A couple of weeks ago we wrote about all of the incredible cycling routes in the region around Les Beaux Chênes. La Drome, where we are based, is an incredibly beautiful part of France and one that ideally suited to cycling and hiking. The region is still relatively unknown to tourists (even French ones!) so the roads and hiking trails are quiet.
While the stunning and varied landscape means that the 120 + hiking trails have something for every level of hiker and for every taste. We’ve chosen five of our favourite local walks and hiking routes:
1. Le Poët-Célard
Starting point: Les Beaux Chênes or Le Poët-Célard depending on how long you’d like to hike for!
Difficulty: Take it as quickly or a slowly as you like on this easy-going hike through the sunflower fields surrounding Les Beaux Chênes! Families or guest slooking for a nice, relaxing hike can drive to Le Poët-Célard and then explore the village and castle. Or for a longer hike, you can set off right from the gîte! Set off in the morning with a packed lunch and find a lovely, shady spot near the beautiful castle in Le Poët-Célard for a picnic.
Distance: 4-5 kilometres round the village and castle or 20 kilometres round-trip from Les Beaux Chênes.
Estimated duration: 1.5 hours up to 5 hours
Highlights: The medieval castle! The castle at Poët-Célard dates back to 1278 and has stunning views of the Saou forest and surrounding countryside. Take a tour around the imposing building to find out all about the rich history of this area. The Taverne du Château also serves food and drinks on the terrace just next to the castle.
Distance from Les Beaux Chênes: Leave directly from the gîte or drive 15 minutes up the road to Le Poët-Célard.
2. Bourdeaux to Mornans
Starting point: Bourdeaux
Difficulty: A lovely, gentle walk through fields, perfect for a leisurely hike and a picnic.
Distance: 9.5 kilometres
Estimated duration: 3 hours round trip
Highlights: Bourdeaux is a beautiful perched stone village that looks out over Couspeau mountain and the rolling hills around the Roubion river. And Mornans is a tiny village of just 53 inhabitants, but it has an impressive 16 metre high old stone tower. The tower is free to walk up and gives you an incredible 360 degree view.
Distance from Les Beaux Chênes: This family-friendly hike is just a quick 20 minute drive to Bourdeaux from the gite. Plus you can stop off at Le Poët-Célard on the way back to see the castle and picturesque old village.
3. Les Trois Becs
Starting point: La Chaudière
Difficulty: This is a definitely more of a hike than a walk but it’s also not too difficult that a family or a hiking beginner couldn’t handle it.
Distance: 8.8 kilometres
Estimated duration: 4.5 – 5 hours
Highlights: The magnificent panoramic view of La Drome from the top of the hike at Pas de la Motte.
Distance from Les Beaux Chênes: 40 minutes drive to the starting point La Chaudière.
4. Saracen Caves and the ruins in Béconne
Starting point: Béconne
Difficulty: This is a fairly easy going hike with only a few uphills and downhills. Mostly you will wander through lavender fields and parts of the Saou forest.
Distance: 7 kilometres
Estimated duration: 3 hours
Highlights: The Saracen caves are a remarkable remnant of medieval history. The underground galleries were used for storage, and in some cases, to live in. There are only a few galleries wide enough and high enough to walk into now, but you can still reach a section that served as an old water reservoir. The ruins in Béconne are equally fascinating and date back to the 13th century.
Distance from Les Beaux Chênes: Béconne is an hour’s drive from Les Beaux Chênes, on the edge of the Vercors Regional Park. We recommend stopping at the neighbouring town of Die on your way back so that you can reward yourself with a glass of the locally made Clairette de Die, a sweet, sparkling wine similar to Cava.
5. The Grand Veymont
Starting point: Saint-Agnan-en-Vercors
Difficulty: This route is best for experienced walker who are happy with uphill and downhill hikes and a full day’s walking.
Distance: 20.20 kilometres
Estimated duration: 8 hours
Highlights: This is a truly memorable long hike across the Vercors highlands to the Grand Veymont (The Mont Blanc of La Drome at 2341m high!). All along your walk you will have breathtaking views of the Vercors regional park and Mont Aiguille. The higher you get, the more likely you are to see mountain goats as well! The final view from Grand Veymont is spectacular taking in the whole valley and making this surely one of the best hikes in the whole region.
Distance from Les Beaux Chênes: Saint-Agnan-en- Vercors is an 1.5 hour drive away from Les Beaux Chênes up into the Vercors Regional Park. Although this hike requires more planning and is a bit more of a drive away, the scenery both on the drive and on the walk is spectacular and well worth the effort. A must for more experienced hikers who are looking for a challenge and some breathtaking views.