Full of unexpected views, the Drôme is a beautiful region. It is home to a great diversity of flora and fauna, and is suitable for a variety of sports and outdoors activities. There is a rich culture of arts and crafts, a vibrant tradition of both production and consumption of local delicacies, and an array of festivals throughout the year.
The Drôme is a hikers’ paradise. From the Ferme de Boulliane, which is surrounded by stunning nature, you can walk through woodlands or along mountain trails offering breathtaking views. There are hiking trails at all levels of difficulty, from short circuits to multi-day tours. There is a wide selection of Grande Randonnée routes you can pick up, or from the beautiful village of Poët-Laval (once the home of Gerard Reve) you can follow part of the historic route Sur les Pas des Huguenots, the secret path taken by the Protestant Huguenots in the sixteenth and seventeenth centuries, when they sought refuge in Switzerland and Germany.
It is also a wonderful place for mountain climbers. There are many climbing sites in the Forêt de Saoû, some very accessible, and suitable for beginners, others much more challenging. From the Roche Colombe (886 meters) to the west, to the impressive Trois Becs to the east (Le Veyou – 1586 meters, Le Signal – 1559 meters, La Roche Courbe – 1545 meters), the famous Synclinal de Saoû offers more than 750 tracks, all plotted, labeled and equipped in accordance with the current standards. For more information go to http://caf-saou-synclinal.com/le-site/presentation-du-site.
Cyclists can also enjoy themselves here. There is an endless array of rides for road cyclists covering all levels of difficulty, from easy to very challenging, and a wide variety of marked trails for mountain bikers. We would be happy to advise you, and we have a modest stash of maps you can borrow.
And there are many attractions for those who enjoy sight-seeing. A short bike-ride or drive from the Ferme de Boulliane takes you to a range of small, picturesque villages such as Saoû and Pont de Barret (both of which have excellent restaurants), the historical Soyans and Rochebaudin; a little farther away, quaint Dieulefit with its pottery ateliers, the magnificently situated Poët-Celard, Bourdeaux with its rich past, or the well-preserved medieval town of Crest, with the highest dungeon in France. In less than an hour’s drive through peaceful, rolling countryside you can visit Montélimar, famous for its nougat, the castles of Grignan and Suze la Rousse, Nyons, famous for its superior olives. And only slightly farther away are the renowned cities of Orange and Avignon, which are definitely worth the trip.
The fertile valleys of the Drôme are ideally suited for fruit orchards. In the spring they offer a stunning view of beautiful blossoms, and in summer and early autumn they hang full of cherries, apricots, peaches, nectarines, pears, apples and kiwis. . In late summer you will also find the sweet, fragrant Montoison melon that is typical of the region. Plump white garlic can be found on the farms around Grane, Chabrillan, Allex and Montoison, among others. Lovers of French cheese can indulge in picodon, the local artisanal goat cheese whose Appellation d’Origine Contrôlée is well deserved. From mid-June the fragrant lavender is in bloom, offering stunning views along the many routes that lead past the richly scented purple-blue fields and distilleries.
You have only to step into the fields around the Ferme de Boulliane to see lizards and butterflies and dragonflies, or hear the carpenter bees buzzing. You do not have to be an entomologist to recognise the typical scratching of the crickets, or the knocking of the woodpecker. You will find the buzzard by listening to its high, confident call, and birdwatchers will recognise the impressive Milan noir, or black kite, by its forked tail. Evening betrays the little Scops-owl, recognisable by its monotone ‘tju’, and you will be surprised by the wonderful song of the nightingale.
With luck, patience and silence you can see chevreuils (deer), hares, and wild boar around the farm, and if you are very lucky, even badgers, who rarely show themselves. In the Forêt de Saoû, the marmots and mountain goats are less shy, and it is home to more than a hundred species of breeding birds, from the sparrow, to the yellowhammer and blackhead, to large birds of prey like the impressive Circaète Jean-le-Blanc, or snake eagle, the golden eagle, and the peregrine falcon. http://www.faune-drome.org
Every August since the 1980s the narrow streets around the donjon in the charming town of Crest echo with hot jazz voices. The festival explores all facets of jazz: oriental jazz seasoned with Indian sitars, U.S. raw blues, Hip Hop and New Soul jazz, classical jazz, vocal jazz, virtuoso jazz pianists, jazz with flamenco influences and gypsy jazz….For more info: http://www.crestjazzvocal.com/
Fête du Picodon
During the third weekend in July, the nearby village of Saoû is buzzing with activity around the Fête du Picodon. The traditionally manufactured goat cheese is the focal point of a lively festival, with lots of music and a local market where many local products are for sale.
Saoû chante Mozart
Also in July, spectators from all over Europe travel to Saoû to attend the Saoû Chante Mozart festival. With concerts offered in Saoû itself and a number of villages and towns in the area, the high quality of the programming and the intimate atmosphere make this a very special festival.