A French Adventure

France Sans American Tourists
  |  Gorp.com

Ardeche, quite simply, is where Europeans go to vacation. It's off the beaten track, wild, and doesn't have any of the high-profile chateaux and museums that traditionally attract U.S. visitors. For that reason alone, visiting the Ardeche is a perfect stop for someone who wants to sample the delicacies of French culture, but also would like a more active vacation in a trinket-free environment. A visitor to the Ardeche can still savor gastronomic and cultural experiences like sipping astis in a sidewalk cafe while old village men play boules in a nearby square, or enjoying an impeccably presented five-course meal in an unpretentious country inn that happens to be five centuries old. What's even better is that in Ardeche you can do it for about half the price as visiting Paris or other well-traveled corners of France. And because Ardeche is less-touristed, there's the added bonus of feeling more like a welcomed adventurer than just another American tourist doing the French circuit.

Ardeche is perfect for breaking up a longer French trip with a couple active days, and is certainly interesting enough to be a destination in its own right. The region marks the northern border of Provence with its rich Mediterranean feel, yet is close enough to other parts of the Rhone Alps region that you can easily head up to see the mountains or continue down to the south. In Ardeche, you'll find the characteristic warmth of Provence's people and climate, without the trendiness endemic to other parts of Provence—overflowing with Parisians and their second homes, or northern Europeans who have virtually colonized certain villages.


Published: 30 Apr 2002 | Last Updated: 15 Sep 2010
Details mentioned in this article were accurate at the time of publication

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