La Drôme Provençale is the frontier between the Dauphiné and Provence. From Valence onwards, as you head South, the lavender and sunflower fields, the olive groves, the evergreen oaks and cypress trees extend beyond the horizon. You have arrived in La Drôme Provençale! Montélimar, capital of nougat production welcomes you.
Here the climate is more Mediterranean and the lilting accents of the people follow suit. In the 'garrigues' (Mediterranean vegetation) you can hear the cicadas and the bells on the herds of goats and flocks of sheep. On the road to Buis-les-Baronnies and Montbrun-les-Bains, a soft breeze stirs the scent in the aromatic plants: the scent of lavender, thyme, rosemary and also sage, verbena, coriander, basil, green aniseed and peppermint; enough to perfume the whole of France.
Here, whatever the season, you can follow many kilometres of way-marked paths, on foot, by bike, on horseback or on a donkey. Up in the air, as much as with your feet in the water, there are a multitude of activities which will help you discover the beauty of La Drôme Provençale.
Wine and good food in Drôme Provençale
When it comes to food you will discover that the 'terroir' (agriculture) of this area is generous indeed.
At Nyons you will find la Tanche, a fine black olive (AOC) which makes a tempting nibble and also produces a subtle and fruity oil. Each summer at Buis-les-Baronnies, the lime tree harvest is in full swing whilst in winter the black truffle exudes its perfume on the town market at Saint-Paul-Trois-Châteaux.
There are also goat cheeses, including the renowned Picodon (AOC), lavender honey and fruit gorged with sunshine. Apricots ('Orangé de Provence' variety), peaches, cherries and plums cover the highly coloured market stalls. Have you tasted the garlic from the 'plaines de la Valdaine' (lightly sweet in taste) and the savoury and crunchy 'petit épeautre' (einkorn) of Haute Provence ?
Do we even need to sing the praises of the Côtes du Rhône wines, the Vinsobres vintages, the vinyards of Grignan-les-Adhémar and the Coteaux des Baronnies, the wines of the Valdaine and the Comté de Grignan?
The art of living in Drôme Provençale
A Veritable land of charm, La Drôme Provençale is strewn with listed, hilltop and botanical villages. The département boasts 4 of the 'plus beaux villages de France' : La Garde-Adhémar, Le Poët-Laval and Montbrun-les-Bains are in La Drôme Provençale, and the fourth, Mirmande, is in the Drôme valley.
All successful visits benefit from patience and love. Idle in the villages, discover castles, churches, chapels and abbeys along the way. Each of these monuments, large or small is worthy of a halt.
Take the byways and meet some of the men and women who live here: craft potters, wood carvers, glass blowers, upholsterers, blacksmiths; many are those who will open their doors to share their craft with you.
Take a seat now at one of the terraces of the many shaded cafés. Under a lime tree, with a glass of rosé (chilled and to be drunk in moderation), it may look like a postcard scene but it is real enough.
La Drôme Provençale is without a doubt a land of 'l'art de vivre', a small corner of paradise.