Saturday, 26 September 2015

Friday 25th September – driving around the Ardeche countryside

Breakfast at our rather luxury hotel is a reasonable buffet…nothing too over the top, but sufficient to send us on our way. We have chosen a few more remote village locations in the north of the area that we are in. These narrow roads are getting easier.

The northern Ardeche area is full of mountains (large hills at least) with great views all around and valleys with villages, rivers and farms. While this area is nice and green, there are also lots of rocky limestone outcrops and escarpments. I suspect it gets quite hot here in the summer and some of the higher areas also get snow in the winter. At this time of year, the weather seems mild and around 19 – 21’c averages with occasional days of rain (not this week though!).

Our first stop is a small hilltop village, and like all the villages the house are made from the same local stone, meaning there is a consistency of look to everything. This village is quite exposed and the wind is blowing hard and cold, so we don’t spend long here. No one is about, and all the houses seem shut up, but a dog wanders out to say hello indicating that there is some life about.

On one of the roads down a valley we are desperate for a coffee and find a place precariously perched on the side of the hill overlooking the river, valley and mountains. It doesn’t look much from the outside, but we suspect it might have a coffee machine. Once inside we realize it is a bit of a local institution, as there seems to be quite a few locals wandering in. As it is lunchtime we decided to stay and eat. The food is excellent; all the vegetables are grown in the garden down below the house. We have the ‘plate of the day’ which is entre, main & a dessert or cheese for ~$28. The food was excellent - magnificent homemade pate & salad for entre, a main of pork stuffed vegetables and rice, Jackie had the blueberry pie and I had a selection of cheeses. This was washed down with a glass of local rose and a coffee. It was a great find!

We stop at a couple of other small villages before stopping at the final village that has been built in a secluded valley, up the side of a hill. Another scenic stone village, with church and castle standing out above the houses below. We stroll around, along with quite a few other tourists. We have decided to do all the tourist stuff on a weekday, as I am not sure I could face these narrow roads with the volume of weekend traffic that I suspect occurs. It is all very pleasant and we head back.

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