The past three days we enjoyed the quiet roads of the Parc Naturel Regional des Monts d’Ardèche, or more commonly known as the Ardèche. We’d been looking forward to this area ever since Norway, where we met a French couple who recommended it.
Their description of the area was spot on. Because the mountains, former volcanoes, don’t rise as high as their more famous cousins the Alps, people tend to ignore the area. That left us with a vast network of minor roads practically all to ourselves.
Although the route we choose through the Ardèche was rewarding, it was also a lot of hard work. We got up at 6am each morning in order to get through most of the day’s ride before noon to avoid climbing the big cols in the heat, which topped out in the low 90s.
However there was one benefit to the heat. It made our dips in the rivers at the end of the day so refreshing.
The routes we chose borrowed heavily from a network of signed cycling routes in the area. These routes are featured each June as part of the Ardèchoise cycling event. The event is well organized and probably very popular. They even have an app, which gives excellent elevation profiles and information about all of the big climbs.
The Ardèche and the Vercors offer such wonderful riding that Carrie and I already started talking about coming back next year. Grenoble would make a perfect starting point.