D�partement at a glance: Dr�me (26)

In the Rh�ne-Alpes region, the d�partement of Dr�me covers widely differing landscapes which form five distinct areas, each one offering its own cultural, gastronomic and scenic character. The bountiful Dr�me Proven�al area shares many features of its sun-soaked southern neighbours, including lavender fields, olive groves and a Mediterranean climate. This contrasts with the flat plains around Valence, the lush Dr�me Valley, the wine hills of Dr�me des Collines and the mountain climate felt in the Vercors plateau, where the stunning rugged scenery compensates for a brisk northerly air.

Capital of Dr�me is Valence, a quaint market town halfway between Lyon and Avignon. The local saying proclaims; � Valence le Midi commence, referring to the southerly climate and culture of the town. Today, Valence is a popular stop for food lovers who come to taste the divine dishes of Anne-Sophie Pic, France’s only female chef with three Michelin stars, at the century-old restaurant La Maison Pic.

Heading south will take you to Mont�limar, famed for its sticky white nougat traditionally consisting of almonds, lavender and pistachios. Visitors may like to taste the famed product in confectioners dotted along the town’s promenades, or to sit on one of the sunny caf� terraces that pepper the medieval centre. Otherwise, the bustling town of Nyons warrants a visit for its architectural heritage, such as the arched Pont Roman de Nyons and the intricately decorated stone Tour Randonne.

A quirkier architectural wonder is the Palais Id�al du Facteur Cheval in Hauterives. The labour of a local postman who spent 33 years assiduously constructing his perfect palace, this motley masterpiece seems to incorporate every conceivable architectural style.

Dr�me’s rich gourmet itinerary includes Nyons’s AOC labelled olives, Ard�che’s famous Picodan goat’s cheese and two prestigious AOC wines from Hermitage and Crozes-Hermitage. The town of Tain-l’Hermitage is home to the luxury chocolate maker Valrhona, whose highly regarded �cole du Grand Chocolat is in the town.

Zo� McIntyre

Calendar and events:

Most Read

August – Festival National des Humoristes, Tain-l’Hermitage

August – Parfum de Jazz, Buis-les-Baronnies

December – Lumi�res et Images en F�te, Valence

GETTING THERE:

By air: Many airlines fly to the Lyons-Saint Exup�ry International Airport.

By road: Paris to Valence is 580 kilometres and will take about 5� hours to drive.

By rail: The TGV to Valence takes just over two hours from Paris and one hour from Marseille.

Information:

www.ladrometourisme.com