Tour de France, Stage 4 – Privas

Text read by Mary Peters

Today, Geneviève takes us west, into the Rhône Valley, at the foot of the Ardèche Mountains.

Privas is the absolute contrast to Orcières. You will find it around 240km west of Orcières, in the eastern part of the Ardèche, where it is very rural. The town, with its 8000 inhabitants, is the ”Chef-lieu” of the department.

Small as the town is, it has an impressive past. It was a major Huguenot centre in the 16 – 17th centuries, until the Siege of Privas in 1629 in which the city was destroyed. 

Privas was also widely known for its silk industry and iron ore mining. Both industries ceased to exist by the Second World War. Today, it is renowned for its “crème de marrons” and for its “marrons glacées” (sugar-coated chestnuts). It is also the gateway to the Parc Naturel des Monts d’Ardèche.

You can discover the town by starting at the Tour “Diane de Poitiers”, (1500 – 1566). This formidable woman is remembered as a patron of Renaissance architecture and for being King Henri II’s mistress. Follow the historical path with its 24 information boards. Then, relax on the terrace of a café, before you decide to climb the Site Montoulon where you will find 3 crosses, and a sculptured Pieta (Madonna) and can enjoy the panoramic view of the town and the Ardèche mountains. Take some time as well to have a look at the Louis XIII bridge which is a “listed” historical monument. Built in the XII century, it was restored by Louis XIII. It is the oldest witness to the history of Privas. The river it straddles is also an indication of what rivers to expect in the Ardèche mountains.

That be the historical setting. There are, of course, many outdoor activities which can be done here: walking, cycling through the mountain passes and mountain biking in the Ardèche mountains. The Col du Benas has an altitude of 795m.

About 40km from Privas, you can have a look at an “atelier d’emaux” (enamel atelier) run by Claude and Mady Michel. Located in La Garde Adhémar, you can also learn how to create enamels or buy their beautiful and amusing creations.

At Meyras, 27 km east, you can immerse yourself in a medieval village and listen to the street hawker “Dédé l’Ardéchois” when he opens his cabinet of tales and shares with you the better and perhaps not so pleasant moments of everyday life in bygone times.

The surrounding area of Privas, is abundant with castles. One random example, the Chateau de Vogüé, 36 km southwest, dates from the 17th century. Here you find a suspended garden, a dungeon, chapel and, unusually, a stateroom. (Salle d’etat). Far from being a stuffy old building, there are many activities for you to do as well.

Privas is a great place to have a base for other day trips. Valence is a mere 40 km northwest, whilst nougat lovers will be in clover when they drive to Montélimar, which is slightly closer, but in the opposite direction. Only 37km southeast separate you from heavenly, sweet indulgence.

Down from the Alps, in the Rhône Valley, at the door of the Ardèche mountains, is a place, like so many here in France, that will sweep you up and carry you away. And we didn’t even mention food and restaurants.

Enjoy!



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Tour de France , Stage 3 – Orcières-Merlette

Text read by Mary Peters

After the pleasant atmosphere of Sisteron, Geneviève from Cleebourg gives us the opportunity to get fit and have fun. Stage 3 of our Tour de France.

We continue northeast and a mere 90km away from Sisteron, you enter a completely different world.

Welcome to Orcières where there is enough to keep you busy for a week or longer. This eye-catching resort is located in the Hautes Alpes. It was built in the early 1960s. The lowest altitude is 1850m and the highest is 2770m. There is a skiable area of 607ha. The total length of all the ski runs is 100km.  The longest single run is 8km.

It is not the biggest ski resort in France, but it offers a lot. And not just in winter. The summer programme is nothing to be sneezed at.

There are two marvellous winter stations to choose from. Orcières-Merlette and Serre-Eyraud. Both offer a complete programme for all the family. There are snow schools for infants, adolescents, and of course, adults. There is also a special programme specially tailored for mobility reduced people.

The range of winter activities is impressive. Alpine skiing, Nordic skiing, free riding, snowboarding, dog sleighs, roll air cable rides, ice karting, snow biking, igloo building, ice climbing and it boasts Europe’s longest zip-line. You reach a speed of 130 km/h on the 1.9km run. It’s all over in about a minute.

After a day’s skiing, you can “relax” in the leisure centre with spas, indoor-outdoor swimming pools, a cinema, ice skating and bowling.

You certainly do not have to worry about starving. There is a big choice of restaurants and caterers. You are spoilt for choice. A selection of shops means that you can park your car and do not have to leave the resort.

When the snow has gone, the resort transforms itself with summer activities. On offer are hiking trails. You have a choice of tours lasting 1 hour (easy) to a full day with an altitude difference of 1335 m.  For mountain biking enthusiasts there are normal cycle paths but for those looking for adventure, the station offers downhill paths, such as a path of 3,5km but which drops 550m.

There are free running mountain trails where you can navigate through untamed nature.

But that is not all. Hiking on treetops, horse riding, rock climbing, kayaking, fishing, canyoning and rafting. Sleep in trees, walk on water in water balls, test your driving skills in electric karts.

If that is not enough, there is also an extensive night life with bars and discos to choose from. For the children there is an animal park and a chance to explore beehives and see how honey is produced.

Local specialities are Goat’s cheese from unpasteurized milk. And then there is Génépi. It is a herbal liqueur, a distant relative to absinthe, and is drunk neat as a digestive. It is an acquired taste.

Another local speciality is flower jam. The use of the word “Confiture” is regulated in France, so the flower not to be called jam is sold as “Délices de Fleurs”.  About 40 different types of blossoms are infused and then fruit pectin is added. From dandelions to poppies, from wild carrot blossoms to elderberries, the range is as wide as the possibilities for picking in the surrounding area.

The local brewery makes use of the clear mountain water to brew different beers in the northern French style, even though part of the process is carried out in the Ardeche.

If you do feel the need to escape, Gap is only 39km away.

Bon voyage!


En cliquant sur "Send", vous acceptez le fait que vos données inscrites ci-dessus seront utilisées par Frank Peters, Peters-Langues dans le but pour lequel ce formulaire a été mis en place. Aucune donnée ne sera utilisée dans un autre but, sans votre consentement éclairé, ni ne sera communiquée à un tiers. Vous pouvez à chaque instant demander l'accès, la modification ou la suppression de ces données en nous écrivant. /// Ich bin damit einverstanden, dass diese Website meine übermittelten Informationen speichert, damit sie auf meine Mitteilung antworten kann. /// I consent to having this website store my submitted information so they can respond to the exercise.

Tour de France, Stage 2 – Sisteron

Pearl of the Upper Provence

Text read by Mary Peters

Geneviève continues to guide us along the 2020 Tour de France.

Stage 2

Sisteron is about 240km north of Nice, situated in the Alpes de Haute Provence. It is known as the pearl of the Upper Provence. It is a medieval town with narrow streets (many too narrow for cars) lined with old houses, small squares with charming fountains. There is a cathedral, (Notre Dame des Pommiers, Our Lady of the Apple Trees). Take time to explore the interior, it is richly decorated. The altar, the golden statue and the baptistry are eye-catching. On the hilltop, you will find an imposing citadel. 

You start by visiting the Earth and Time Museum. Here you can see how time is told and measured in nature using unusual objects. You can also start the Time Trail from the museum.

From the town centre, climb up the hill to the citadel which towers over the Durance valley with the beautiful river. The fortification was in a strategic place between the Alps and the Mediterranean Sea. This monument was also a stronghold for the Counts of Provence. Today, it is a museum devoted to Napoleon and also horse-drawn carriages.

Let your curiosity guide you through some of the old streets and squares and discover the towers from the old fortifications, the Baume Rock directly behind the houses. Do not forget to have a look at the special roofs and the beautifully carved, wooden doors which are typical of the Provence. Walking along the Durance River, you have a beautiful view of the town.

The town also offers an arts festival in August and the Lamb’s Festival takes place during the Ascension Weekend.

Discover the surrounding area of Sisteron which offer a lot of possibilities. For example, you can drive to the tiny village Eourres and go on a donkey trek. You have the possibility to do a half-day trip to a weeklong trek, including camping or lodging.

There is an Extra Virgin Olive Oil producer at the Moulin Fortuné Arizzi. He suggests touring the mill, watching an educational film, visit his Eco-Museum and walk along the botanical trail. All free of charge.

Between Sisteron and Mont Ventoux you can find Thierry and Sylvie’s Lavender Distillery in Sault. You can watch the essential oil extraction which is done after the flowers have been dried in the sun. They work with both types of flowers (Lavender and Lavandin). They also recommend walking along the Lavender Trail.

If you want an adrenaline kick, why not go white water rafting or canyoning in Ubaye and the Gorges du Verdon. A professional team welcomes you and guides you to discover the spirit of adventure. 

For cyclists, let yourself be attracted by the spirit of the Tour de France and cycle up the Mont Ventoux. Have fun! 



En cliquant sur "Send", vous acceptez le fait que vos données inscrites ci-dessus seront utilisées par Frank Peters, Peters-Langues dans le but pour lequel ce formulaire a été mis en place. Aucune donnée ne sera utilisée dans un autre but, sans votre consentement éclairé, ni ne sera communiquée à un tiers. Vous pouvez à chaque instant demander l'accès, la modification ou la suppression de ces données en nous écrivant. /// Ich bin damit einverstanden, dass diese Website meine übermittelten Informationen speichert, damit sie auf meine Mitteilung antworten kann. /// I consent to having this website store my submitted information so they can respond to the exercise.

Tour de France 1 : Nice

Text read by Mary Peters

You missed this year’s Tour de France? Geneviève guides you along at a more leisurely pace.

Start at the Promenade des Anglais and soak up the town atmosphere. It is 7 km long and good for people watching. Located directly on the Mediterranean Sea it is a good start to discover Nice and the town life. It has a special flair.

Stop at the Musée Masséna, a local historical museum in the belle époque style where you can also see Napoléon’s death mask. At the western end is the Parc Phoenix. There is a huge greenhouse with tropical gardens and many different animals. Free for children, €3.00 per adult, a must for botany enthusiasts.

The old town: it is very compact with many alleys and extremely colourful with a slight Italian flair. There are many cafés and restaurants in the lively squares. Do not forget to try the local speciality, the “Salade Niçoise”. I recommend a city guide to discover details and the special history of the old town. Continue to the Colline du Château. You can use the elevator or can walk up the steep hill. The reward is a magnificent view over the Baies des Anges. (Bay of Angels) and the whole town.

Another place to discover is the Musée Marc Chagall.  He created the museum himself and we can admire his 17 most famous biblical paintings from the Old and New Testaments. If you have been inspired by these paintings, you should step through the door into the Baroque style Cathedral. It is unassuming (yet beautiful) outside, but magnificent inside. 

From there, visit the Cours Saleya Market (daily except Mondays, when it is a flea market). You can savour and explore many Provençal and Alpes Maritimes products. (Olives, honey, Provençal linen, pottery, plates made from olive wood, cheese and a huge choice of local fruit and vegetables.)

After discovering the city, have a relaxing time on the beach.

When the heart calls you, visit the Benedictine Monastery (Monastère de Cimiez) and its famous and also the oldest gardens (14th /15th century) in the Côte D’Azur.

If you have time, make a small, but worthwhile detour to Mont Boron and then Cap Ferrat.