L'Ardèchoise - The most atmospheric one
2017 – It was Marie-Claire who picked up this race a couple of years ago. We selected other challenges in 2014 and 2015 and no big plans in 2016. However, in 2017 we took the challenge to ride this famous race. Moreover, a lot of our friends were interested as well, and it lead to a group travel with 10 friends in a nice location just outside the center of Saint-Félicien.
We started our trip on Friday afternoon and went for the weekend towards Luxeuill-les-Bains to ride Les Trois Ballons. From there we continued our jouney on Sunday noon towards Saint-Félicien. It was a very enjoyable week in the companion of good friends. Having barbecues on the terrace, drink a beer at the pool side and off course ride the famous L’Ardechoise on Saturday.
On Monday and Friday we rode 2 small recovery rides. The one on Monday to recover from Les Trois Ballons and the one on Friday to save ourselves for the Saturday. Below you can find our Strava tracks for the week:
On Wednesday you have the L’Ardechoise Verte which is a ride of about 97 km in the North direction. This was double interesting as it explored another region than the race on Saturday. The other thing is that all villages are prepared for this and make a real fest of it. They offer free snacks and drinks and decorate their village, school or wherever they are standing. You can expect every few kilometer a stop and at some moment in time we just started to skip few of them. The atmosphere is incredible an according to us it’s a must do activity if you are there for the week. A special mentioning goes to our friend Filip who never bikes but road the entire trip on a mountainbike. Respect!
Learned about this palace back in 4th grade in French lessons at school. Did not pay too much attention at it at that time, but it is impressive. You can enter the building and go up some parts. There is also a small museum with more details. It’s hard to imagine the guy really built this with stones he found during his work. We strongly recommend to visit this place. Next doors you find some cosy terraces where you can have a cool drink after the visit.
This is something you have to like, otherwise this might not be your cup of tea. Tom kinda likes these kind of attractions so we visited it. It’s not that big the park, but still it took us over an hour to check it all out. There is a cafetaria where you can buy a drink or an ice cream. Certainly with kids this might be a fun thing to do.
On Thursday we went for kayak in Vallon-Pont-d’Arc. We had splendid weather so we could refresh ourselves in the water. We kayaked for about 2 hours for the distance of 11.5 km. You have longer distances, but as we were not that early, those distances were no longer available. But to be honest, we were glad it was done after a little more than 2 hours. So we advise you to think twice if you want to go for a longer distance. Strava track: Kayak – 11.5 km
The advantage of L’Ardèchoise is that you have plenty of distances and you can decide during the race itself what distance you take. This is very convenient when you subscribe in winter for a race in summer. You never know how good condition will be. Some our friends rode 80 km, somebody else did 175 and myself I rode the original distance with 220 km. Marie-Claire selected 232 km and won that race.
For the shorter distances there is again a lot of atmosphere at the side of the road. People are cheering, providing drinks and food. So ideally if you ride the race without time challenge. The folklore is only for the shorter distances as in the villages further away from Saint-Félicien there is no decoration or drinks available. The race is quite hard as it’s above 200 km and above 4000 meter of elevation. If you participate to these kind of races, you need a decent preparation because if you lack that, the day will even be harder.
The house we rented exists out of 2 buildings. The main building with 4 bedrooms and a second building with 2 more bedrooms. It has a fully equipped kitchen in both of the houses, but we only used the one in the main building. You have a terrace for barbecues and off course the perfect swimming pool with beds and a great view. We spend quite some hours in the swimming pool during our visit. The house is perfect when the weather is great, like it was during our visit. However, we think, when the weather is bad, the house is a bit cold and murky. When it’s hot outside it is refreshing inside. It is very close to the city center so it has a perfect location when you want to participate to the race. We strongly recommend this place.