This is the reworked and final draft of my ‘travel feature’ assignment – I shared an earlier version of it here on the blog and after I received some comments (by email, a great benefit of sharing your work) I have reviewed it below.
For the adventurous family who likes to design their holiday and enjoys driving, France is an excellent destination offering countless possibilities.
After having completed the rite of passage of most British car travellers and spent a week in Brittany, the previous summer, we decided to travel further afield this time, to the south of France.
Our final destination, Vallon Pont d’Arc, a small town in the centre of the Ardeche region, offers spectacular views of the river Ardeche meandering through towering limestone cliffs.
An impressive 60 m high, naturally formed arch gives its name to the town and forms the entrance to this tourist honeypot.
In the summer, streams of colourful canoes go under the Arch in their descent of the river Ardeche, the most popular activity in the area.
With two very young children, our two year old son and our French friends’ one year old daughter, we opted for the comfort of a holiday house. To our benefit the house had been recently renovated, with a particularly exotic touch – a spiral iron stairwell brought from Thailand!
A house within walking distance to the town centre was ideal and soon our early morning strolls for fresh croissants, became a ritual that the children enjoyed.
Vallon Pont d’Arc is centrally located making it easy to go on half-day trips to nearby places. And for us long distance travellers, it was fantastic not to spend a lot of time on the road.
The town itself is home to a host of markets where local producteurs sell their delicious products. Ham, saucisson, wine, cheese and lavender flavoured nougat were some of the delicacies we tried.
Lavender is a local speciality and many by-products are sold in the local Lavender Museum, where visitors can also take photos in idyllic lavender fields.
Although tempted to only relax by the river or sit in a cafe while watching locals play petanque, we also had more physical activities and went canoeing, through the famous arch and into unspoilt pebbled beaches alongside the river. For those interested in pre-historic art, the area is a real treasure with its many pre-historic caves.
And if after swimming and canoeing in the river, enjoying panoramic views or immersing yourself in history, you feel eager for more, there is still plenty to do.
A number of villages of particular beauty are close by and have old houses clinging on to steep slopes, impressive beaches surrounded by high cliffs and pedestrian only centres where you can cool off with an artisan ice-cream.
Having a chocolate and vanilla ice cream might not be the climax for everyone but it certainly was for our son as was the coffee flavour for our friend Jérémie.
The impressive range of activities, natural beauty and culinary delights made Vallon Pont d’Arc a perfect holiday destination, worth getting to after long hours of driving from London. In a car without air-conditioning, I can now reveal, something that we will remedy before our next drive through France.