Day 1 from the Drome Provencal
Posted by William Armstrong 23 Oct 2012
I was out again in August creating a new Independent Walking Holiday in the Drôme Provencal in France. A lot of the hard work begins at home, mapping out routes, finding potential accommodation and getting the length and variety of walks just right and evaluating the grade of the walks. Of course this is all done in theory and then it all needs checking and recording, in otherwords, walked!
Now, this IS the part I enjoy most; the walking and exploring beautiful areas of France to offer to our customers, but it does not always go to plan. Sometimes the walks or footpaths are not as good as they seem on paper, so I need to look at alternatives and I do like to give the customers both variety as well as something to remember on each day of their holiday.
Why the Drôme Provencal? Apart from the weather and amazing food and wine, the area is rich in history, with castles and villages perched on hill tops and stunning scenery of valleys of lavender fields and sunflowers. The region has the vines of the Cote du Rhone and the olive groves of Nyons in the Baronnies. This is an area of quiet picturesque hills nestled between the Vercors to the north and the Provence to the south, providing superb views of the surrounding mountains.
The Drôme walks worked out very well and were extremely enjoyable. The first walk starts in Crest in the Drôme Valley, an ideal starting point with good rail links. It is a small town, but has the highest dungeon tower in France.
From there I walked through woodland and undulating farmland to the pretty village of Saou at the spectacular and narrow entrance to the Saou Valley, an enclosed wooded gorge overlooked by towering limestone cliffs. The village of Saou is a stunning hamlet and the forest, La Foret de Saou, is rich with wildlife and Mediteranean forna. Saou has its own brewery, the Markus Biere; a microbrewery with its own beer garden and offers tours and tastings.
Amazingly, for such a tiny hamlet, Saou hosts 2 festivals during the summer. 12 local villages join together to create France's only festival devoted to the Austrian composer, Mozart, 'Saou Chante Mozart' and they also hold 'Fete de Picodon', Picodon being the local goat's cheese, a weekend with performances by local artists, arts and crafts, market stalls and concerts.
I must continue to write up my walking notes. I am very pleased with what will be a new addition to our Independent Walking Holidays.
I will tell you more soon.