Between Lyon and Avignon, along the Rhône valley, the Drôme marks the meeting of the Alps and Provence, of which it already has a warm and fragrant accent.
By Christian Marchand
Culture is omnipresent there: from castles to palaces like the “ideal” one of the factor Cheval, from music and theater festivals to arts and crafts, to be discovered in preserved villages. Here, nature has safeguarded its rights, offering endless routes to practice many sports activities. And in the colorful markets, local products give a foretaste of Drôme gastronomy… not to mention the high quality wines, which enjoy a legendary reputation. An extraordinary playground for great family adventures.
From hills to plain
To the north of the department there is a green and secret Drôme, made of hills and valleys through which the Rhône and Isère rivers flow. It is a land of forests, orchards and vines from which the two grands crus, Hermitage and Crozes-Hermitage, are the flagships of the Tain-l’Hermitage vineyards. This city is not only famous for its many wine cellars, but also for the Cité du Chocolat Valrhona, an unmissable event for young and old alike.
Not far from there, in Romans-sur-Isère, a city historically closely linked to leatherwork, has just opened the City of Shoes, which gives pride of place to made in France. The Drôme des Collines is also the natural setting of an architecture unique in the world, a masterpiece of brut art: the ideal Palace of the postman Cheval, in Hauterives.
Valence, located on the largest north-south European route, 4:28 from Brussels by TGV, is today a stopover city par excellence. Its assets: an old center, shaded squares with welcoming terraces, markets, an art and archeology museum. It is a Mecca for gastronomy, with three Michelin starred chefs including the famous Anne-Sophie Pic, the only female chef to have received the highest distinction. Aware of its strategic position on the banks of the Rhône, Valence, with the Epervière (Blue Flag of Europe), is home to France’s leading river port.
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Up there on the mountain
At the foot of the natural citadel of Vercors, Royans unfolds its hilly landscapes, where walnut is king. Then, suddenly, the sublime roads carved out of the rock, like that of Combe-Laval, rise in a grandiose panorama of vertical cliffs and majestic cirques. The Vercors regional natural park, with its remarkable flora and fauna, is an ideal place for hiking and is home to mid-mountain resorts, to be discovered in summer and winter. There are fun and unusual activities such as tobogganing on rails, and hikes with donkeys, sled dogs (cani-rando and husky-kart) or in a trailer. A scent of adventure to share with the family, in complete safety.
Along the Drôme river, under the gaze of the Tour de Crest (highest dungeon in France), a multitude of small valleys combine southern mildness and pre-Alpine temperament. Le Diois, with its picturesque villages, offers its Clairette de Die (sparkling wine), its aromatic herbs, its crafts, aquatic activities (canoeing, canyoning) and of course, as everywhere in the Drôme, thousands of hiking, horse riding or mountain biking trails.
An air of Provence and … the tropics
The Côtes du Rhône and Grignan-les-Adhémar vineyards around the medieval castle of Suze-la-Rousse; Montélimar, its nougat and its Palais des Bonbons; the castle of Grignan, the olive groves and the lavender fields… Provençal Drôme is a real land of charm. There is also a tropical air in Pierrelatte, at the crocodile farm, unique in Europe: more than 350 crocodiles rub shoulders with giant tortoises, pythons, monitor lizards and Komodo dragons in the midst of more than 600 tropical plant species.
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Drôme loves cycling
For cyclists, cycle tourists and mountain bikers, there is no doubt that happiness is in the Drôme! Varied reliefs, unique landscapes, picturesque roads, a mild climate in the off-season: ideal conditions for sports, family or tourism. Two Voie verte cycle routes have been opened: the Viarhôna, a large route along the Rhône, connects Lake Geneva to the Mediterranean Sea by crossing the Drôme from north to south (67 km), while the Voie verte de l’Isère cycle route ( 42 km) follows the course of the Isère river, revealing the secret charms of Drôme des Collines and Royans. Other routes are in place for a complete discovery of the Drôme and 3,000 km of marked trails are available to mountain bikers. To complete the experience, labeled accommodation offers you a privileged “Cycling welcome”.
Not to be missed: the Tour de France 2020 will pass Nyons and Montélimar on July 1, during the fifth stage. Notice to amateurs! New in 2020, the Cyclo Camp Drôme: discover the south of the Drôme by bike at your own pace and enjoy personalized welcome and services in a family campsite. Whether you are with your family, on an electric bike or an experienced cyclist, it’s up to you to compose your circuit with ease.
A very starry gourmet land
No less than six Michelin-starred chefs sublimate and transcend the good products of the Drôme region. In the sky shines Anne-Sophie Pic, from Maison Pic *** (Valence), the only female chef to have received the supreme distinction. Then comes Jacques Bertrand, des Cèdres ** (Granges-les-Beaumont). With them Julien Allano, from Clair de la Plume * (Grignan), Sébastien Bonnet, from Kléber * (Crest), Michel Chabran * in Pont-de-l’Isère, Masashi Ijichi from La Cachette * (Valence) and Sébastien Poinot from Flavors * (Valence).
Culture and heritage: the castles of Grignan, Suze-la-Rousse and the Adhémar, the ideal Palace of the postman Cheval, the hilltop villages, the tower of Crest, the towns of Valence, Romans-sur-Isère, Montélimar, Nyons…
Nature: the regional natural park of Vercors, that of Baronnies Provençales, the forest of Saoû, the Drôme river, the lavender fields and the olive groves …
Wines and gastronomy: Côtes du Rhône wines (Hermitage, Crozes-Hermitage, Vinsobres), Grignan-les-Adhémar, Clairette de Die, truffle, olives from Nyons, Picodon and blue from Vercors Sassenage (cheese), ravioli Dauphiné, nougat from Montélimar, Valrhona chocolate, pogne from Romans, Swiss from Valence …
– by train: TGV Brussels – Valence in 4:28.
– by plane: Brussels – Lyon (Lyon St Exupéry International Airport) in 1 hour 25 minutes.
– by car: Brussels-Valence (808 km) in 8 hours (motorway).
Connect to Drôme Tourisme: www.ladrometourisme.com
And on the networks: La Drôme Tourisme on Facebook, Instagram, Flickr and YouTube.