Ardèche Travel Journal

> Detour to the Ardèche

22-07-2010 We've chosen the Czech Republic to spend our holidays and in about nine hours we drive to a little village on the Eastside of Prague with our tent in the back. The campside we found on the internet is not really what we expected, but soon we've found another one which we do like, in the vicinity of Kutna Hora. Here we pitch our tent, with temperatures still well over 30 degrees.

Kutna Hora23-07-2010 Last night a huge thunderstorm showed up, as well as extreme amounts of rain. Today the sky is overcast, but fortunately it's dry, so we spend the day exploring Kutna Hora.
However, by the evening it starts raining again and not just a little bit. The entire night it keeps raining firmly and we wonder how long our tent will remain dry.

24-07-2010 We use the computer with internet connection provided by the campsite to check out the forcasts, but what seemed so nice before we left home now turned into a week full of rain and low temperatures. All of Eastern Europe seems to be have the same problem.
Eventually, right after lunch, we decide to put all our wet camping gear in the trunk to drive back to Germany, where we'd plan to spend the night and decide whether we go back home or perhaps to the South of Europe.

25-07-2010 Predictions for the South of France are wonderfull, so we spend another day on the highway, to arrive in the Ardèche by the evening. The first two campsites are full, but Peyroche still has some Camping Peyroche Ardechespace left. The campsite is large and we don't get the impression it's overcrowded here. This changes rappidly as we visit a supermarket to buy some food. It's almost impossible to find a place to park our car and once inside the store we find a true battlefield. Still we have a lot of space around our tent at Peyroche, just like the other guests, unlike everything we see on the other campsites in this area.

> Exploring the Ardèche

26-07-2010 Still tired of the detour to get here we need a bit of rest, so we don't do much today. We go for a stroll through Ruoms, a nice village at about a kilometer from the camping ground, and when we come back there's a sign saying "complet" at our gate as well. We are so lucky, having arrived here yesterday!

27-07-2010 Now we'd love to see a bit of the place where we stranded and we take our car to visit the Pont d'Arc, where the beautiful route along the Gorges de l'Ardèche starts as well.
Pont dArcThe Pont d'Arc itself is thé symbol of the Ardèche and one of the most photographed spots in France. This natural stone bridge truely is adorable, apart from the loads of tourists paddling underneath in their canoes and another couple of hundreds sunbathing at the little beach nearby. We quickly take some photos and move on along the "corniche", which follows the flow of the river Ardèche.
Every now and then we stop to enjoy the gorgeous views and we're surprised how quiet and pieceful it is here. The crowd really seems to concentrate on the river down there. When we look down from a place near the "cathedral", another miracle of rocks, we see a true traffic jam of little canoes.

28-07-2010 Today we visit the countryside. Our Tom surprises us time after time with his extensive knowledge of roads and paths, which even the French don't seem to know. There really isn't a single person and we see the one beautiful landscape after another. We Boucherie Charcuterie Signvisit the villages of Ailhon, Jaujac and Meyras, all three of them very charming and photogenic.

29-07-2010 Balazuc is yet another gorgeous little village and it's situated barely ten kilometers from our campsite. We stroll around quite some time and even cross the bridge over the Ardèche river, to admire its extraordinary situation on the rocks from the other side. That's how we accidentaly find a walking path to the hamlet of Le Viel Audon. Volunteers have been reconstructing this abandoned place since years.

30-07-2010 Another pretty village is Labeaume, situated on the rocks at the Labeaume river. This morning we check out all the nice corners and alleys here.
Later we walk back to Ruoms, now to collect some information about walks in the environments at the local Tourist Information Office and to buy some souvenirs.

Market in Aubenas31-07-2010 In Aubenas is one of the largest weekly markets in the region and this morning we stroll amidst all the local products and stuff. After the many markets in Asia we don't get too much excited and soon we move on in the direction of Thueyts.
Here you find, just outside the village, a wonderful part of the Ardèche river. The water is really clear and you can cross the river over a tiny but extremely photogenic bridge: near Pont du Diablethe Pont du Diable, the Devils Bridge. We walk for some time along the river, picknick between the trees and continue to the village of Thueyts, a bit more elevated. In this village there are, once again, enough places worth a picture.

01-08-2010 We spend the first part of the day relaxing, but in the afternoon we walk to the dolmen of St. Alban Auriolles, a village in the neighbourhood. This dolmen is a mass grave from prehistoric times and in this area there are a few dozens of those left. The landscape is therefore mainly of rocky ground, the material of which the dolmen were made. For the rest it's very dry up here and there's not much else to do or see, a reason for us not to stay too long.

02-08-2010 By the end of another relaxing day we walk to the village of Labeaume through the woods near our campsite. The route is amazing, nature is almost Asian here and since there was some rain last night it almost feels tropically warm.

03-08-2010 This is the moment that we'll risk our lives in a canoe on the Ardèche river. The past couple of days we've been laughing about the clumsy actions of others and now we will do this all much better of course.
First we need to get from the shore into our floating banana Canoeing on the Ardeche and that's not as easy as it seems. As soon as we're off we head to the first rapid, about a hundred metres downstream. Unfortunately we didn't get the chance to learn how to paddle at this point, but full of confidence we head to it... and get stuck! On one of those big, annoying rocks. Luckily we're loose in just a few seconds as soon as we shake our ass a bit.
We're determined to do better the second time. The flow of the river has other plans and now we get through the rapids backwards, right on the spot where we've been laughing extremely loud, about others being as dumb as going down backwards, a few days before.
Fortunately we are quick learners and it now goes pretty weel actually. Untill we reach a junction where we take, as one of a few, the right fork, as we were told to do beforehand. At the spot where we join the main river a height of at least a metre is waiting. A huge wave of water gives both of us a wet suit. Was this that spot where a picture should be taken? Well, then they must have had a good laugh at the office!

04-08-2010 As we prefer to stay dry we take the car today. We do a great tour through the mountains, fitting in the medieval town of Cruas. Here we find an interesting abbey and castle, both very well preserved.

Cirque de Gens05-08-2010 Tomorrow we'd like to move back North, so we tidy things up a bit, book a room in Northern France for a night and visit the Cirque de Gens in the afternoon. That's one thing we didn't do yet. The Cirque de Gens is a wonderful, winding part of the Ardèche, with splendid rocks. The views over the bend in the river are great from the upper part of the gorge and we walk around for quite some time.

06-08-2010 Despite all the predictions of extreme traffic on the highways during the week-end, we don't have too many problems and even before diner time we arrive in Metz. Now it's not far anymore and we can look back on a nice holiday, even though it all went different from what we expected.

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