The Final Ardèche Journey Information
Our recommendations for the main attractions in this Ardeche travel guide include hiking, views, Camping, canoeing and of course the famous Ardèche Gorge.
Oh, the beautiful Ardeche Region of France:
Its wild and rugged character and its climbing, winding roads lead the nature lover into the remote hinterland of the hilly, curving, cliff-spanning Gorges de l’Ardèche, where hiking, kayaking, Campsite Ardeche Field after field of purple lavender and a paleolithic cave welcome both the outdoor enthusiast and the ancient history lover. Add breathtaking views, pristine lakes, and a grueling bike race that passes majestic cathedrals Ardèche villages, classic castles and majestic mountains that make this nature reserve a must on any nature-loving vacation destination list. We hope that you will be “Ardèche Amazed” with this guide!
Jump ahead in the Ardèche
- A little bit about the Ardèche
- Best travel time for the Ardèche
- Connection to the Ardèche
- Activities in the Ardèche
- The lavender museum
- The Ardèche Gorge and the Pont d’Arc
- Tour de France
- Chauvet-Pont-d’Arc cave
- Where shall we eat
- Where to sleep
- Explore further afield
- 11.1 Validity
- 11.2 Vienna
- More resources for your stay in the Ardèche
Check in! A little bit about the Ardèche
When you’re out pretty much all day like we often do, sometimes you want a quick and easy recharge of your batteries, practically a vacation from our vacation. We couldn’t believe we had come across this vast undiscovered part of France that we had never experienced before. Known as the Grand Canyon of France, the picturesque, lush, green and wild department of the pristine Ardeche landscape in the Auvergne Rhône Alpes in central-southern France is a tapestry of ancient gray rocks, green hills and thick forests. Rich in history and tradition, this sparsely populated region is the perfect place to kick back and lose yourself in the simplest pleasures rural France can offer, namely hearty regional cuisine and untamed beauty.
Best travel time for the Ardèche
Winter, spring, summer or autumn, overall the climate of the Rhône-Alpes is “variable” in one word, but the Ardeche is a beautiful destination in every season. Cold, crisp winters with occasional snowfalls give way to a temperate spring climate in March and April. Summer starts early in the Ardeche, and you can expect to regularly apply sunscreen through May as temperatures rise with the lengthened summer days.
May and June are the best months in the Ardeche for those who ultimately want to enjoy nature. Sunny days are pretty much the norm, but the temperature stays just cool enough to be comfortable. Hikers, hikers, and cyclists will find miles of empty hiking trails for the French to enjoy, and the local summer crowds don’t arrive until the much hotter months of July and August. Midsummer brings the masses to the Ardèche and the Pont d’Arc. For the intrepid traveler willing to hike further, there is plenty of nature both along the river and among the vineyards, mountains and oak forests that make up so much of the natural landscape.
Connection to the Ardèche
You can just connect to that Ardeche and Rhône-Alpes in France, as Air Canada offers year-round flights between Trudeau Airport in Montreal and Lyon-Saint-Exupéry Airport. Canadians now have a direct link to France’s second largest metropolitan area. And with up to five flights a week with 37 international business class lounge suites and 228 economy class seats, there’s no reason not to visit this rugged, natural, lavender-scented destination! You can also fly to Grenoble or Marseille and travel north.
Most visitors approach this lush region from the Rhone Valley. If you are coming from the north and from Lyon Airport, leave the A7 motorway at exit 18, Montelimar South, and follow the N7 South to Pierrelatte. At Pierrelatte, turn west towards Bourg Saint Andéol. Welcome to the start of the Ardèche!
Paris – Marseille
The TGV takes you to Valence train station and is a convenient 2-hour journey from Paris, 4 hours from Brussels, 3 hours from Lille, 1 hour from Marseille, 34 minutes from Lyon and just 5 hours from London.
So many natural things to do in the Ardèche
The lavender museum
A Provencal sun greets you in the south and makes an early morning stop at the Musée de la Lavande. Perhaps take a private tour of these vast fields of purple and learn about the museum’s distillation process and the medicinal significance and uses of lavender. And of course, visit the museum’s shop for everything lavender.
- The wonderfully fragrant Musee de la Lavande
- All the lavender!
In the La Lavender Museum
The Ardèche Gorge and Pont d’Arc
With the smell of lavender, continue to the mountainous area of the Ardeche and discover the beautiful Ardeche Gorge, the green and white cliffs perfectly framed by a beautiful blue Provencal sky. And of course the famous and monumental Pont d’Arc. A rare geological curiosity, this imposing natural arch, was cut into the river valley by the rushing Ardèche river. The Pont d’Arc is located at the entrance to the Gorges de l’Ardèche and is 54 meters high, 60 meters wide and at least 500,000 years old. This beautiful nature reserve offers campers and outdoor enthusiasts 28 kilometers of the rushing river for kayaking, canoeing, camping, hiking, swimming, and climbing, as well as two beaches where you can relax and watch the world go by. And while the Ardèche Gorge is the main attraction here, there are plenty of other great stretches as well, including the Chassezac, Eyrieux, and Doux, in case you want a less touristy tour along the river. Connect with your local guide here:
The Via Adèche runs from Voques and GrosPierres and offers a safe 22-kilometer route for hikers, cyclists, runners and rollerbladers, as well as people with reduced mobility and spectacular views of the Sampzon rock, where the Ardèche and Chassezac rivers meet.
Tour de France
Tour de France enthusiasts want to make the Ardèche their home base during the famous race in July with individual time trials between Bourg Saint Andéol and the famous Chauvet-Pont-d’Arc cave. This difficult stage of the competition, around 37.5 kilometers with an altitude difference of 850 meters, is always hotly contested. Be ready for thrills, chills, and possibly a few spills!
Tour de France
Meet up with your history-loving friends as you visit the Chauvet Pont d’Arc Cave and display the best preserved and earliest known figurative cave paintings in the world, as well as other human and animal evidence of the early Upper Paleolithic. You cannot visit the original Chauvet-Pont d’Arc grotto. However, the Caverne du Pont d’Arc is a carefully crafted replica of the original cave and its 36,000 year old paintings. It is located near the town of Vallon-Pont-d’Arc on a limestone cliff high above the former basin of the Ardèche River in the Gorges de l’Ardèche. It was discovered on December 18, 1994 and is considered one of the most important prehistoric art sites. The UNESCO agency of the United Nations declared it a World Heritage Site on June 22, 2014. Take a sweater as you descend into the depths of this fascinating archaeological treasure.
Explore further afield
Valence is known as the city of the Romans with leather and shoemaking industries and is located between the foothills of the Vercors and the hills of the Ardèche. As the capital of the Drome department, a very young Napoleon joined the La Fère Artillery regiment stationed in Valence. Overlooking the Rhône and near vineyards producing Crozes-Hermitages, St. Joseph and St. Peray wines, this beautiful medieval town is an excellent stop for wine tours of the region. Often referred to as the ‘door to the south’, the city has unique and well-preserved medieval architecture, including the Maison des Têtes, built between 1528 and 1532, and the beautiful Saint-Apollinaire Cathedral, built between 1063 and 1099 and consecrated in 1095 from Pope Urban II. Make sure you hire a local greeter to fully appreciate the intricate and impressive medieval dialogue this city has to offer.
We loved a special tasting of wines from Cave de Tain by the dedicated and extremely knowledgeable sommelier Marie-Josée Faure from Terres de Syrah, a unique wine tourism group. We drank special bottles of Crozes-Hermitage Blanc and Cep Saint-Joseph while we discussed the history and terroir of this extraordinary wine region of the southern Rhône-Alpes.
Valence tip: treat yourself to the Maison Pic by renowned French chef Anne-Sophie Pic, which offers a 3-star restaurant, calming hotel rooms by designers like Bruno Borrione and culinary school experience. For a more relaxed dining experience, try Maison’s André and indulge in four generations of Pic family memories while cooking in a casual pub atmosphere!
Further south, discover the wine, food and hospitality of Vienne, perhaps best known for its Jazz à Vienne. At sunset you can sit on one of the sun-drenched old stones of Vienna’s Roman Theater and play jazz with international artists such as Diana Krall, Chick Korea, Seal and Tonya Baker. We enjoyed an animated wine tasting in the new cooking and tasting room of the Côte & Cuisine tourist office, which is dominated by the three-storey “Wall of Wine” and shows the incredible variety of wines produced in this Gallo-Roman region. Treat yourself to overnight luxury at the 4-star Hotel La Pyramid in the Relais & Châteaux and enjoy lunch or dinner in the hotel’s L’espace PH3, the 2 Michelin-starred restaurant with open kitchen by chef Patrick Henriroux. Contemporary interior in bright colors from Régis Dho impressed!
Extra resources to keep your Ardèche more pleasant.
Complete your entire Ardèche travel guide with these handy links that you might want to bookmark.
- Don’t forget travel insurance! We work with World nomads Because with the “Explorer” option you will find out how you can make a difference and make more responsible and sustainable travel choices.
- The website viamichelin.com confirms travel times and distances in the Ardèche, including tolls, fuel costs and suggested routes.
- Renting a car is easy. We rely on Eurocar for our rental needs. This gives you the flexibility to tour at your own pace and set your own itinerary.
The official Ardèche tourist attraction, Be Amazed, is an incredible tool to start your research. It is also an innovative tool that you can use during your stay. Consider buying an Ardèche Pass, plan your trip over 3 or 6 days, or all year round, and enjoy free access to all of the Ardèche’s cultural and recreational areas.