The Ardèche is a department that holds many surprises. A green, wild and mountainous territory, its nature is striking and conducive to multiple hikes and other outdoor activities. There are also towns and a multitude of villages with a certain charm, where it is good to stroll to contemplate the heritage and escape into the natural environment around. Not forgetting the historical sites that allow you to travel through time, the museums and the vineyards. It is easy to understand that the Ardèche never ceases to reveal its secrets. After renting a motorbike from the Yamaha Rent agency in Aubenas, which offers secure motorbikes and scooters, it's time to hit the road and explore a department that is sure to leave its mark on people's minds, and fascinate them in many ways
The motorcycle road trip starts in the town of Aubenas, which has a beautiful heritage and overlooks the Ardèche valley. You will ride through its historic centre to admire its most beautiful sights such as the Dôme Saint-Benoît, the Saint-Laurent church and the Delichères house, with its 15th century gothic façade. You will then go to the producers to taste the chestnut cream, a must, before continuing with the castle, the most beautiful example of civil architecture in the Ardèche with glazed tiles and mullioned windows. In the meantime, we will have taken care to taste an Ardéchois speciality at the Duguesclin, an institution in Aubenas. Once the bike has been collected from the rental agency, we head for Vals-les-Bains to spend the night at the Grand Hôtel des Bains, which offers rooms and villas in a very elegant setting. The tone is set.
The adventure continues with the Ardèche gorges. They are one of the most beautiful gorges in Europe, and riding through them on a motorbike is an enchantment. We also take the opportunity to leave the motorcycle at rest for a few moments, in order to take the paths on foot and then join the belvederes revealing breathtaking panoramas on the canyon. For the stopovers in the typical villages of the south of the department, we stop at Balazuc and Vogüé, with their medieval streets and overlooking streams in which we can take a swim. Then, stopping at Vallon-Pont-d'Arc, we leave the motorbike on a parking lot before taking the road to the Pont d'Arc, a 58 m high natural arch and emblem of the area. This is where you can have a picnic on one of the beaches, before embarking on a canoe and travelling through the gorges along the water. To enjoy the beauty of the southern Ardèche, you can stay for a few days in one of the Magnolia's guest rooms, which also has a swimming pool available for travellers. For a lunch or a dinner, L'Esparat in Vogüé is a very nice address, mixing Ardèche and foreign flavours.
Only 17 km separate Vallon-Pont-d'Arc from Saint-Maurice-d'Ibie, but the departmental road 558 is so pleasant to ride along the river and reveals the emblematic landscapes of the southern Ardèche! You can admire hills covered with boxwood, cades, holm oaks and aromatic herbs; the alluvial plain where lavender, fruit trees and vines are planted, as well as meadows where cattle live in great numbers. Once in Saint-Maurice-d'Ibie, we stop at the Domaine de Serre Long to stay in one of the traditional gîtes which can accommodate from 2 to 7 people. A swimming pool is to be shared. The location is ideal for discovering the village and its narrow streets with river stone houses, but also for enjoying the Ardèche gorges on foot or by bike, as well as for visiting the Chauvet 2 cave, where superb paintings dating back more than 36,000 years have been restored. For those who wish to treat themselves to a gourmet getaway during their stay, the restaurant La Cigale et la Fourchette located in Lanas offers local organic cuisine and wines in a lovely restored barn
The motorcycle road trip in Ardèche continues towards the north of the department, with a stop in Privas. The city is quiet and can be discovered along its streets, squares and historical route marked out with information panels. In the old town centre, La Petit Resto awaits bikers with home-made food. You can choose between a slab of rainbow trout or a piece of beef, always accompanied by well-seasoned vegetables. To sleep during the few days spent in the town, head for the hotel-restaurant Les Châtaigniers, with its cosy rooms and where there is no problem parking your motorbike safely. The hotel also offers electric bikes for hire to explore the surrounding countryside. Privas is close to the Eyrieux valley, a green area where typical villages, terraced fields and chestnut groves alternate. And how can you miss the neck of Sceautres? This hard rock peak, which is located on the site of an ancient volcanic chimney, is quite simply the largest neck in Europe! From its summit, you have a superb view of the surrounding nature and the roofs of the village of Sceautres at its feet
The last stage of this motorcycle trip takes us to Annonay, in the north of the Ardèche department. After having eaten a plate of gambas at Outre Terre, we stroll in the City of Inventors to discover its pretty narrow streets, as well as to visit one of the rare museums dedicated to parchment. This one also offers two charming and unusual guest rooms. Not far away, in Davézieux, the Canson and Montgolfier Paper Mills Museum allows you to relive the history of the paper industry from the 17th century to the present day, in the house where the Montgolfier brothers were born, in the heart of the Royal Manufactory. Around Annonay, there are plenty of activities on offer, such as a visit to the Peaugres Safari, the largest animal park in the Auvergne-Rhône-Alpes region, or a ride on a gyro-pod through the heart of the hills. And then, from Annonay, a prestigious site is only about twenty kilometres away, in the neighbouring Drôme. It is the Palais Idéal du Facteur Cheval, a masterpiece of art brut built by a single man. A place that does not fail to fascinate, with its ornaments inspired by Hindu temples, castles of the Middle Ages, Egyptian tombs, mosques, and its sculptures representing animals of the world and other mythological characters. This is how the motorcycle road trip in Ardèche can end, with a return to Aubenas to return the bike to the agency. The trip will have been rich in hilly, limestone and green landscapes, cities of character and incredible historical sites.
Motorcycle travelers can get information on tours and tips at the tourist offices of Aubenas-Vals-Antraïgues, Pont d'Arc Ardèche / Vogüé and Vallon-Pont-d'Arc offices, Privas Centre Ardèche and Ardèche Grand Air / Annonay region. For more information on motorcycle rental in Aubenas, visit the Yamaha Rent website.