This is the second part of my assignment for the ‘Freelance journalism and feature writing course’ with the London School of Journalism. I have to write a 500 words travel feature about a place I have visited recently. I chose to talk about last summer’s family holidays we had in the Ardeche region, in the South of France (covered in the blog in 4 previous posts Holidays in Ardeche, South of France 1, 2, 3 and 4). This is a summary of the trip with useful information about the practicalities, how to get there, finding your accommodation and our impressions. At the moment it feels a bit like too much brochure talk, not very personal, what do you think, do you find that? I would appreciate some thoughts on how to change it and make it more personal. Thank you.
For the adventurous family who likes to design their own holiday and enjoys the thrill of driving through a country, France is an option close to home.
When travelling, in the summer, a car with fully functioning air-conditioning is a must for not spoiling the fun.
Out of all the exciting options France has on offer, we decided to travel to the South, in the area of the National Reserves of the Gorges of Ardeche, from London. Recommended by our French friends we embraced the idea of discovering a new part of France but also having a different holiday by a river, rather than the sea.
Travelling with a 2-year-old means some compromises need to be made, such as breaking the journey in two parts and if possible travel at night. Crossing the English Channel through the Eurotunnel, is quicker and more economical that taking the ferry. Also children love it.
Driving down and back through the ‘Autoroute des Anglais’, the A26 from Calais to Troyes is straightforward, although the tolls need to be considered in your budgeting. On the way down we stopped at Dijon and on the way back in Reims, taking the opportunity to visit its famous Cathedral. The second leg involves driving through the A6 and A7, the “Autoroutes du soleil’, quite busy going south but less so, on the return.
After Montelimar you leave the motorway for smaller, meandering routes, up high in the mountains of Ardeche.
Vallon Pont d’Arc, our final stop, is a beautiful town with many markets and artisan shops.
Finding the right holiday house can be easily done through English or French websites. A place that is at walking distance from the town centre is a bonus, as it is pleasant to take the children for a stroll in the morning to buy the croissants.
Most of the activities are child friendly but depending on the age of the child, you may choose to go for a swim rather than take a toddler in a cave, especially not the ones with many steps going down a dark cavern.
The river Ardeche, does not get very deep and its cool waters are sublimely refreshing. Canoeing is very popular and you can choose from trips of different grades of difficulty. The scenery is stunning particularly as go under the iconic Arc, a natural formation, the town gets its name from.
A number of villages of particular beauty are at close driving proximity and have river banks for a quick swim or pedestrian centres where you can stop for an ice-cream while you watch locals play petanque.
Vallon Pont d’Arc has all the charm of a French holiday destination, with an impressive range of activities for the whole family, alongside natural beauty spots and culinary delights. The perfect mix recommended by our family, for a perfect holiday.