The Caverne du Pont-d’Arc is an amazing replica of the oldest known decorated cave in the world. Its discovery astonished the worlds of both archaeology and art history, not just because of its amazing animal paintings (425 individual animals from 14 species) but also for their quality, the techniques used and their immense age. Some of the images on the cave walls were painted 36,000 years ago – a figure that’s hard to get your head around till you realise that as much time has passed between us and the prehistoric paintings in Lascaux as evolved between these paintings and Lascaux – a staggering 18,000 years each.
For information and booking tickets, please use the link www.cavernedupontdarc.fr as pre-booking is strongly recommended in the summer. English speaking tours are available.
The Aven D'Orgnac is stunning in a totally different way and thoroughly recommended. Again, English speaking tours are available.
There are numerous other grottes and caves to explore in the region.
We are extremely lucky in the Ardèche to have access to music and theatre throughout the year. In Lablachère itself we have La Ferme Theatre which regularly has live performances. La Salle de Bournet in Aubenas has a lively programme of theatre and live music. Labaume en Musique is a stunning production, with concerts being given literally on the river and well as other local venues.
Kate Ladner's and Nicholas Tordorovic's opera recitals in their own home in nearby Uzer are extremely popular and the Chateau at Vogue has regular summer concerts. Roums is the home to the annual Aluna Festival which last year starred, amazingly, Stromae, in previous years Johnny Halliday and Joe Cocker, and this year bands include The Libertines, Les Insus, Michael Polnareff and Francis Cabrel.
Tel: +44.7775 537632
The French are renowned for their love of food and their cooking. Local markets provide seasonal produce and are extremely popular, especially for fresh vegetables, fruit, nuts, cheese, olives, honey and saucisson. Lablachère holds its market every Sunday and Joyeuse has it's every Wednesday and both resonate with beautiful smells and atmosphere. Goats' and sheeps' cheese are produced at local farms and many are sold through Picodon, whose "factory" is based nearby at Payzac. The region is not conducive to growing wheat and other grains so it relied heavily on chestnuts to provide the staples of everyday life like flour and beer as well as olive oil and other products from the local olive groves.
Café culture started in France so it is not surprising that nearly all of our local cafés, bars and restaurants have terrasses where you can sip your coffee or apéro and eat your meals al fresco and enjoy watching the world go by.
Numerous restaurants throughout South Ardeche cater for all tastes, from local French cuisine to pizzas to Asian food to fast food and to gourmandise like Likoké in nearby Les Vans which has just been awarded its first Michelin star and La Table du Moulin at Brès recently featured as the most highly recommended restaurant in the Ardeche in Saveurs magazine. Whilst Bistrots du Pays may have a more limited menu, the menu du jour ensures that you receive freshly prepared and cooked local produce.
Wine production is taken very seriously in the Ardèche which falls within the region of the Côtes du Rhone, however the Ardéchois are particularly proud of their local wine, and with just cause! Our area is full of vineyards and our local cave cooperative at Lablachere is unusual in being completely independent. Over the last few years, it has produced wines which have won gold medals at the Concours Generale Agricole Paris. We strongly recommend their Viognier and their Chatus wines.
We are also blessed with many domaines who produce their own wines and vintages, Domaine de la Selve, Vigier, Chazalis and Domaine de Bournet being two which immediately come to mind.
Other cooperatives with interesting wines within a short distance can be found at Ruoms, Rosières and Vallon Pont D'Arc.
Climbing and bouldering are extremely popular locally, and there are a number of escalade sites specifically set up for climbing by ropes throughout the area, but particularly near the Chazzezac river at Castlejau.
The Ardèche is covered with bridleways and there are numerous pony clubs who will hire out horses for hacks across the garrigue.
Local walking groups will guide you over the Beaume-Drobie area. There are numerous walks in our region and we can lend you our specialised pack for Lablachère.
A nine hole golf course has also recently opened at Grospierres, one of the very few in the South Ardèche.
Fly, game, coarse, predator, traditional, using ground or local bait, fishing / angling is available throughout the Ardèche where there is more than 1250 miles of first class rivers.
For those who want challenges, the descent of the Ardèche or Chazzezac rivers by canoe or kayak is a must. You can chose between a 7km (four hour descent) or a 27 km descent and if you fancy taking your time over the longer paddle, then you can bivouac at the Gournier site. We have links with Ardèche Adventures, a local British business, who take couples and families on the river.
Canyoning and caving professionals can lead you to discover the chasms and underground sites of interest.
Paragliding is another breath-taking activity and the Ardèche boasts numerous trails of different lengths and difficulties for mountain biking.
For the Tarzans amongst you, we have two High Ropes centres, one at Les Vans, the other at Grospierres.
The Ardèche is a place to relax and enjoy, but also a place where you can challenge yourself.
For those who want to relax, according to the Ardèche Tourist Office we enjoy 300 days of sunshine a year, so you can come and lap up the warmth.
Swimming in rivers is a lovely way to cool down and there are recognised swimming places in Joyeuse, at Castlejau, Chambonas and Les Sallelles to name a few within a short distance of our gites. If you prefer a pool complex, we have a state of the art one in Lablachère, La Perle D'Eau, which has three pools and outdoor slides and has something to suit all ages.
Walks in the coolness of the Bois de Paiolive or the vineyard walks around Lablachère can be taken at your own pace.