The Ardèche is one of the richest natural sites in Europe. It is a region of beautiful unspoilt scenery, rushing rivers, dramatic gorges, wonderful lakes and cultural traditions ranging from prehistoric times to the present day. The Southern Ardèche region is well-known for its Mediterranean climate, beautiful riverside beaches and canoe-kayaking. It is a favourite place for sporting holidays. Mountain biking, paragliding, climbing, potholing, canyoning or simply hiking are also popular.
Le Pont d'Arc is a graceful natural arch over the river Ardèche, in the heart of the Ardèche gorge. Little footpaths lead to its base where you will find spectacular scenic routes to explore over 26km of the gorge.
The modernised town of Vallon Pont d'Arc has plenty of bars and restaurants.
The beautifully positioned hilltop town of Largentière is worth a visit because of its lovely quaint local market.
There are also several wonderful caves to visit in the area including the Aven d'Orgnac grotto characterised by a big lava flow looking like an organ case and the Aven Grotte de la La Forestière, located on road D217 between Vallon Pont d'Arc and Orgnac,
where you can admire the Cave Animal Zoo, and beautiful coral-like stalactites and stalagmites emerging from pools of water.
Le Mont du Gerbier de Jonc not far from Privas rises to 1,550 metres in height and offers superb panoramic views. The Cascade de Ray-Pic is a natural waterfall located between Aubenas and Burzet.
Aveyron and Tarn
Aveyron is a magnificent region of breathtaking scenery with deep chasms in the valleys of the Tarn and Dourbie. Many people visit the area for the canoeing, rafting and hang-gliding. A canoe trip along the Tarn gorges is an unforgettable experience.
Millau is renowned as a shopping centre for leather goods, including gloves but is now equally famous for its fabulous viaduct, designed by British architect Norman Foster. It can be viewed from a visitor's centre just off the A75.
Drive along the valleys and see picturesque villages perched on the top of cliffs like Peyreleau, Cantobre and Saint-Véran.
In the centre of the Causse de Larzac, you will find La Couvertoirade, a fantastic Knights Templar town encased in a five-sided outer wall.
Montpellier-le-Vieux is a weird universe of amazing rock formations. Water and wind transformed the grey rocks of the Causse Noir into a wonderful city which has now become the shelter for delicate flora. You can walk on well signed footpaths or take the little green train that will lead you to the heart of this imposing site.
Aven Armand, an extraordinary cave of stalcamites and stalactites, 75m deep, discovered one Sunday afternoon in September 1897 by Louis Armand.
Roquefort, home of the famous blue-veined cheese made from ewes milk, offers a fascinating visit.
Monts d'Aubrac are in the north of the region and are the final volcanic rampart of the Massif Central region. This region is famous for its livestock breeding, and its lakes which are ideal for fishing, swimming and all kinds of watersports. The Lac de Pont de Salars and the Lac de Pareloup offer 15km of beaches and are the largest in southern France.
The towns of Décazeville, Entraygues, Espalion, Estaing and Saint-Geniez d'Olt are all worth a detour. Laguiole is well-known for both its knives and its cheese.