International bike race in Ardèche
The Ardéchoise is a headline event. This internationally renowned bike race has become a classic for amateurs of cycling tourism, confirming the reputation of the circuits involved. A great local reception and loyal participants, with more and more signing up each year, this event has established itself in the calendar as a tried and tested favourite among an expert and demanding public.
Breathtaking landscapes, narrow country roads leading to formidable montain passes, unending volcanic panoramas, valleys with rivers flowing gently or gushing torrents, outstanding fragrant flora – it is a land perfect for discovering by bike.
The Ardèche can be wild but its villages and hamlets are always hospitable – just around that last loop or bend, you'll be sure to find a bistrot terrace waiting, or a water fountain, or a village market in full flow and, of course, a warm welcome from the locals known for their conviviality.
Whether cycling for pleasure or as a serious sport, you will also discover that Ardèche is home to an array of sumptuous local produce that will greatly motivate those who like their food. Take your pick from salted meats, local Picodon cheese, chestnuts, various fresh fruit and, of course, a range of Côte de Rhône wine – gourmet delights you won't forget in a hurry!
But there's a lot more to cycling through Ardèche…
…Touring along the Viarhôna:
The Viarhôna is an excellent vehicle-free road set aside for use by bike, skates or scooter, linking the Léman river to the Mediterranean sea along 720km.
This cycle route runs alongside the stunning Rhône river and crosses the Ardèche from north to south hugging the right-hand riverbank. Fill your lungs with fresh air while admiring the transformation of the embankment that was for many years used as a towpath.
The Viarhôna is also home to a rich heritage found in the towns and villages situated along the river with their castles, bridges and historic town centres. Residents and tourists alike can enjoy a gentle ride by the river, though it's a little wild and unexpected in places. You could also take a short detour to Rochemaure to pick up the so-called « Himalayan footbridge».
Just 92km of the Viarhôna runs through Ardèche divided into four sections, alternating with passages through neighbouring Drôme. Since the spring of 2014, two sections – from Sarras to Glun and from Soyons to La Voulte-sur-Rhône – are up and running. The other two sections – from Le Pouzin to Rochemaure and from Viviers to Bourg-St-Andéol – will be operational in early 2015. For more information, visit www.viarhona.com
Discover the delight of the Dolce Via:
The Dolce Via is a superb vehicle-free path running along the Eyrieux Valley. Thanks to substantial regeneration work, this former railway track through the valley is now popular with walkers, cyclists and horse-riders who enjoy discovering the fantastic scenery and cultural heritage along its 51km from Saint Laurent du Pape to Le Cheylard. After 73kms in rural heartland, the Dolce Via links up with the Viarhôna to pass through Saint Agrève and Lamastre, finishing in La Voulte-sur-Rhône.
It's fun, invigorating and perfect for a family outing. Why not give it a go in spring when all the fruit trees are in blossom? Or in summer, when you could go for a dip in the river? Or in autumn, when all the colours are turning? More information at: www.dolce-via.com