We know that regular visitors to France love to discover new regions off the main tourist routes and our region of the month for October is a real gem. The Drôme (department number 26) is named for its river and located in the Rhône-Alpes, just north of Provence. In fact, the southern Drôme Provencal enjoys a Mediterranean micro climate and is abundant with olives, apricots, aromatic herbs and lavender fields stretching right to the foot of the mountains.
The northern Drôme gives access to the Ardeche gorges and the Alps and it’s not short of mountains itself. They provide breathtaking scenery with dramatic peaks and escarpments and timeless villages clinging to rocky slopes.
The Tour de France often includes a stage in the Drôme, so it’s little surprise that the area is popular with cyclists and has an excellent network of cycle tracks that take riders right into the unspoilt countryside. It’s also great territory for walking and touring by car.
I love the feel in this part of France that you’re close to the wild, apparently miles from anywhere with only soaring birds and the vast sky, yet knowing that there are also interesting towns and cities at an easy driving distance, to welcome and entertain you - and of course offering excellent food and drink.
And the Drôme is not short of events. There are concerts and festivals galore in all the major towns – and not only in the summer months. The 4th November, for instance, sees the Fête des fruits et légumes d'automne at Rémuzat. Mmm, just imagine the colours and earthy fragrances of a harvest festival in the ancient tradition.
In December is the Fête des Olives Piquées de Nyons, devoted to this area’s distinctive black olives, with tasting, oil pressing and cooking demonstrations. This year’s special competition is the creation of appetizers with black olives. Christmas markets are always a favourite and have a special flavour in southern France. The towns of Grignan, Visan and Rémuzat all offer enticing markets with all the seasonal food and decorations.
The Drôme may be less well known, but it’s not inaccessible. You can fly into airports at Nîmes, Lyons, Grenoble and Marseille and by TGV train it’s just over two hours from Paris.
Where to stay? Our self catering holiday properties in the area include lovely old stone houses and traditional chalets in mountain villages. La Ruchette, for instance, is a one bedroom apartment right in the heart of the gorgeous village of Buis les Baronnies, shown in our photograph, located between the Vaucluse and the Drôme Provençale. It can be booked by the night and B&B with table d’hôte is also available.
For more information and to see a range of properties to let, take a look at our guide to the Drôme.