Top things to see and do in the Drôme

Written by on May 13, 2020 in Rhône Alpes

Hill top castle on a dusky night surrounded by lavender fields

Situated to the south of Lyon on the eastern side of the Rhône river, the Drôme department is split into three main areas. The Provençal part is to the very south, the Valley – Diois, and to the north, the Plain of Valence.

The Drôme is the number one department in France for organic production, agritourism and  wine tourism which has much to do with the warm climate and the soil. The quality of the produce is outstanding. It’s no surprise that there are some stellar restaurants in the region including those run by Michelin chefs such as Anne-Sophie Pic and her family. Some of the finest Drôme products include truffles from Tricastin, Valrhona chocolate, olive oil from Nyons and picodon cheese. Whilst the wines of the Hermitage, Tain l’Hermitage and Vinobres in the Rhône Valley, are world renowned.

The area has a wealth of interesting towns to explore including Valence. And there are heaps of   “Les Plus Beaux Villages de France”, châteaux in abundance and activities for every kind of enthusiast.

Here are just a few of the best things to see and do in Drome:

The Palais Idéal du facteur Cheval at Hauterives

Castle made from pebbles in the south of France

In Hauterives you’ll find the extraordinary Palais Ideal of Postman Cheval. Classified as a Historic Monument in 1969, it took Ferdinand Cheval 10,000 days and 93,000 hours over 33 years to build his fairy-tale palace all by himself. It is a remarkable work of naïve art. Absolutely unique, this ‘palace’ was built between 1879 and 1912. Cheval was a rural postman with no building expertise or architectural experience. His inspiration was nature, what he read in magazines and pictures on postcards that he delivered to the community. And, stone by stone, piece by piece he built the palace as a present for his daughter. It is now being considered for UNESCO status. Not just a fascinating to visit, it also hosts summer concerts.

The Château de Grignan

Renaissance style castle of pale stone with many windows in Drome, France

The Château de Grignan is the largest Renaissance palace in the south–east of France. It was made famous by the great French lady of letters, Madame de Sévigné, whose daughter married into the Adhémar family who owned the castle.

The view from the terraces is astonishing with a 360˚degree panorama stretching from this, one of the ‘most beautiful villages of France’ to Mont Ventoux.  In the summer evenings concerts are held.

Read more on Grignan – what to see and do…

The Château of Suze-la-Rousse

The Château of Suze-la-Rousse is a stunning medieval fortress. It was an impressive military fortress belonging to the co-Princes d’Orange which was later turned into a family home centred on the magnificent courtyard. Since 1978 it has been the home of the globally acclaimed University of Wine and hosts concerts, cultural events and more.

The Château de Montélimar

The Château de Montélimar is a 12th century medieval building.  It sits above the town, a marvellous example of Romanesque Mediterranean architecture and with unique arcades. During the French Revolution, like so many grand buildings, it became a prison and stayed as such until 1926.

Read about the famous nougat of Montelimar

The Tour de Crest

The Tour de Crest is the tallest keep in France and dates from the twelfth century. At one time it belonged to the French kings and the Grimaldis of Monaco. It’s considered to be one of the finest examples of medieval military architecture. Unsurprisingly, the views are outstanding. It served as a prison from the fifteenth to nineteenth century – you can still see some ancient, original graffiti.

Montbrun-les-Bains

Montbrun-les-Bains is classified as one of the ‘Most Beautiful Villages of France’. It has lovely fountains and monuments. With its tall houses of six and seven storeys, ruins of the Dupuy-Montbrun Renaissance castle, twelfth century church, elegant tower of the Clock Gate and fourteenth century walls are all a good reason to visit the village. Plus it’s a top thermal resort.

Valrhona – the Cité du Chocolat

If you love chocolate you’ll love Valrhona. Chocolate made here is known as the gourmet chef’s chocolate as it is favoured by the very top cooks. The Cité du Chocolat is dedicated to the “fascinating world of chocolate.”  Even the restaurant has a chocolate-based theme. The tour describing the chocolate making process is not only original and interesting but has lots of tastings, perfect for the most ardent chocoholic.

Travelling to the Drôme

By ferry to Calais or Dunkirk, take the Autoroute du Soleil from Paris.

For travelling to the Drôme by train, Valence is just over a two hour journey from Paris and it’s very easy to pick up a hire car to travel around the area. The nearest international airports are Lyon, Marseille, Grenoble, Saint-Etienne and Avignon.

Thanks to Gillian Green, Gillian Green PR for some great tips for visiting the Drôme.

Drome Tourism: www.ladrometourisme.com

Related Articles

How to explore the Gorges of Ardeche

The gorges of Ardeche in the far corner of the Rhône-Alpes region, south of France is one of the most popular places to go for the French. But visitors to France are hardly aware of its existence. Roads tend to be of the winding type and you really do need a car to see it […]

Continue Reading

Ardeche | Gorges, gorgeous villages and winding roads

The Ardèche with its winding roads and inspiring views is a surprisingly quiet corner of southern France. It’s at the very south of the Rhône-Alpes region, flirting with both northern Provence and the Languedoc. There’s a hint of the Garrigue (aromatic undergrowth) in the rugged landscape. And, you’re just a hair’s breadth from the lavender […]

Continue Reading

The Pont d’Arc and the Pont d’Arc Cavern, Ardeche

The Pont d’Arc is a 60m high and 34m wide. It’s a natural bridge carved out of the rock face of the gorge over the Ardèche River in Ardeche, Auvergne-Rhone-Alpes (formerly Rhone-Alpes). It’s a geological wonder and thousands of years of water and wind have eroded the stone into shaping this natural entrance to the […]

Continue Reading

5 Brilliant things to do in the Haute-Pyrenees, France

The French Pyrenees are a mountain range unlike any other. Situated along the French-Spanish border, these mountains have a distinct medieval history. Although they are less famous than their eastern sisters the Alps, their relative obscurity gives the Pyrenees a distinct peace. Robynne McTaggart of Le Belvedere, a gorgeous holiday rental home in the lush […]

Continue Reading

Valence Provence the gateway to the south of France

Valence is in the department of Drome, Auvergne-Rhone-Alpes (formerly Rhone-Alpes). Just an hour south of Lyon, Valence is a beautiful and surprising city. It’s known as the gateway to the south of France. From Paris, you can be there in a couple of hours on the TGV which steams its way through and on south […]

Continue Reading

Subscribe

If you enjoyed this article, subscribe now to receive more just like it.

Subscribe via RSS Feed

Comments are closed.

Top