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The doorstep to the south

Cities in the region

Last updated date : 19/01/2023

Just one hour and fifteen minutes from Lyon on the A7 motorway, Valence is on the doorstep to the south of France. Offering nature, food and culture, the capital of the Drôme is a charming place to visit.

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With an excellent geographical location, Valence offers a great diversity of outdoor activities and gastronomic richness. Here are our recommendations for things not to miss during a stay in Valence.

Town centre

Begin your stay with a visit to the food market on Place des Clercs, a large public square in the centre of Valence, to discover local produce from the surrounding area, such as apricots, peaches, walnuts and 'La Caillette' (Thursday and Saturday from 7:30 am to 12:30 pm). After browsing the market, take a stroll through the town centre’s many pedestrian streets, making your way to the Esplanade du Champ de Mars and its famous Kiosque Peynet. Dear to the heart of locals since 1942, this pavilion is surrounded by fountains and green spaces. From here, you can see the magnificent Parc Jouvet, the town’s green lung, with more than 700 trees spread out over seven hectares.

Take a walk past the canals, trees and ornamental lakes for a pleasant moment surrounded by greenery right in the town centre. After this well-deserved break, head to the Place des Ormeaux where you can discover the town’s oldest building, Cathédrale Saint-Apollinaire, , which was built in 1095 by Pope Urban II. Standing next to the cathedral, visit the Musée de Valence, Art et Archéologie, to explore more than 1500 exhibits, which take visitors on a journey back through the history of humanity and civilizations in the Drôme and the middle Rhône Valley.

To continue to explore local culture, the Maison des Têtes is less than five minutes’ walk away. Take time to admire the façade, which marks the transition from Gothic to Renaissance style. Inside, the permanent exhibition 'Valence, Ville d’Art et d’Histoire' tells the story of how the town has evolved over time.

Outdoor activities

With its pleasant climate, the locals here like to make the most of nature and we can see why! Here is a little recap of the best activities to make the most of the southern sun.

  • Take a bike ride along the ViaRhôna to discover the biggest river marina in France - Le Port de l'Epervière.
  • Take a walk along one of the many sign-posted paths, such as the "Circuit des Canaux", which runs alongside the town's waterways, to observe a whole world of exceptional fauna and flora right in the town centre.
  • Walk up to the Château de Crussol to enjoy a panoramic view over the whole of Valence and the Rhône Valley. You can also discover the ruins of the castle, unique for the richness of their history and setting.
  • Have a picnic in Parc Jouvet.
  • Enjoy an afternoon out horse riding, fishing or climbing trees at an ‘accrobranche’ adventure park, all just a few kilometres from Valence.

Culinary specialties

The region around Valence boasts many culinary specialties, which are all highly appreciated by locals and tourists. These include ‘La Pogne’, ‘Le Suisse’, ‘Les Ravioles’ and ‘La Caillette’.

La Pogne has been made since the Middle Ages. Originally from Romans, it is now very popular throughout the surrounding region. A loaf made with flour, leaven, sugar, butter, eggs and traditionally flavoured with orange blossom, La Pogne can be eaten throughout the year, but is produced most during Easter. You can buy a pogne in one of Valence’s many bakeries. 

More than 200 years old, Le Suisse is a shortbread biscuit that is very well known and liked in Valence. It is shaped like a little puppet and flavored with candied orange peel and orange blossom. It can be eaten at any time of day and goes particularly well with a cup of tea or coffee.

If you only try one specialty while you’re in Valence, La Raviole surely has to be it. A pasta that is also originally from Romans, La Raviole now has a ‘Protected Geographical Indication’, which covers five cantons: Romans-sur-Isère, Bourg-de-Péage, Pont-en-Royans, St Marcellin and St-Jean-en-Royans. It can be eaten au gratin, in a salad or even by itself.

Lastly, it would be a shame to visit Valence and not taste La Caillette, a little pâté made with pork meat and finely chopped herbs. La Caillette can be eaten cold or hot with a slice of fresh bread.

For further information about this destination, visit the Valence & Romans Tourist Office’s website.