Walking Holidays in the Ardeche
On the Massif Central above the broad valley of the Rhone lies a walker’s paradise of hills where the Ardeche, Loire and Haute Loire regions meet. This is a watershed for some of France’s great rivers, a land of steeply terraced slopes, half-hidden valleys and tumbling streams. This is a place for the walking connoisseur; thankfully absent from many a guidebook. Massive ruined farm-houses seem embedded into the landscape and the bleat of goats and call of a wild bird are often the only sounds you will hear.
Sherpa Expeditions offers two self-guided walking holidays in the Ardeche that have different durations, but follow a similar route. Each holiday starts with views across the Doux Valley from Le Crestet. You will then take a pleasantly shaded path, running partly through orchards, to the market town of Lamastre, set amongst rugged hills covered with ancient chestnut trees of enormous girth. Turning north the route climbs to the old spa-town of Lalouvesc, perched at 1100m above the Rhone valley, with views, on a clear day, to the east as far as the snow-covered peaks of the Alps. Skirting the Haut-Vivarais, looking down on tiny red-roofed hamlets clinging to steep grassy slopes, continue to the little picturesque village of St. Bonnet le Froid.
Through fields yellow with wild daffodils in late Spring, head south skirting the Lac de Devesset (good for a possible dip on a warm day) to St Agreve and a friendly Auberge in a tiny square. Set against the backdrop of Mt. Mezenc, and Mt. Gerbier de Jonc, the source of the mighty River Loire, this small market town is where we schedule a rest day although local circular routes are possible.
The 10-night circuit now goes South past the ruined Chateau de Rochebonne overlooking the River Eyrieux, to the town of St. Martin de Valamas situated in a narrow valley; then back to St. Agreve next day by a different path along a well-graded former railway line. Both itineraries then head west along an ancient mule road, the ‘Voie des Marchands’, with breathtaking views of the meticulously terraced slopes of the Haut Vivarais to the North, on the way back to Lamastre.
Our WALKING Holidays in THE ARDECHE