Although the Ardèche area of southern France is perhaps best known for the gorge which makes the Ardèche River into a top canoeing destination, the dramatic scenery also makes for great hiking. The Ardèche département is home to nearly 6,000 km of marked walking trails which criss-cross the varied landscapes of this stunning region. Contained within this area are also two parks, the Parc Régional des Monts d’Ardèche, and the celebrated Parc National des Cévennes. Hikers are particularly drawn to the diversity of natural habitats, which range from mountains, high, wind-swept plateaux, a karst (limestone) area pockmarked with many caves and steep-sided valleys and more fertile farming country, characterized by orchards and vineyards. Naturally, this variety of landscapes results in a great diversity of flora and fauna too, including the extremely rare – and very majestic – Bonelli’s Eagle.
If you’ve walked yourself to a standstill, there are lots of other ways of exploring the Ardèche. One of the most obvious is on the many watercourses that cut through the region. Canoe adventures on the Ardèche River are an absolute must, but you might also want to try your hand at horse riding or pony trekking, mountain biking, or for the even more adventurous, take to the air! The area has a long-standing connection with aerial travel, being the birthplace of the Montgolfier brothers, who developed the first practical hot air balloon. Want to experience something a bit different? Why not try out a little microlight flying?