Who goes there?
You're at the gateway to the South: welcome to Valence
, half-way between Lyon
. The French illustrator Raymond Peynet
, set his romantic illustrations in Valence
and indeed the town is a little haven of romantisicm and poetry. Built on four tiered terraces beside the Rhône
can be found between the wild countryside of the Ardèche
and the Vercors
offers a little taste of the south and is well known for its fine cuisine.
The 11th century Romanesque Saint-Apollinaire Cathedral in Valence
dominates the town, this is one of the oldest buildings in Valence
. In the choir resides the statue of Pope Pius VI
, who died in Valence
in 1799. You'll find other traces of his presence in the boulangeries in Valence
: try a Suisse
, an orange-flavoured pastry biscuit which looks just like a Vatican guard, and is in fact around 200 years old (the recipe, that is).
The ghosts of Peynet's famous illustrated "sweethearts" still haunt the Kiosque Peynet
, a bandstand on the Champ de Mars: take your sweetheart and recite some poetry or whisper sweet nothings there.
In the town centre, the Parc Jouvet
is one of the most beautiful parks in the Rhone
valley, with an impressive view over the ruins of the Château de Crussol
The Maison des Têtes
(house of heads) is a fabulously decorative 16th century hôtel particulier
, which has welcomed numerous illustrious figures over the years. See if you can spot some of the famous "heads" on the façade, such as Aristotle, Homer, Hippocrates
is proud of its fine cuisine, and of the fact that France
's greatest chef, Anne-Sophie Pic
who has three Michelin
stars weaves her culinary magic in Valence
. Award yourself a visit to her restaurant La Maison Pic
Chocolate-lovers, take note: Valence
is chocolate heaven. The chocolaterie Valrhona
in Tain l'Hermitage (20 minutes away) makes what must be the crème de la crème
of chocolate. You'll find Valrhona
chocolate sold in numerous shops in Valence
... For the ultimate choco-paradise, don't miss the Valence Chocolate and Sweets Fair
. Take the opportunity to try some local sweet treats, such as pogne
(egg brioche flavoured with orange blossom or rum), Montélimar
nougat, truffles, sweet chestnut paste from Ardèche and Valence
If you intend to travel to Valence
, the Ardèche Gorges
not far away are well worth an excursion. Equally, the Pont d'Arc
, is a stunning naturally occurring arched bridge: a sight worth seeing.
If you're visiting Valence
with the family, the Soyons Archeological Site
will fascinate the kids with the story of how man once lived in prehistoric caves.