For the first part of our holidays, we drove down to the South of France from London, crossing the Channel Tunel, via the Eurotunnel, in the special ‘le shuttle’. We were meeting our friends that live in Lyon (but originally from Brest) to spend a week, with them, in the touristic town of Vallon Pont D’Arc.

These ‘shuttle’ trains are great, they have two storeys and cars go into them, a concept which our little one finds super fascinating and a little strange. We go into a car and the car goes into a train? And it should continue but when he’s a little older, the train goes into a tunnel, and the tunnel is under the sea… And the sea is … on planet Earth etc, etc…

Once inside the shuttle, it is great (how exciting!) as you can get out and stretch your legs for half an hour.

It was actually quite a long journey, driving from London to Vallon Pont D’Arc in Ardeche, a total of an estimated 11hours which we broke down in two. First part London to Dijon where we stayed for one night. The second part was from Dijon to Vallon Pont D’Arc which is after Montelimar on the ‘autoroute du soleil’ and close to Avignon. Who’s been travelling at the end of July across France will know about the heat. It was 38-39 degrees on the way down south and with a car with no air conditioning, any other cars with windows shut, becomes an object of envy! We wanted their cool air, especially when stuck in traffic for 2 hours and with only hot water to drink.

But we made it, finally got to the lovely Vallon Pont D’Arc, a nice town deep inside the mountains, in ‘les gorges de l’Ardeche’. For me being in France is great, and it feels a little bit like a second home and I love the fact that French is all around me. We saw the sign of Clermont-Ferrand on the motorway, the place I lived in first for 2 years, when I went from Albania to study at the University of Clermont 1. 

Vallon Pont D'Arc in Ardeche







After having suffered the heat for a good 3 hours, all we wanted was to dive in the fresh waters of the river.

The waters were clear for the first couple of days, before a storm and heavy rain hit, which refreshed us and it also turned the river brown, for the next few days.

Canoeing is a popular activity on this mountainous river and Vallon Pont D’Arc, is the center of the canoeing, as most river trips start there.

This is the image you will find in most postcards from Vallon Pont D’Arc, which is the arch where the name comes from.

This is one of the panoramic viewpoints along the touristic road. The river is quite brown, especially from up high.

The good thing about this area, was that there was a lot to do. Between swimming in the river, canoeing, visiting ‘villages with character’, vineyards, the numerous and impressive caves, the lavender museum, daily markets in the village, we never felt we were doing the same things twice.

Late market in Vallon Pont D'Arc

Late market, on Thursday night, in Vallon Pont D’Arc








We were at walking distance from the town, which was great as we could take the children out in the morning and buy the bread, from the local ‘boulanger’ for our breakfast. We also had a pizzeria near by, which came in handy, for a few dinners and lunches. 

This is the first part of the holidays blog. In the next ones I will show pictures from the lavender fields, in the lavender museum, Avignon which we visited for a day, villages of character in the area and vineyards.