's a selection of great Ardèche places of interest features below;
A wander around any of the local markets will offer you the opportunity to taste local delicacies, from wild boar pate (caillette) to the ripest of goats cheese. There are lots of local market days to choose from, so plenty of opportunity to soak up the aromas and ambiance, and fill your basket with fresh produce, cheeses, saussison and a perhaps a bottle or two of Ardeche wine! Or simply sit in the café watching the world go by.
Only a 5 minute drive away from the campsite is the ancient fortified town of Joyeuse. In the small streets of this historic town you can find restaurants, galleries and specialist shops and three very different museums. There is a large and lively market on Wednesday and an additional one on Sunday evening in the summer.
The Chassezac is another river running through the region and while it has not achieved the notoriety of the Ardeche. It is equally as stunning, its beauty amplified by its relative lack of tourists. Due to its system of dams it plays a crucial role in providing the Ardèche with sufficient water to make Canoeing a possibility, especially in the summer.
Beaches abound, from the busy, easy access river spots to the ones you see from the road and then scramble on down too, you could never run out of new places to swim and in that hot, Ardeche heat nothing feels quite as good as a refreshing dive into cool water.
The wood Paiolives lies in the South of the department of the Ardeche at the foot of the Cevennes. This amazing petrified forest of limestone mixed with various forms of white oaks. There are several free car parks, each with a map showing the trails, the distance and estimated time it would take to walk them (1.5, 4 or 5km). The trails themselves are easy to follow, you just look out for the coloured markers on the rocks.
There are several vineyards within a few miles of Lablachere. The vineyard Le Caveau de Jales is open all year round, Monday to Saturday 9 -12 noon & 3 – 6.30pm and open til noon on a Sunday. Founded in 2001, the Croisée de Jalès cellar sells a wide choice of local wines grown on the Coteaux de l'Ardèche.
For shoppers and city lovers, we are around a twenty minute drive from Aubenas, a beautiful, quaint little city that plays host to chateaus and brasseries that look as though they've been plucked from a Disney imagining of France. Every Saturday morning on the Place de Chateau, there is a local produce market, full of colours and flavours.
For those wishing to go further afield, Montelimar is about 40 minutes away. A quiet city with pedestrian streets, small squares the sainte- croix collegial and the Adhemar citadel. Well known for its delicious nougat and beautifully scented lavender fields.
The beginning of the Gorges is enhanced by the departments jewel: the famous Pont d’Arc, a natural arch more than 60 m high, listed as a “Grand Site de France”. During your 2 day descent you will pass through the fantastic, natural limestone arch which spans the Ardeche River. The river over the years has carved in the limestone rock a 30 km long canyon that shelters a rich wildlife and interesting flora.
Discovered in 1935, three marvellous chambers stretching over 30,000m2. In the year 2000 the cave system was listed as one of France’s greatest sites (Grand site de France). Besides the usual stalagmites and stalactites there are other phenomenon such as the “pine cone” and the “palm trees” and the organ pipes. The tour takes around an hour which includes a son & lumiere spectacle.
Grotte Chauvet, a cave famed for it's Upper Paeolithic paintings - the oldest human drawings on record. The cave has been named as one of the more significant prehistoric art sites ever discovered and was the subject of a Werner Herzog film, Cave of Forgotten Dreams, in 2010. While not open for public access, the Ardeche department has managed to raise a hefty €43mn to build a replica nearby and the multi-sensory experience, which is due to open in 2014, promises to replicate the smell, the silence and the look of the cave to perfection.
We really had a great time with just the right blend of risk and adventure for a young/inexperienced family. It was great to learn and experience something new together. We are reasonably gung-ho, but this was different from the standard ball sports as it was not competitive and it was...Tim, Marinella, Eleanor, Maddy and Nic