Famous for its wines, its river and its gorges, the Ardèche is also a great destination for a family holiday, with of the main attractions the recently opened replica of the Caverne du Pont d’Arc.
The Cavern itself, discovered in 1994, features surprisingly complex artwork dating back 36,000 years – some of the oldest cave paintings in the world. An exact replica of the cave has been built, which not only means that the cave is safely preserved, but also that claustrophobic people like me can relax knowing that they’re not underground and that emergency exits are nearby. The walkways are also buggy-friendly. Tours are available in several languages (including English) and there’s also a gallery/museum with plenty of child-friendly touch-screens and interactive exhibits.
We also visited the 15th-century Château des Roures in Labastide-de-Virac, which, as well as displays on how silk was made in the area (including real silkworms and their cocoons at all the various stages), has a ‘ghost’ in its cellar telling the story of how guards accidentally killed the lady of the house in the 12th century. This was sufficiently scary that my daughter Livi left halfway through. Again, all the explanations, including the ghost story, are available in English.
We stayed just around the corner from the château, at Huttopia, a collection of cahuttes or wooden huts scattered through a forest so you get that back-to-nature feel without the inconveniences of camping.
Huts come complete with kitchen, shower and loo, with a tent on top so you can sleep under canvas, and a terrace with a table and comfy chairs. The site has a couple of pools with a wooden terrace, a restaurant/bar and a play area, and during July and August there are free children’s activities.
Read more about family holidays in the Ardèche or visit Ardèche Tourisme.