1 : Railbike (Vélorail)
At the heart of this endless nature, one element is prevailing in the landscape: the Doux Valley. This valley has always been the link with the Rhone Valley, especially through its famous Mastrou. However, for several years now, the steam train shares the railway with some newcomers: the railbikes. These Beetle-like red cars offer you the opportunity to travel across this enjoyable and diverse valley. The departure point of the several courses is at the station of Boucieu le Roi. No need to worry about the difficulty, you will first go down with the railbikes and then come back to the station with a diesel train. Our favourite trip? The Etroits one. As its name suggests, it takes you to the narrowest, the wildest and the more inaccessible part of the Valley. But, it is before anything else the part that will allow you to enter the Sensitive Natural Area of the Doux. Watch out! When crossing the Mordane tunnel at full speed you will switch from daylight to obscurity in a split second. Shout loudly until the exit so that you can hear your voice echoing all around you! The railbike is part of our top 5 activities within the area around Saint Felicien, we can even say that it definitely is a must-do activity…
2 : Picturesque villages : let’s meet with our old stones
Still in the Doux Valley, no need to introduce the famous village of character of Boucieu le Roi anymore. Often called “The village of a thousand secrets”, pace up and down the village to discover them. Little tip: a discovery path have been created so that you will have all the codes to unveil most of its secrets.
The stone prevails and gives the village a tenacious character, just like the people living there when we think about it. Here are 3 other picturesque villages for our top 5 activities around Saint Félicien !
This village is located just above the Doux Valley. Will you be alble to distinguish the 4 castles of which the village is made of ? In order to do so, you should not hesitate to explore the vast surrounding countryside. The treasure hunt “Les Archives cachées d’Arlebosc” will also be very useful. The Viaduc campsite, which is surrounded by the Doux River, is also an excellent base camp in the middle of the nature. Its out of the ordinary accommodations will guarantee you a unique experience!
With its “col du Buisson”, Pailharès is another well-known village for cyclists even if they often pass by the village without really visiting it. However, cycling through the village will allow you to wander through narrow streets where you will completely feel disconnected from the rest of the world. The village offers you an astonishing view over the valley of the Daronne and its source that is not far from there. In recent months, the village has also gained a reputation as a “sweet gourmet village”. Numerous food lovers have already set up their shops to offer you pure flavours and products made with heart. From local fruit nectar to honey-based caramel and fruit jellies (ideal to fight hypoglycaemia as you can imagine), let yourself be curious and try all the delicious snacks. A perfect way to learn more about the essence of this beautiful area and to discover a village that perfectly complements our top 5 activities around Saint Félicien.
3. The hikes in our top 5 activities around Saint Félicien !
After so many delicacies, it is time for a little bit of exercise. That’s perfect timing as Saint Félicien area is a real paradise for nature sports. For that matter, you definitely need to learn more about the famous Ardéchoise cycle race when you have some time to spare. For now, here are the 2 unmissable hikes.
The Gorges de la Daronne
We already spoke about the Doux valley and its magnificent gorges. But this vast Sensitive Natural Area is in reality made of what is called the “3Ds” standing for Doux, Daronne, and Duzon. These three well-hidden rivers make it difficult to explore them. In fact, the only truly accessible gorges are those of the Daronne. Go for the eponymous hike that will take you to its heart. Here, you must take the time to settle down and disconnect. The river flows slowly as if to lull us to sleep. The curious hamlet of Saint Sorny and its chapel are also there to remind us that human life was once held here. If you pay attention, you may find masks carved in the stone. Finally, the Indiana Jones-type suspended footbridge will undoubtedly thrill the ones looking for adventure. Be careful, however, you remain in a sensitive natural area and on private property, so please be respectful of the place so that we can continue to enjoy and explore this exceptional area.
The Col du Marchand
Now, let’s move on to the village of Pailharès. From here starts the Col du Marchand loop. It was renamed “Col du Marchand” in tribute to the illustrious centenarian cyclist who broke all records. And you know what? The pass also culminates at 911m in tribute to this character born in 1911. They say that there is no coincidence, but still... The ascent continues towards the culminating massif of Ardèche Hermitage, namely the Sardier, a breathtaking panorama awaits you there. Do not hesitate to continue the ascent to the crest. On the one side, you will dominate the whole Ardèche Hermitage territory and on the other, the Auvergne will open up to you with the emblematic peaks of Gerbier de Jonc and Mont Mezenc.
4. Le vélo
How can we talk about Saint Félicien without spending some time on cycling? The mythical Ardéchoise race has been building the reputation of the area since 1992. At the time, we were talking about “the tour of the canton”. Today, nearly 15,000 cyclists come to ride on the roads of the Ardéchoise. Cycling is therefore an obvious choice for our top 5 activities around Saint Félicien.
The winding and narrow roads. A nightmare for the sensitive stomachs of motorists but a true paradise for all the cycling enthusiasts. Every diversion is a good pretext for discovery and wonder. You can enjoy the view at any time, which will even make you forget about the steep relief from time to time. We are not in the Alps, yet the succession of passes will challenge the cyclists’ thighs in the same way.
For the less sporty, do not hesitate to come and see us at the tourist office to rent an electric bike. Definitely one of the best ways to discover the area. To begin with, we have to mention the Fontdreyde pass, which is for us the most beautiful pass in the area. Its regular ascent allows you to enjoy the landscape at all times. At the top, the view is breathtaking between the Doux and the Daronne rivers. The village of Pailharès stands opposite. However, it would be sacrilegious to turn back here now. Keep following the same road to the village of Nozières. Fill up you water bottle at the village fountain, and continue to the Col du Buisson, or the Col du Faux, or even to Lalouvesc for the foodies. We can guarantee you that you won't be able to take your eyes off this mesmerising landscape.
5. The markets, an essential of our top 5 activities around Saint Félicien.
There is no successful holiday without markets. Saint Félicien is lucky enough to have two every week. First of all, on Fridays, a real rendezvous for all locals to chat on a café terrace. You will find everything you need to fill your fridge with delicious products. Sunday is for the more perfectionist ones. It's all local. We generally call it “the local produce market”. The products come from within a 10 km radius, and the quality is top-notch. Fill your basket, and hurry to the kitchen when you arrive in your gîte to sublimate these exceptional products. Afterwards, set the table in the garden and enjoy a good bottle of wine. Do not forget the afternoon nap and the petanque (the famous French boules game) at the end of the day and everything will be reunited for a successful Sunday.
The market of Saint Victor on Friday afternoon! This market will allow you to do all your shopping before the week-end. Fruits, vegetables and jams are waiting for you there.
In Colombier le Jeune, a nice little farmers' market is also held on Tuesday afternoons.
We now have reach the end of our Top 5 but keep up with the adventure with the Top 5 ideas for visits around Tain - Tournon! Many great excursions await you in Ardèche Hermitage.
We now have reach the end of our Top 5 but keep up with the adventure...Many great excursions await you in Ardèche Hermitage.