On both sides of the Rhône, the Drôme and the Ardèche form a vast territory in the south of the Auvergne-Rhône-Alpes region. Fields of lavender, vineyards, and olive groves make this southern French land a colourful destination full of flavours. The Nyons olives, Montélimar nougat, Ardèche chestnuts, Picodon cheese or black truffles, without forgetting the great wines of the Côtes du Rhône such as Crozes Hermitage or Saint-Joseph, are all reasons to discover the destination. At each gourmet stage, distilleries, workshops, mills, or cellars give everyone the secrets and history of know-how and traditions. Along the routes, the best restaurants also guarantee great gastronomic experiences.
There are many other treasures to be found in the area. Three famous castles: Château de Grignan, Château de Suze-la-Rousse or Château de la Garde-Adhémar, as well as remarkable villages. But also the Grotte Chauvet 2, an exclusive prehistoric site, the grandiose landscape of the gorges of the Ardèche. Without forgetting the regional natural parks and the preserved areas!
Exceptional villages of Drôme and Ardèche
The most beautiful villages of the Drôme and the Ardèche can be discovered on both sides of the Rhône. These old villages enjoy an exceptional location, nestled in the valleys, hillsides, or perched on their rocky outcrops.
The "Most Beautiful Villages of France" or "French Villages of Character", each has its own particularities and history. The village of Grignan and its castle evoke the memories of Madame de Sévigné, while the village of La Garde-Adhémar displays a remarkable Romanesque heritage. If the former commandery of the Hospitaller order Poët-Laval takes visitors back to the time of the Crusades, the village of Alba-la-Romaine takes them back to antiquity. Others still seduce by their environment, such as the village of Voguë and its breathtaking panoramas of the Ardèche.
Everywhere the love of old stones and the respect of traditions preserve the art of living. There are many villages as well as many routes.
Three Medium-Sized Mountain Nature Parks
The identity of the Vercors Regional Nature Park, a transition between the Northern Alps and Provence, is based on the spectacular character of its landscapes, deep gorges, and forests. The Monts d’Ardèche Regional Nature Park, a UNESCO World Geopark, is recognised for its geological wealth, shaping its landforms and heritage. As for the Baronnies Provençales Regional Nature Park, more southern, it already announces the French garrigues (plant), the scents of thyme, and lavender…
All these protected environments inspire responsible tourism and provide an environment conducive to the practice of all outdoor activities, with an inexhaustible network of hiking trails.
Lavender, a multisensory discovery
The lavender and its beautiful colourful landscapes have built an emblematic image of the Drôme Provençale. To discover all the tones and the fragrance, you have to come in June, July, or August; the optimal period differs depending on the altitude.
But if the flowering period remains ephemeral, all year round lavender tells its story, perfumes, cares, and delights… In Drôme Provençale and Ardèche, fine lavender, aspic lavender, or lavandin are grown, distilled, processed, exploited by many producers and artisans.
The distillery "Bleu Provence" in Nyons, the "Domaine l'Essentiel de Lavande" and its range of organic products or the "Maison de la Lavande" and the collections of the Domaine Lavandaïs, provide lighting in all areas. It is from natural history to cosmetics and gastronomy through the traditional industry.
The Gorges of the Ardèche
A 22 km long canyon dug by the waters, vertiginous walls, dense vegetation, Mediterranean species, the gorges of the Ardèche are above all the grandiose spectacle of nature. The National Nature Reserve classification confirms the heritage interest of this exceptional environment.
From the natural arch of Vallon Pont-d'Arc to Saint-Martin d'Ardèche, viewpoints, creeks, caves, and horizons follow one another along the meanders of the Ardèche River.
A vast sensational park dedicated to the discovery, relaxation, and outdoor leisure activities; a place for swimming and walking which can be explored by canoe, boat, car, or feet.
The Grotte Chauvet 2
Near the arc bridge Vallon-Pont-d'Arc in Ardèche, the Grotte Chauvet 2 is an identical replica of the cave discovered in 1994 by Jean-Marie Chauvet. It allows sharing the wealth of a major prehistoric site, elected UNESCO’s world heritage, while ensuring its preservation.
A perfect reconstruction invites you to travel back in time to the very distant land of the Aurignacians. The parietal paintings appear between shadows and lights, revealing a fabulous bestiary. The route marked out by 10 observation stations is completed by many activities. A perfect immersion for a return to the gates of humanity.
Anne-Sophie Pic, the Feminine Culinary Art
Heir to a generation of chefs, Anne-Sophie Pic, is today the only chef rewarded with 3 stars (the 2nd in the history of the Michelin guide). Her own style has made it an important figure of international gastronomy. She embodies a daring cuisine, built on the right balance of aromas and tastes, a cuisine in its time and close to the local products (terroirs).
In Valence, her hometown, her name is at the head of an empire: a hotel, a restaurant, a bistro, a grocery store, and even a food truck and a school! A privilege for the capital of the Drôme. The Drôme is a pioneering department for organic farming in France. It is renowned for the diversity and quality of its products, which inspires the cuisine of the greatest and most famous chefs…
The ValRhona Chocolate City (Cité du Chocolat ValRhona)
Next to the workshops of the famous chocolate factory ValRhona, the Cité du Chocolat in Tain-l’Hermitage is a unique site designed for all audiences. More than a simple visit, this gourmet stopover is a real immersion that appeals to all the senses.
Between exotic travel, gastronomic exploration, and playful discovery, this perfectly landscaped space offers an educational and interactive route, workshops and activities, a 100% chocolate restaurant, and a shop to stock up on delicacies.
The University of Wine in Suze-la-Rousse
In the south of the Drôme, perched on a rocky outcrop, the castle of Suze-la-Rousse combines medieval austerity and Renaissance style.This beautiful building is a perfect link between the history of heritage and its surroundings. In addition to a museum tour, the Château de Suze la Rousse houses the University of Wine.
This internationally renowned educational structure is dedicated to the wine and vine professions. Many thematic courses, organised during the weekends or summer, open the doors of this high place of oenology to amateurs.
An original and exciting experience to approach the world of wine and Rhône wine region: Côtes du Rhône.
Cycle routes and greenways, the Drôme and Ardèche gently
The cycle routes and greenways that criss-cross the region allow you to explore the countryside away from the main roads.
Part of the European EuroVelo 17 framework, the ViaRhôna cycle route is an opportunity for a peaceful itinerary along the river through the Côtes du Rhône vineyards. The Dolce Via, this other "soft road", crosses the Ardèche for 90 km from La Voulte to Saint-Agrève or Lamastre.
These leisure routes include safe and well-maintained trails, loops, a choice of stops, and tours. Everything to invent free travel, by bike, but also on foot or on horseback.
The Crest Tower (Tour de Crest), an Architectural Masterpiece
Listed as the highest keep in France, the Crest Tower dominates the Drôme valley from its 52 m height offering an exceptional panorama.
A spectacular example of medieval defensive architecture, the Tower served as a national prison. This fabulous "Southern Bastille" operated until 1851.
A brilliant staging plunges visitors into 900 years of history. Scenography, headphones, models, and orientation tables make this stage a stunning discovery.
Pottery and Ceramics, between traditional crafts and contemporary art
The "Pays de Dieulefit", recognised as an important centre of creation since the Gallo-Roman era, remains today a major artistic centre that is worth a visit. In addition to the "Maison de la Céramique", a museum space dedicated to the history of local activity, some forty workshops are grouped here.
Everywhere potters and ceramicists are the guarantors of authentic and traditional know-how. Artisans and designers brilliantly produce original and contemporary pieces.
The Shoe Museum (Musée de la Chaussure), an exclusive heritage
The city of Romans-sur-Isère is the capital of luxury footwear. A traditional activity in the Middle Ages, leatherwork determined its development by encouraging the concentration of talented workers and factories. A reputation that is still in the spotlight today.
In the former convent of the Visitandines (Order of the Visitation of Holy Mary), the Shoe Museum looks at this atypical history on fashion and society. The incredible collection brings together thousands of objects, from the most classic to the most extravagant.
Designed as signage, the monumental reproduction of 8 emblematic pieces of the museum constitutes an original route in the city heart. A spectacular scenography that makes the link between heritage and commercial activity. The city of Romans owes its strong attractiveness to the numerous workshops and outlets located there, such as "Marques Avenue" or the "Cité de la Chaussure".
The Ardèche train
The Ardèche train line runs through the Doux valley from Tournon Saint-Jean to Lamastre. A steam locomotive pulls its wagons over 28 km, crossing viaducts, stone bridges, tunnels, and country stations through orchards, chestnut groves, and wooded hillsides. A picturesque setting like a life-size collectable toy!
The Ardèche train is a way to take the time to reach inaccessible landscapes or charming sites like the village of Boucieu le Roi, labelled "French Village of Character".
Contemplative or thematic, the various excursions cultivate the nostalgia of the trips of yesteryear, the pleasures of discovering the Ardèche differently.
The Aven d’Orgnac cave, 100 million years ago…
Classified as a Grand Site of France, the Aven d’Orgnac is a natural wonder. Here, everything is grandiose and gigantic!
Carved into the rock, the big underground chambers contain astonishing stalagmites. A secure trail with observation lookouts guarantees the best conditions for this exploration, leading visitors up to 121 m underground.
To enrich the experience, a 12-minute movie creates a 360° immersion in a virtual world to discover life in the Neolithic. A perfect introduction to the City of Prehistory (Cité de la Préhistoire), where the visit continues
The Peaugres Safari
The Peaugres safari is not a zoo-like any other. It offers this unique opportunity to venture out into the field to meet wild animals from Africa or America. By car or bus, exploration takes visitors through vast spaces where giraffes, zebras, elephants, or bison roam freely. It is the only park in Europe where black bears move freely in the middle of 13 ha of forest.
The walking tour offers the pleasures of a classical visit: added playgrounds, discoveries, and educational learning.