France: History and the outdoors in Ardèche - The360 Travel

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  • Sunday, December 15, 2019

    France: History and the outdoors in Ardèche

    France: History and the outdoors in Ardèche

    During the summer holidays, the Ardèche is stormed by tourists. This region with striking decor is located on the right bank of the Rhone. While autumn is setting in the south of France, it's the perfect time to discover this place that makes you dream... since prehistory.


    Kayaking under the Arc Bridge

    The Ardèche is a region, but it is also a river that crosses splendid limestone gorges. This river is both wild, inhabited by rare beavers of the Hexagon, but also very touristy. The natural arch, which imposes itself at the entrance of the gorges, attracts the crowds. This 500,000 year old rock bridge is unique because it connects the two shores. The best way to capture all its beauty is on the water. To do this, many companies offer downhill river trips and kayak rentals. The French will tell you: the place becomes a real highway during the holidays. But the ride is worth it. To avoid congestion, we prefer an early morning departure, especially for the easy two-hour trip. Good to know: Children under 7 must be accompanied on the river by an authorized guide. The kayak season ends at the end of October, but the Arc Bridge can also be seen from a road in the cliff.

    The treasure of Chauvet cave

    Throughout Ardeche, there is evidence that the region has been inhabited for thousands of years. We can see prehistoric shelters, dolmens, but above all, we can admire a reproduction of paintings dating back at least 30,000 years. These are the oldest discoveries to date. The works of great beauty and complexity are mostly animals, many of which have now disappeared from Europe. The paintings were discovered in 1994 in a cave near the Pont d'Arc. From then on, the place was closed to the public in order to protect it. "The speleologists immediately understood the richness of the places," summarizes the guide Emmanuel Saint-Bonnet, Grotte Chauvet. The French authorities have built a life-size reproduction a few kilometers from the original site. The visit takes place for one hour with a guide. There are also several exhibitions on prehistory on the site.

    The incredible story of Orgnac

    It is not only the landscapes of the Ardèche that are breathtaking. His basement too. When the sea was removed millions of years ago, the water formed numerous underground galleries in the limestone. Many of these chasms are open to the public. The best known is the Aven d'Orgnac. After descending 700 steps, you come to a huge room filled with stalagmites, stalactites and stone draperies. The visit is full of the view. Rare fact: there are helictites, horizontal formations that take several centuries to build defying gravity.

    Discover the wines of Ardèche

    Unsurprisingly, as elsewhere in France, the vine is part of the Ardèche landscape. The wines of the region are still little known, because the vineyards have been slow to recover from the phylloxera crisis. They are nevertheless more and more cited by the experts for their good value for money. Winegrowers have undertaken to revalue this terroir. In their varied soil, composed of basalt, sandstone, pebbles and limestone, they cultivate several grape varieties, including gamay and syrah. They even have a new local variety: the chatus. This red grape gives a colorful wine that is reminiscent of Malbec by the robustness of its tannins. The cooperative winery has created a discovery center called Neovinum in Ruoms. The place is ideal to learn more about wine and to taste different wines.

    Walks on two wheels

    To get some fresh air, the Ardèche can be visited by bike. Several railway lines have been converted into bicycle paths. Via Ardèche connects Vogüé and Grospierres. The course, 23 km long, is flat, but its decor is not boring. In Vogüé, one of the most beautiful villages in France, you cross the Ardèche on a majestic bridge. The view can admire the village and its castle whose dungeon dates back to the twelfth century. For the longest expeditions, the Dolce Via stretches for 90 km in the north-east of the region.

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