The Ardèche department number 07 is located in the region of Rhône-Alpes and has an estimated population of 286,023 (approximate in 1999). Situated south east of the centre of France, the department is named after the river Ardèche, the Rhône also runs through it.
Ardeche borders the Languedoc, Provence and the Auvergne. The south has a weather pattern similar to Provence.
Privas is the capital of the Ardèche and other large towns are Tournon-sur-Rhône, Largentière and Aubenas
Properties in Ardeche
Why you should visit Ardèche for your next holiday in France
The Ardèche is in effect split into five definitive geographical regions. The northern area is known as the Green Ardèche and tends to be laid back generating a relaxing atmosphere. The western area is known as the Ardèche Plateau - the climate tends to be moderate and it also has a laid back feel to it, great to those who enjoy forests and mountains. In the east is the Pays de Privas which is very cultural and is a centre of a gastronomes delight. In the centre is the Aubenas with many lovely traditional villages to visit. And finally there is the south Ardèche which tends to be the area that attracts the most tourists due to being close to Provence and the hot, dry climate.
The impressive Gorges de l'Ardèche are part of a nature reserve. With the dramatic landscape, the caves and potholes they attract tourists many varied types of activities on offer, including water sports like canoeing. Alternatively walkers and ramblers can follow numerous trails.
What to see in Ardèche
Privas is the capital of the Ardèche department. It was originally a protestant stronghold and was virtually destroyed during the religious wars. Although it has been rebuilt, there are a number of old houses which survived the original destruction.
A good place to spend a few hours when you first arrive Privas is the Musée de la Terre Ardèchoise, which offers the chance to find out about the towns history and the siege of the town in 1629. The museum also provides the opportunity to learn about the other attractions of the Ardeche such as its prehistoric monuments. The scenery is stunning and there are many preserved sites from the last 30 million years in the area.
Privas is the epicentre of the marron glacé (candied chestnut) business.
Largentière is located in the valley of the river Ligne, where the valley is quite narrow. It is approximately 10km south west of Aubenas. The name Largentière was changed from Ségualières in the 13th century and refers to "argentaria" the silver bearing black lead mines in that area .
The diverse countryside offers many sporting activities or the unspoilt, natural setting lends itself perfectly to relaxation. With a remarkable climate throughout the year, and a moderate winter enables full appreciation of the area. History abounds in this area for a rich medieval heritage to be discovered.
The Castle built into a rock overlooking the town and the river is the main attraction. The castle foundations date back to the 10th Century and it has a section built in the Renaissance which now houses the town museum. It is a cultural town and the gateway to the mountains.
Other sights in Tournon sur Rhône include the Collegiate Church of Saint-Julien and the Lycée Gabriel-Fauré, a school that was founded in 1536 by the Cardinal of Tournon and which claims to be the oldest lycée in France.
As the surrounding countryside is mountainous and rugged, is on the edge of a regional natural park and in the area of the Ardèche river canyon, it attracts people from the towns and is a popular area for vacation homes. Aubanas is on the banks of the river Ardèche and is part of the 'Pays d'Aubenas-Vals'.
The surrounding area offers plenty to do and see including the Ardèche river Gorges, the Ardèche Mountains, Mont Gerbier de Jonc where the river Loire starts and the high plateaux of the Cévennes. Aubenas is perched on a rocky outcrop above the river. The climate is mediterranean but slightly cooler and less windy.
With a sports centre and various swimming pools there are many activities in the area from paintballing to bungee jumping and canoeing to rock climbing. Or relax and soak up the atmosphere.
How to get to Ardèche
Flights from the UK arrive in Grenoble, St Etienne, Lyon and Nîmes. Valence has an airport but does not receive direct flights from the UK.
The E15 and E713 serve the area.
The TGV train services Nimes, Grenoble, Valence and Aix-en-Provence.