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Valence, the gateway city to the south of France, a place of history, fabulous restaurants and wonderful architecture as Lucy Pitts discovers Just an hour south of Lyon, Valence is a beautiful and surprising city. It’s known as the gateway to the south of France and from Paris, you can be there in a couple of hours on the TGV which steams its way through and on south to Montpellier and beyond. Perched on the banks of the Rhône River, a stone’s throw from the Ardèche, Valence is a city of narrow cobbled streets, parks, canals, the regal Champ de Mars, a marina, and a diverse mixture of architecture. It has history, culture and cuisine in abundance and all basking in the reach of the Vercours Mountains and the Pre Alpes. In the footsteps of pilgrims and popes The TGV station is about 10km out of the centre but the city’s Gare de Valence Ville is a beautiful 19th century structure which brings you right into the heart of the city (or sends you off on its many tendrils to explore the region). From here walk straight down Avenue Pierre Sémard and it will being you out into the grand Esplanade du Champ Du Mars.
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