The Good Life France Magazine

The Good Life France Magazine brings you the best of France - inspirational and exclusive features, fabulous photos, mouth-watering recipes, tips, guides, ideas and much more...

Published by the award winning team at The Good Life France

1 year ago

Issue No. 14

From Paris to the Loire Valley, and everywhere in between, how to live like a millionaire in Nice on a budget, French island hopping, a fairy tale chateau and Monet's Garden in Giverny. Everything you want to know about France and more.

The Dolce Via Hitting

The Dolce Via Hitting the cycling trail – by train! The good news is that you don’t have to be super fit to enjoy the cycling trails of the Ardèche. Hôtel de la Villeon is only 5 minutes’ walk from the famous Via Rhôna, a 815 km cycle route that goes from Lake Geneva to the Mediterranean. Better still, just to the north of Tournon is the Tournon St Jean train station for the local steam train and this is another good way to start your cycling tour. You can load your bike on the train and the 1hr 40- minute ride will take you up through the Gorges of the River Doux and the Doux Valley, through chestnut forests and by way of mountainous views to the lofty town of Lamastre. It’s a beautiful way to start getting to know the landscape and saves your legs a hard climb. In Lamastre, you can take to the Dolce Via, 75 km of meandering, gentle cycle track . It’s on the route of a former train line that originally linked some of the region’s most rural and remote towns and villages and it guides you gently from Lamastre through the Eyrieux Valley. The route is divided into 6 sections of between 7 and 16 km each and it’s certainly something a family could tackle together. It’s an idyllic way to travel and if you haven’t got children I’d suggest visiting in early September. It’s still wonderfully warm but also blissfully quiet. There are plenty of places to stay en route, including a number gîtes which are “Accueil Vélo” (which means they are

The Via Rhôna home accredited to a high standard and provide particular services for cyclists). Along the way there’s also two “village de caractère” (Chalencon and Beauchastel) as well as kayaking, river swimming and tree top adventure if you want to take a break from the cycling for a while. But most importantly, the Dolce Via is a gently undulating journey over viaducts, through tunnels and alongside some simply fantastic views. The valley far below is dotted with traditional old silk mills of the 19th century and the surrounding hills are thick with woodland and wildlife. It’s a thoroughly civilised way to travel and a journey you could manage in a day or two or spread out over 3 or 4 days to a week. When you ever tire of admiring steep ravines and pretty villages, at La Voulte sur Rhône you can pick up the Via Rhôna. This flatter cycle trail will take you past vineyards and sleepy hills, along the banks of the Rhône back to Tournon (about 35 km), or straight to Valence (about 20km). Of course, your quick tour in the saddle has given you only a glimpse of this stunning region. If you have the time, head further south to the Ardèche Gorges and explore some of the dozens of village de caractère. The Ardèche is a quiet region just basking in rugged and rural beauty and somewhere that is worth savouring slowly.

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