In the vicinity
The Ardèche, with it’s clean air and rambling nature, is a popular holiday destination. Besides the beauty of your immediate surroundings there awaits plenty to do within an hours circumference of the house, like hiking (GR Hiking Route ‘Tour du Tanargue’ starting next to the house), canoeing, horseriding and quad biking. The local markets in L’Argentiere, Aubenas and Joyeuse always make an interesting visit.
The Pont d’Arc, a large natural bridge carved out by the Ardèche River, is 60 m wide and 54 m high and is popular for kayaking and natural swimming pools. It is described as the natural entrance to the Ardèche Canyon. In the near vicinity of the arch is the Chauvet-Pont-d’Arc Cave, containing the earliest known paleolithic cave paintings, about 30,000 years old.
Visit Vans with it’s olive orchids, Joyeuse with it’s ancient streets, monumental L’Argentière, Ruoms near the gorge, busy Aubenas at the centre of the south Ardéche and Val les Bains with it’s spa’s. All can be reached within an hour’s drive from the house.
What about visiting Privas, capital of the Ardèche, Annonay with it’s hot air ballooning, Lamastre with it’s tourist train ‘Le Mastrou’ and shopping in Tournon.
Here some of the highlights:
10 km south east of Aubenas lies L’Argentière which thanks it’s name to the silver in it’s volcanic rock (argent = silver). The first silver mines evolved here and were worked until the 15th century. The Earls in Toulouse and the Bishops in Verviers profited admirably from the mining. The mines reopened from 1867 till 1880 but the new found sources were quickly depleted and it took till 1961 before anyone dared try again. These endeavours lasted till 1983 whereafter it was no longer cost effective.
These illustrious days produced reinforced city walls and tower, the Gothic Notre-Dame-des-Pommiers and the castle housing the Bishops in Viviers. The City Hall was built in the time of the Renaissance in the 17th Century. Embossed by the coin makers the accommodation of the Bishop’s dates back to the 13th Century. With it’s medieval streets and buildings and bustling restaurants and terraces, L’Argentiere is a bucketlist definite, with a weekly market on Tuesdays and evening market on Saturdays in the summer months July and August. Products sold are all locally produced and include vegetables, fruit, sausages and a speciality is chestnut honey.
Gorges de l’Ardèche
Between Vallon Pont d’Arc and Saint Martin d’Ardèche lies the imposing and pristine geological wonder the Gorges de l’Ardèche, a 35km long mountain pass classified in 1980 as a nature reserve. Over the last 110 million years the l’Ardèche river has carved caverns, caves, sinkholes and ravines out of the limestone rock. Examples are the Madeleine Basin and the Pontd’Arc, a magnificient arch of rock 66m high, best experienced meandering down the river in a canoe but also easly accessed by foot.
Near the town of Vans, in the heart of the Cevenolse Ardèche lies a 16km stretch of forest filled with petrified rock formations and white oak trees. Through years of erosion a series of mazes and massive holes have been created causing both mineral and plant to form distorted natural images.
The Ray-Pic Waterfall
Protected since 1931, this 60m high waterfall rises out of an area filled with basalt columns. The Ray-Pic Waterfall lies on the D215 between Burzet and Lachamp Raphaël. The Bourges river wells up in the 35,000 year old lava formations and then flows further down on the old lava trail.
The Mont Gerbier-de-Jonc lies atop the Ardèche plateau, a high accumulation of phonological rock peaking at 1551m. A brisk 30 min walk will take you to the top rewarding you with a truly magnificient panoramic view. The Loire river has it’s source in the Mont Gerbier-de-Jonc.
The Chauvet Cave
The Ardèche has over a hundred caves and sinkholes but the Chauvet Cave was only discovered in 1994 and contains the oldest cavern in the world, decorated with more than four hundred petroglyphs or rock paintings dating back 30.000 years.
The vineyards of the Ardèche
The vineyards in the south Ardèche offer en interesting assortment of wines with an appellation guarantee. Wine production is now the principle agricultural activity of the department.