We didn’t have long to ponder over our strange departure from La Coste, as we immediately went to join my parents in Tournon-sur-Rhône. They treated us to the luxury of staying in a campsite 😊 with toilets and showers and everything!

On our second night there, Tournon was celebrating the summer solstice with music from every street corner! We even stumbled across an enormous wind orchestra playing an ABBA medley in the market square. It was a perfectly warm evening to be strolling around the little alleys, soaking in the sounds and sights. The city felt alive – with its footbridge lit up beautifully.

Marc Seguin footbridge

The next morning, we took our bikes on a steam train up through the Gorges du Doux.

Train de l’Ardèche

We arrived in Lamastre around midday – and it was a scorcher of a day. ‘Feels like 38oC’ said the meteo! The start of our cycle route ascended at a very slight gradient – but in the heat it was seriously slow going. Once we reached Nonieres (the closest village to our workaway place), it was all downhill for about 8km, much to our relief. This path retraced our steps from the first cycle that Kieran and I did with Matteo and Jean-Charles to the waterfalls – so I took mum and dad there again for a well-earned dip in the cool waters!

M & D

Our route took us all the way down the Vallee de L’Eyrieux, with a stopover night at St-Saveur-de-Montagut. We set off early the next day to avoid the burning sun, and the morning was pleasantly cool. While we made our way back up the Rhône to Tournon, the heat began to build up again and the last 20km or so were a real slog.

Bike!

The day after we said farewell to the parents, we went to pick up Abi from Valence 😊

Together we made our way back to southern Ardèche, and the famous Vallon Pont d’Arc:

Pont d’Arc
Mandatory jumping in photo

The area was pretty touristy and we were struggling to find a spot to camp for the night…in the end we stayed in the car park of one of the (many) kayaking places, hidden from the main road and right next to the river (with a toilet and washing up tap hooray!), and just hoped we wouldn’t get a telling off!

We went on an epic day of kayaking 24km down the Ardèche river!

A & K
Abs showing her skillz
Kayaking Kieran

The pictures speak for themselves but the scenery was spectacular! Canoeing is definitely the best way to see it all – there were no roads on the cliffs or beside the river for that whole section. It was popular for a reason…the whole day we were on the river there was never a moment alone – hundreds, maybe thousands, of other kayakers swarmed the waters. We paddled quickly to get as far as we could from two massive, and annoying, groups of English PGL camps!

About halfway along was a small nudist beach. Which I’m sure would have been peaceful and idyllic if not for the constant stream of ogling kayakers flowing past.

We kayaked this!

Whilst with Abi we also explored an old medieval town called Balazuc:

Moments of Wonder – with Abi and Kieran

I think we survived pretty well for five days with three in the van! We had fun adventuring with Abi and were sad to let her go off on her solo travels to Spain…

Here ends our first experience of visiting the Ardèche, congratulations if you managed to read this entire essay! In our next instalment, we go to the Alps – to escape the stifling heat.

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