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Reviewed on 27 Feb 2020
As you arrive in the Drôme department, you instantly feel a change in the weather and sense that the Mediterranean isn’t far away. This part of France’s Auvergne-Rhône-Alpes region straddles the Rhône River as it makes its way south towards Provence.
Take a leisurely tour through gently rolling countryside past endless vineyards, olive groves, sunflowers and fragrant purple fields of lavender. Stop by sleepy villages or wander through the historic streets of the larger towns of Valence and Montélimar.
Have the sights of Valence on your doorstep by staying in a modern hotel in the centre of this riverside city. There’s also the choice of booking an apartment hotel with a kitchen. With all of the delicious produce on offer in Drôme’s food markets, self-catering is an excellent option in Drôme. Enjoy some of the facilities of Drôme hotels including outdoor pools, or book a stay in a romantic hotel in the middle of the countryside.
Explore the Renaissance streets of Valence, to see its impressive cathedral and the flamboyant Gothic facade of the Maison des Têtes. Step inside the Musée de Valence by the cathedral and check out the large collection of art and archaeology from this part of the Rhône Valley. Relax in the cool greenery of Parc Jouvet, in its picturesque location beside the Rhône.
Head further south to the town of Montélimar, which has an attractive old town of narrow lanes. See the mini exhibits in the Musée de la Miniature before heading to Base Nautique, where you can have a chilled-out picnic and a lazy swim in the lake.
Discover some of the grand castles in the middle of the Drôme countryside, including the Medieval fort and Renaissance Château de Suze-la-Rousse near the border with Provence. Suitably for the region, the château is also home to the University of Wine.
If you want to get out and about, the Drôme countryside has an extensive network of hiking and biking trails, including the Véloroute Voie Verte traffic-free cycle path.
Choose from high-end dining in Michelin-starred restaurants to simple riverside cafes offering local specialities that mix central and southern French cuisine. If you have a sweet tooth, visit Montélimar, one of France’s biggest producers of nougat and the best place to stock up at one of the many nougat shops.
You can’t leave the region without visiting some of the vineyards that stretch across the tranquil landscape of the Drôme department. Drop by a wine cellar for a tasting of the robust Côtes du Rhône Villages, or try the refreshing crémant de Die, a sparkling white wine.
If you’re in the northern part of Drôme, the closest airport is Lyon, which you can reach easily on the A7 motorway. For southern Drôme, fly to the airport in Avignon in Provence. The high-speed TGV railway network goes through Valence as it makes its way from Lyon to Avignon and Marseille further south, if you want to take the train.