The south-east of France is a popular destination for millions of tourists from all over Europe, especially in summer. Anyone traveling in the Auvergne-Rhône-Alpes area should definitely make a detour to the municipality of Vallon-Pont-d’Arc.
Natural wonders in the French Grand Canyon
With the impressive natural stone bridge Pont d’Arc, about five kilometers from the 2,500-inhabitant town, travelers can expect a very special natural monument that should not be missed. The 60 meter long and 50 meter wide natural stone arch over the Ardèche River at the entrance to the Ardèche Gorge is not only the most famous stone bridge in southern France, but also the symbol of the Ardèche department. The spectacular stone formation was formed by the river over the past millennia. The water has gradually washed away the rock. The natural stone bridge is embedded in a beautiful landscape with a rich flora and fauna. There is a small beach right next to the Pont d’Arc,
Activities in the Ardèche Valley
In addition to beach holidaymakers, water sports enthusiasts, hikers and adventurers are also drawn to the bridge. The Chauvet Cave is located right next to the bridge, which is known far beyond the borders of the region. This is one of the largest cave painting sites in the world. The rock paintings, which were only discovered in the 1990s, are among the oldest paintings known to man.
Dune du Pilat
A natural jewel
In France, on Aquitaine’s Atlantic coast, there is a special natural gem. With an impressive height of up to 115 meters, the Dune de Pilat is the highest shifting dune in Europe. It runs along the Atlantic coast over a length of 2.7 kilometers. A piece of desert, framed by the deep blue sea and lush green forest.
Hike on the dune
The visitor can comfortably climb a staircase to the first summit and then walk freely through the sand, further along the dune ridge or even down to the sandy beach. The change of perspective always gives exciting, new views and impressive photo motifs. The wind is constantly reshaping the dune. It forms peaks and valleys and sometimes fine, fragile sand sculptures. That makes every trip to the Dune du Pilat a unique experience.
Breathtaking panorama on one of the most impressive beaches in France
The Dune de Pilat gets its special charm not only because of its unusual dimensions, but also from the view of the unique landscape in which it is embedded.
From the dune ridge you can look inland at the vast green of the Landes de Gascogne maritime pine forest. On the other side, the Atlantic stretches with the sandbank Banc d’Arguin near the coast. A nature reserve around Bordeaux stretches across the sandbank to the Arcachon basin. Study trips offer the opportunity to learn more about the formation of the shifting dune and the exciting diversity of nature in the changing tides.
An insider tip for all dune visitors are the spectacular sunsets that can be experienced from the sandy summit. A truly magical moment when the glowing sun sinks into the sea and the last rays bathe the dune in red-gold light.
Grasse is entitled “World Perfume Capital”
The French town of Grasse in the Alpes-Maritimes department owes its rise to an important perfume center primarily to the large water reservoir in the surrounding mountains. The first perfumeries were founded here on the Côte d`Azur, north of Cannes, around five hundred years ago. The plants whose flowers are needed for the production of the expensive scented water grow around Grasse: iris, oranges, mimosa, centifolia, jasmine and many others. Most of the thirty or so perfume companies based here keep a great secret about the production of these fine fragrances. The knowledge of perfume production in the Pays de Grasse was even included in the list of the intangible cultural heritage of humanity by UNESCO. Few of the local farmers and processors receive tourists and guide them through their business.
The Musée International de la Parfumerie is one of the main attractions of Grasse
During such a visit, the curious guests learn everything they need to know about the production of the noble fragrances. It starts with the harvest of the flowers, continues with the distillation and finally ends with the work of the perfumer, who can distinguish hundreds of scent nuances with his nose. If you want, you can buy one of the wonderful perfumes in the showroom at the end of the tour. Shopping in the factory is always much cheaper than in the store. One of the attractions in Grasse is the International Perfumery Museum. It is located in a mansion from the 18th century. The renovated building was effectively expanded with a futuristic glass extension.
Here, visitors to the museum can find out everything about the development of the perfume industry in Grasse. In addition to old flacons and bottles of all kinds are on display. Other sources of information are old posters, videos and smelling stations. There is also a lot on offer for the little guests: a scented garden, multimedia stations, a test of the sense of smell and a miniature perfumery from the 19th century.
Another tourist attraction is the Fragonard Museum. The fifteen most important works of the French painter Jean-Honoré Fragonard (1732-1806) are exhibited here. It is the second largest collection in France of paintings by the Grasse artist.