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This part is the Rues des Grand Forts and the old quarter that takes you up above the town. Tiny cobbled roads, just wide enough for a horse or a walker, take you slowly higher and higher and you feel like you’ve entered a secret world of picturesque but miniature houses and streets. You catch views across the hills in one direction as the sun climbs and glimpses of the scurrying shoppers at the market in the other. You’ll also stumble across the Tour Randonne. This 13th century chapel with its ornamental bell tower is quite a surprise. Back in the town and the market has erupted into life. Nougat, apricots, roasting chickens, olives and lavender draw you in. The school in Nyons is right next to the square, making the smells and sounds of market day, part of their weekly education. It’s no wonder this fabulous market tradition survives. Lavender and Romans Nyons has a vibrant economy and apart from olives and fruit, lavender is also a key player. There’s a beautiful Roman bridge on the edge of the town and just before that, there’s a lavender distillery, the Distillerie Bleu Provence. It’s a great opportunity to learn more about the harvesting, distilling process and the quality of the essential oils. If you’re lucky enough to get a tour with the owner, Philippe Soguel, you’ll get a rare insight into the passion that drives lavender production in this area and the search for more efficient and more ecologically sound methods of harvesting and processing. You can also try some of their ice cream including geranium, lavender and thyme flavours, all of which are delicious..
Explore and enjoy There are all sorts of reasons to linger here. Nyons is famed for its black olives and is an olive “appellation contrôlé” area. You can discover the olive groves on foot as part of the “Sentiers de l’Olivier” and there’s also a “Jardin des Arômes” to explore with 300 different species of fragrant plants. Or just hire a bike and take to the vineyards. Nyons is a wonderful mixture of sensual colours and flavours, history and nature. It feels very special tucked away at the foot of the hills and you won’t want to leave Although it’s bustling, it feels strangely calm and welcoming and you're sure to want to stay as long as you can. INFORMATION Nyon Tourism: www.paysdenyons www.ladrometourisme.com For a tour of the lavender distillery visit: www.distillerie-bleu-provence.com For places to stay: Hotel Colombet is ideally placed in Nyons centre, not far from the tourist office with tables and dinning overlooking the square. www. hotelcolombet.com Transport to Drôme: Valence has a TGV station and it’s possible to get trains from the UK or Paris: uk.voyages-sncf.com Although valence has an airport, most flights are to Lyon or Grenoble.
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