27 July 2020
Just south of Lyon, the Drôme is a beautiful department with its varied landscapes, wonderful cuisine and exceptional places to see. One of the most compelling reasons to put the Drôme on your bucket list of ‘must visits’ after lockdown is the lavender – who is not attracted to the glorious sight of the fields bursting with colour? The best places to go are the Drôme Provençale and the Diois.
The Drôme is open again! In preparation for UK visitors, this first newsletter explains what is available – outdoor experiences to refresh minds and bodies after lockdown.
To qualify for a FREE Drôme Pass*, simply reserve a night’s stay in the region booking your room via the tourist board’s website. The Pass is valid either for one, two or three nights, is worth up to 150 euros and will be delivered directly to inboxes. The Pass can be used in a variety of tourism outlets like restaurants, hotels, museums, attractions etc. The Pass is valid until the end of December 2020. *NB: This is a limited offer
There are so many different places in the Drôme to enjoy the calming freshness of water – whether rivers – such as the Drôme, la Roanne, le Toulourenc or lakes such as Champos, or Vernets, gorges like Gâts or Ubrieux, waterfalls, open water areas like Pas des Ondes, or nautical centres such as Monde de Merlin
The River Drôme flows for 130 km form its source in Batie-des-Fonds to where it joins the Rhône. It is an ideal water course for canoeing and kayaking particularly in the Spring or after a heavy rainfall, and for swimming at all other times. The waterfalls are gorgeous and provide clear crystal waters in which it is an absolute joy to walk – try the Toulourenc Gorges with their dramatic white cliffs soaring above the waters, the skies filled with birds. The lakes offer all sorts of leisure opportunities – including trout fishing and mini-golf on the Père Eugène, pedalos, boating, volleyball, canoeing, fishing, tennis, walking trails, boules and more on Champos Lake. The nautical centres are all open now so water skiing, paddle boarding and wakeboards are available at in the Etoile Park 26 for example, as are the aqua parks such as the new one – Centre Aqualudique de l’Epervière at Valence.
Group activities are not allowed only individuals – on the Rhône, Isère, Drôme, le Bez, la Bourne and parts of the Lyonne
No parties near to water – lakes, rivers, pools, ponds etc
No barbecues or picnics
Omnipresent in the Drôme – culture is back …and it is everywhere …from the astounding Château of Grignan renowned for music and theatre, the Château of Suze-la-Rousse famous for its University of Wine and the Château of Montélimar whose medieval walls house a contemporary art museum.
Take one example, the Die and Diois Museum – a treasure house with exhibits dating for the prehistoric period; one of the most important archeological collections in the region of the Rhône-Alps.
Opening Tuesday – Saturday, 14.00 – 18.00 until 15th September 2020
All adults 12yrs+ to wear face masks
All visitors to use the hand-sanitizers provided
Visitors to follow the one-way system around the rooms
No more than four people in a room at the same time.
Respect the physical distance with other visitors
Do not touch any of the exhibits, tables, cases etc
Have you ever tried the flying trapeze? Wanted to tour the vines in a gyropode, explore an adventure park, visit the crocodiles, tried a ‘devalkart’ or a boat on wheels? Most things are possible in the Drôme! Even something relaxing and simple such as the little train around the vineyards of Tain l’Hermitage.
Photo credit: Ardèche Hermitage
Tours will take place only until 15th September 2020 at set hours – – 11.00, 15.30, 16.30 and 18.00
Plexiglass has been installed between the seats on the train and everyone has access to hand sanitizer.
The train is thoroughly cleaned between each tour.
Reservations can only be made online on the new website
Something a little less motorized – try a horse and carriage ride to explore the Drôme at a more leisurely pace – that of the horses!
There are just two itineraries to choose from this year.
Both afternoon tours take approximately three hours.
One goes from the Pays de Dieulefit, Bourdeaux, the Drôme-Provençale, the old wood route and the Eglise de Comps.
The other takes in the forest of the Saoü Drôme Valley, the Rosier Road, the Col de Pascalin and the village of Poët – Célard.
An exceptionally low price of 100 euros buys a carriage ride for four – eight people
Ever more appreciative of local produce, there are several ways in which visitors may experience the agricultural richness of the Drôme.
Something everyone enjoys on a trip to France is a visit to the local market, now matter where that may be!
Photo credit: Drôme Tourism
One rather more unusual market will take place this year on 7th August 2020 in the charming village of Grignan – a fancy dress nocturnal market! The market first took place on the tri-centenary of the death of the French lady of letters- Madame de Sevigné in 1996. The market brings together local producers with regular fruit, vegetable and other food-based goods, with artists, sculptors and creators of all sorts of art. They all dress in seventeenth century costume – which is good for visitors too – and will not stop anyone tasting, trying the goods on offer…and having a fun time.
All markets have health safety precautions in place:
Sanitizers on all market stalls
Floor markings to help distancing
If you are self-catering with the family in the Drôme, then visit one of the specialist shops in the region selling some of the magnificent produce for which it is famous – fruit, vegetables, olives, truffles, wine, beer, dried fruits, cereals and much more, after all this is one of the most important agricultural areas in the country.
Photo credit: Compagnons de la Terre
For example, La Ferme des Compagnons in Eurre – where all produce is local and bio – goat’s milk yoghurt. chickens, eggs, bread, honey…the list goes on. At Brins de Terroir the farmers sell there produce alongside local artisans – a unique proposition in the Valley, and very popular.
Photo credit: Drôme Tourism
Shop hours are set at 15.00-19.00 Wednesday (Compagnons) and 10.00-19.00 Tuesday – Saturday (Brins)
Let someone else do the cooking – visit one of the Ferme-Auberge of the Drôme where the weather can be enjoyed on a terrace in the sunshine eating delicious food, all locally grown.
Photo credit: Domaine Distaise
Visit, for example, the Ferme-Auberge Domain Distaise – an authentic Provençal mas whose specialty is slow cooked pork – five hours in a brick oven! Sit back and enjoy the views and the food – and you can even stay here too as there are a few rooms and gites to hire.
The restaurant is open every evening during the week (except Monday) and lunchtime and evening on the weekends
Pre-booked reservations only
One product synonymous with the Drôme is lavender and the production does not stop because of coronavirus. Visitors will still enjoy the wellbeing holidays based on aromatic plants such as lavender – in Nyons and Buis-les-Baronnies for example. Here a visit to the distillery is included together with a speciality boutique, aroma garden, an in–room aromatherapy massage and a delicious lunch.
Photo credit: Drôme Tourism
Health safety is the priority, so some elements of the programme may need to be modified accordingly.
Strict hygiene procedures are in force
No restrictions here – those wide-open spaces remain just that!
There are 2,600 kilometres of cycling itineraries in the Drôme, 3,500 kilometres of mountain bike trails and over 70 ‘Welcome Cycle’ suppliers – which all helped promote the region to the holder of the title ‘Cycle Destination’ back in 2017.
Walk for an hour or for a day, with llamas, donkeys or with a guide! Relaxed, sporty, marching out – there are routes and trails for all. There is easy online access to maps, plans and circuits that may be easily downloaded from the internet.
There’s also, of course, no restrictions on the exploration of the glorious towns and villages of the Drôme – simply pretty scenery and interesting monuments, lovely places to stop for a coffee on a shaded terrace or a lunch al fresco with a stunning view.
Five villages have earned the label ‘Most Beautiful Villages of France’ – Grignan, renowned for Mme De Sevigny, the lady of letters, le Poët-Laval, La Garde Adhémar and its herb garden, Mirmande – village of artists, and finally Montbrun-les-Bains with its thermal waters.
There are other beautiful ‘perched’ villages dating mostly from the eleventh and twelfth centuries. For a long time, it was thought that these villages were constructed as a defense against the Saracens. It seems more likely these days that they were monopolies for the local lords and rulers to gain power financially around a certain type of production such as a flour and with no descent of the population to the plains and valleys before the nineteenth century.
Notes to Editors: The Drôme is the area of France just south of Lyons, situated between the Vercors and Provence. There is a great diversity of landscape and a wealth of agriculture with everything from lavender to wine, fruit and vegetables to olives. The Drôme is the premier part of France for bio-agriculture which has much to do with the warm climate and the soil. Some of the finest Drôme products include truffles from Tricastin, Valrhona chocolate, olive oil from Nyons, picodon cheese, etc – often used by some of the finest chefs in France that have restaurants here – such as Anne-Sophie Pic for example in Valence. The wines of the Hermitage, Tain l’Hermitage, Croze-Hermitage and Vinsobres in the Rhône Valley are world renowned.
Visit lovely villages such as Grignan, often built of local stone, gorgeous châteaux such as Suze-la-Rousse and its wine university. There are towns like Montélimar the capital of nougat which is not to be missed, alongside cities such as Valence with its long history. Romans–sur-Isère is the shoe capital of France, all interspersed by gorgeous scenery of the Vercors, Baronnies Provençales and Rhône Valley.
To sum up, The Drôme offers a great short break destination, perfect for family holidays and active breaks.