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

Winter 2022

  • Text
  • Giveaways
  • Recipes
  • Christmas
  • France
  • Vineyards
  • Villages
  • Medieval
  • Provence
Discover France’s magical winter wonderland destinations - from the French Alps to the French Riviera. Read about the biggest bûche de Noël, Christmas log cake, in the world and see Paris when it snows. Head to the sweet village of Flavigny in Burgundy where the film Chocolat was filmed and to Rouen, the Ardèche region and Côtes du Rhône. Go gaga for gorgeous Gascony and feel festive at the colourful Christmas market of Metz, Lorraine.Toulouse, feel good films, recipes, guides and giveaways…

Cascade du Ray Vallon

Cascade du Ray Vallon Pont d'Arc Mountains before turning sharply south near Aubenas, this is a department for anyone who loves outdoor adventure – soft or challenging – and an authentic rural lifestyle that’s in tune with the environment. First major town that you come to travelling south is Annonay, renowned for the colourful July festival that celebrates the invention of the hot air balloon. But ‘major’ is a tad misleading. Despite being the department’s largest town, Annonay has fewer than 17,000 people. Tournon-sur-Rhône, some 35 km to the south, is even smaller but well worth a stopover for its castle museum, riverside frontage and lively café culture. Further south and west, the land begins to rise as you approach the county town of Privas, gateway to the Monts d’Ardèche Regional Natural Park and UNESCO-listed Géopark. This is Big Sky Country where the lands ripples towards the distant horizon in huge folds. Highest point at 1753 metres, close to the border with Haute-Loire, is Mont Mézenc, but most iconic is Mont Gerbier de Jonc, source Ardeche at Balazuc of France’s longest river. It’s a popular tourist attraction, but don’t expect to see a gush of water springing neatly out of the earth. The Loire’s inauspicious start is formed by the joining together of small streams that flow down from the top of the plug topping this ancient volcano. If, like me, you can’t resist a dramatic landscape, the Monts d’Ardèche deliver at every turn. This once turbulent landscape still bears the evidence of ancient eruptions and not just in its volcanic hills. At the Cascade du Ray-Pic, water tumbles 200 feet over basalt columns that solidified more than 30,000 years ago. Look too for signs indicating the invisible Ligne du Partage des Eaux, the natural watershed that slices north-south through the west of the department. Rain falling on one side flows to the Mediterranean, and on the other, to the Atlantic, though how people prove this, I’m never quite! Many artists, sculptors and crafts people have studios in this inspirational landscape and eight eclectic outdoor artworks have been installed along the 100-km Watershed Trail. I particularly loved Mazan Abbey, a Cistercian ruin nestled in a deep valley and location for ‘Un Cercle et Mille Fragments’, an innovative installation by artist Felice Varini. The roof, walls and adjacent bridge are painted with arcs of gold leaf, arresting in themselves but if you stand in the right spot, complete circles appear to balance on the church roof. Clever stuff! With no urban population exceeding 17,000, Ardèche is a region of villages with 21 of them awarded the Villages de Caractère label. Two of them are also listed amongst the elite band of Plus Beaux Villages de France. Walk the medieval streets of Vogüé, dominated by a 16th century chateau, and explore the vaulted passageways and ancient fortifications of Balazuc, perched – like Vogüé – above the Ardèche river. The artistic gem of the Grotte Chauvet once stood beside the river, but over the millennia the course has changed and today the Ardèche cuts deeper through the limestone. But whilst the original Grotte Chauvet 32 | The Good Life France The Good Life France | 33

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