Canoe down the Ardèche Gorges, stopping at river beaches on the way, to swim, fish, climb or even camp for the night. Hire canoes independently or go as part of a guided trip or even a river-based activity break. A highlight is the famed 66m-high natural stone archway at Vallon–Pont-d'Arc.
Discover the area's spectacular caves: the most famous, the Grotte de Chauvet with around 400 rock paintings dating back more then 30,000 years, is off limits, but the Caverne du Pont d'Arc is an interesting reconstruction. Or head for the Aven d’Orgnac with 50 hectares of subterranean ‘rooms’ plus its own museum of prehistory plus some great family activities.
Try via ferrata (climbing using ladders and steps set into the rock face), or with younger kids explore the surrounds by donkey: several companies (including Trek'âne) run rides lasting several hours or even days (you can get a map and practical guide and do it without a guide, taking a picnic and staying at campsites, communal gîtes or B&Bs).
Take a two-hour ride through the splendid gorges of the Doux river aboard Le Mastrou steam train, or ride the rails on the quicky Vélorail des Gorges du Doux, a sort of pedal buggy/bike. Then visit the Jardin des Trains Ardèchois, with miniature trains doing the rounds of scale models of the region's landmarks.
Go hot-air ballooning from Annonay – this was where local boys the Montgolfier brothers first took to the air, and there’s an annual hot-air balloon festival here (June).
Don't miss the 1,550m volcanic cone near Mont Gerbier-de-Jonc, the source of the Loire; on a clear day it offers a 360° view of the Rhône valley, the Alps and Mont Ventoux.