Search our site

Take the Family › The Ardèche

The Ardèche Family Holidays and Breaks

Family activities in the Aven d'Orgnac.Family activities in the Aven d'Orgnac.©
Natural stone archway at Vallon-Pont-d'Arc.Natural stone archway at Vallon-Pont-d'Arc.© Robert Van Beets.
Ballooning in the Ardèche.Ballooning in the Ardèche.©
Inside the Caverne du Pont d'Arc.Inside the Caverne du Pont d'Arc.©
Le Mastrou - Train d'Ardèche.Le Mastrou - Train d'Ardèche.©
Vélorail des Gorges du Doux.Vélorail des Gorges du Doux.©
Flying Time 2hrs
Timezone GMT +1
Currency Euro



Named after the river that forms Europe’s largest natural canyon and a prime spot for canoeing and kayaking, the Ardèche is a popular destination for active family holidays. Untouristy, the area – home to the Parc Régional des Monts d’Ardèche and part of the Cévennes National Park – has peaceful campsites, ancient villages and gorgeous, often dramatic scenery, including sweet-chestnut groves, which can be explored by bike or on some of the 6000km of footpaths.

The southern part of Ardèche is the most popular place to visit. The spectacular Ardèche gorge, carved out by erosion, is a favourite holiday spot; families, rock climbers and mountaineers enjoy coming here for kayaking trips and other activity holidays. Central and northern Ardèche is in general much more quiet, but still with the same spectacular scenery – rugged mountains, gorges, chestnut and pine forests. And you'll need to speak French more around here, too!

Things to do with kids in The Ardèche

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.


Hearty rustic fare is the speciality of the Ardèche, including stews and casseroles enriched with red wine. If you're self-catering, local produce to look out for in markets includes the goat's cheese Picodon and chestnuts.

When to go to The Ardèche

Unlike the rest of the French Alps, the Ardèche is a place for summer rather than winter sports and activities, although the adventurous prefer canoeing in spring, when the water flows faster.


As a place to immerse yourself in the great outdoors, lacking in any major 'attractions', the Ardèche is a great choice for inexpensive family holidays, especially if you camp.

By Rhonda Carrier

Related features

20 Eco-friendly Places to Stay with Kids in Mainland Europe
20 Eco-friendly Places to Stay with Kids in Mainland Europe
Rhonda roots out the most tempting places for a green family holiday on the Continent.
A Family Holiday in the Ardèche, French Alps
A Family Holiday in the Ardèche, French Alps
Catherine and crew experience indoor and outdoor frights and delights in a region known for its active family holidays.
Best Products for Family Walking Holidays
Best Products for Family Walking Holidays
Angelina Villa-Clarke hunts out the best products to keep you on the move.
Top Tips for Enjoying French Markets with Kids
Top Tips for Enjoying French Markets with Kids
Fiona and friends introduce their kids to the life-enhancing pleasures of French markets.

Let us tailor-make the perfect family holiday for you

Call: 020 3633 0653
or click on enquire below

Offer of the Week

Sands Resort, Cornwall

Spend your family summer holiday at the Sands Resort & Spa in Cornwall
Prices from just £84 per adult per night. Find out more and BOOK NOW.

Skip to Navigation
Skip to Navigation