The Parc Naturel Régional de Camargue
CROSSING THE UPPER RHÔNE IN THE WILD
From the banks of Lake Geneva, pass through spa towns and mediaeval villages as far as Geneva. An athletic stage awaits you within the Bird Reserve of Les Teppes de Verbois, between Verbois and La Plaine. Enjoy the parade of migratory birds through this valley that separates the departments of Ain and Haute-Savoie, and then visit the charming ancient city of Seyssel. Here, you will delight in the landscape of lakes and vineyards, as well as the local gastronomy. Next, cross Chanaz, a charming village by the Canal de Savière. Then, nature accompanies you through the Balcons du Rhône as far as the edge of Lyon.
HERITAGE AND GASTRONOMY
The route continues after a visit to the old town of Lyon and the Colline de Fourvière. Take the train to Vienne and take a break in this town which is classed as a Ville d’Art et d’Histoire (Town of Art and History). Its ancient heritage is among the richest in France. Next, coast on the greenways – don’t miss the excursion to the Parc Naturel du Pilat. After Sablons, ride the greenway by the Rhône, which has a wealth of heritage visits and gastronomic options. After a visit to Valence, the Ardèche awaits you. Bear south to the beat of mediaeval sites before arriving in Montélimar: the capital of nougat. Finally, enjoy some well-deserved chocolates in Valrhona, the city of chocolate in the heart of Tain-l’Hermitage.
FROM MONTELIMAR TO BEAUCAIRE
From Montélimar, meander between the Rhône’s banks, and then explore the Vaucluse and its vineyards. After a stop in the Roman town of Orange, head due south with Mont Ventoux as your backdrop. To reach this famous pass of the Tour de France, take the Via Venaissia greenway, accessible from Orange.
Passing through the vines provides the most magnificent scenery. A break in the village of Châteauneuf-du-Pape invites you to discover its wines that are made from thirteen grape varieties. Be vigilant between Sorgues and Avignon; you can expect four kilometres of heavy traffic before you get back to the canal path. When you arrive in Avignon, take a walk in the City of Popes. This European Capital of Culture in 2000 is reputed for its festival (which takes place in July) and its famous bridge. Enjoy a picnic on Europe’s biggest river island: the Île de La Barthelasse.
Once there, cross the Rhône to Tarascon. Walk around the medieval town and admire its castle, its town hall, and the Kilmaine district.
FOR NATURE LOVERS
Shortly before Fourques, the ViaRhôna splits, and you have to choose between the Mediterranean and the Camargue. Are you dreaming of lagoons, pink flamingos and horses galloping in the marshes? Then head for Arles! The town retains an extraordinary heritage from its Roman era, particularly its amphitheatre and Roman theatre – both classified UNESCO World Heritage Sites. From the Van Gogh Bridge, follow a greenway to the Rhône Delta between marshes and wind turbines. The Parc Naturel Régional de Camargue dazzles with its unique landscape. When you arrive in Port-Saint-Louis-du-Rhône, you can punctuate your adventure with a swim in the Mediterranean at the wild Plage Napoléon.
FOR LOVERS OF THE SEASIDE
Want to marvel at the Mediterranean’s many shades of blue? Take the ViaRhôna towards Saint-Gilles and visit its mediaeval centre. After a route made up of little roads, a greenway in the heart of the Camargue in the Gard leads you through marshes, vineyards and salt flats. When you arrive at Aigues-Mortes, you can enjoy the panorama from the city walls or the Tour Carbonnière. A few kilometres further on, you arrive at the Mediterranean Sea! From La Grande Motte to Palavas-les-Flots, the beaches await you. You can glimpse the Étang de Thau and Mont Saint-Clair when you arrive in Sète, your finishing point.