The Gorges de l’Ardèche is one of the tourist attractions of the region, but the Ardèche has much more to offer.
Go out and take the time to discover the mountains and valleys, the rivers and the picturesque villages.
The “Ardèche” is located in the south of France, near the towns of Valence and Montélimar. Previously, the Ardèche was called the “Vivarais”. This name comes from the former capital “Viviers” (definitely worth a visit). The name Vivarais is still used.
The region has varied landscapes (a difference in altitude of 1750 more between the mountains and the Rhone Valley) and five different climates. In February the almond tree flowers in the south, while in the mountains there is still plenty of snow.
In the south there are limestone plateaus (garrigues) with green oak, lavender and olive trees, caves and the rivers laBeaume, le Chassezac and the Ardèche.
In the far north a hilly green landscape with many meadows, sheep and cows and the famous Rhône wines such as St. Joseph and Côte Rotie.
Slightly lower lie the narrow valleys with the clear rivers with trout and the orchards full of chestnut trees that hang in October from the tame chestnuts that are very famous for their delicious taste and good quality. One of our walks is specially aimed at the “chataignes” the sweet chestnut; a history in itself that many local traditions and dishes are based on.
Only 15,000 years ago volcanoes erupted and the lava flowed down through the riverbeds. Everywhere along the rivers you can still see the beautiful basalt walls and prisms that were formed during this period. For example, at the Ray Pic waterfall you can see this very well, but also along the river la Bourges and la Volane. You can take a walk around the volcano of Aizac, here you will find red puzzolan (pumice) everywhere. Near the village of Antraigues you can visit the castle of Crau, built on the volcanic mountain of 7 million years old and now in renovation ..
The tourist town of Vals-les-Bains has been a spa for more than 100 years and the mineral water of Vals is known for its medicinal properties in diabetes, among other things. In Vals les Bains you can also practice thermal treatments, and the whole new part is specially designed for mud baths, water massages and beauty treatments. In the valley of the Volane, which enters the Ardeche river from the mountains, there are many springs with mineral water. In Vals-les-Bains alone there are 150 sources. Also take a look at the park of Vals, beautiful trees and the fountain ‘intermittent’ that every 6 hours spits a spray of water from the deepest of earth.
And do not forget the numerous authentic villages right on the river or on the mountainside. All worth a visit. The best known are Balazuc, Vogué, Antraigues.