In 1994, a unique discovery shook the world and in particular prehistory enthusiasts - the discovery of the Grotte Chauvet-Pont d’Arc. Dating back more than 30,000 years, it contains thousands of engravings and paintings. It became a UNESCO World Heritage Site in 2014. In order to preserve the original caves, an identical, much acclaimed replica has been built, which has had a record number of visitors since it opened.
Don’t forget to stop off in the charming villages around the gorges : the medieval village of Balazuc which clings to the rockface and is classed as one of the ‘Loveliest Villages in France’, the village of Labeaume which nestles against ancient limestone cliffs and a little further away, Vogüé, built along a curve of the River Ardèche.
The Gorges de l’Ardèche is an adventure playground as far as sporting activities are concerned. The best-known and most popular sport is canoeing down the river, but it is by no means the only way to explore the area. There are plenty of footpaths, rock climbing routes, caving discovery trips and mountain biking tracks as well as more gentler pursuits like paddle boarding, guided boat trips and naturism.
The countryside is a haven for wildlife and nature lovers can observe beavers, otters, genets, Bonelli’s eagles, peregrine falcons, crag martins, snake eagles and Egyptian vultures. In addition, numerous reptiles and amphibians live in the gorges (salamanders, palmate newts, jewelled lizards, grass snakes…) as well as many species of fish.
« My favourite thing is to explore the river banks and mind-blowing canyon scenery either by canoe or on foot with friends. I also love Labeaume, its vertical gardens and having a drink with friends there by the river on fine days in early spring. » (Corinne, President of Gîtes de France, Ardèche).
The Gorges de l’Ardèche is 1 hour’s drive from Aubenas and 2 hours from Lyon, Marseille and Grenoble. It is 3½ hours by train from Paris."