Though the River is the lifeblood running through the Ardeche, the region has a lot more to it. It is home to 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.
The Ardeche is also a fantastic gastronomic region, famous for its exportation of both wine and chestnuts. 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.
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, it's beauty amplified by it's relative lack of tourists. 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.
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. For those wishing to go further afield, Montelimar is a further half an hour away, and in the other direction, we have Ales, Avignon and Nimes - all with easy routes and fascinating architecture.
Dear Phil & Mike, Safely home & reflecting on a great holiday. We all enjoyed it enormously and had a real sense of achievement. The gite was just perfect. lots of space and a fantastic view from the terrace to enjoy with a glass or two of wine! Best...Gillie