Tour of Ardeche: Rustic Trails

walking grade moderate to challenging holiday France+

8 nights - From £1215/€1350 - 7 days walking between guest houses

With its wild, rugged mountains and picturesque historic villages clinging to terraced hillsides the Ardeche makes an ideal location for an independent walking holiday if you're looking to get away from the beaten track. This walking tour is located in the heart of the Ardeche Regional Park & includes wonderful heather-clad moutains with great panoramic views; pretty chestnut forests; beautiful rivers where it's possible to bathe and sun parched, vine covered slopes.

sancy tour walking holiday auvergne france

Ardeche in France is home to a multitude of landscapes, each one as picturesque and fascinating as the next. It has wild, rugged landscapes for those seeking outdoor adventure, as well as plenty to appeal to those in search of French cultural and architectural delights. Located at the eastern extremity of the Massif Central in France, the area passes from the Rhone Valley in the east, an important communication axe, to the remote Ardeche Mountains in the west. The area is influenced by different climatic regimes; as you travel south you can pass from lush high plateaux to sun parched terraced slopes with olive trees in a matter of minutes.

In the North West of the region you will find the Ardeche plateau, a remote region far from the beaten track, with an average altitude of 1100m. This upland crystalline plateau is punctuated by more recent volcanic activity forming a landscape of domes, known as Sucs, of which, Mont Mézenc at 1754m, is the highest. At this point you are on the border of Haute Loire and the Auvergne, which is the location of one of our away from it all independent walking holidays. Many volcanic features can be found all over Ardeche, with one of the most impressive being the perfectly circular Lake Issarles. 

A number of gorges and deep valleys have cut down through the Ardeche plateau creating secluded and wild areas with tumbling streams and dramatic waterfalls, making for a dramatic walking holiday. Typical picturesque villages with cobbled streets cling to the hillside or sit perched on rocky outcrops. The evidence of man’s activity is everywhere, with ancient agricultural terraces climbing steeply up the valley slopes. Many are now abandoned, along with a host of isolated hamlets. Dating back further, Ardeche has a number of roman churches, hundreds of megalithic sites and, not forgetting, the world famous caverns hosting numerous cave paintings and engravings dating back as far as 31,000 years.

For a taste of the wild, rugged nature of Ardeche, you shouldn’t look any further than the Tanargue. Secluded gorges, fine ridges and great panoramic views make for some great walking trails. Our independent walking holiday, explores this beautiful part of the Ardeche Regional Park as well as the lower valleys close to Aubenas where the tour starts and finishes. 

In the south east, the world famous Ardeche gorge is as impressive for its remarkable underground caverns, as it is for its impressive 25km gorge that cuts its way back and forth through the limestone plateau. Classified as a nature reserve, the area is a must see for all those visiting the Ardeche in central France.  

Ardeche recipes are flavoured with the natural plants which cover its slopes. Specialities of the region include chestnuts, whose trees cover much of the valleys in the area, and wild myrtille, which is a variety of sweet blueberry, and can be enjoyed fresh or used in a wide variety of delicious recipes. In addition there are a number of different goats’ cheeses, red wine, including the Cote du Rhone and Cote du Vivarais, and cold cured meats, including saucisson of the highest quality, famed for its flavour and for melting in the mouth.

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