Almost 800 kilometers long, from its source in the Swiss Alps to its mouth in the Mediterranean Sea, the Rhône is a powerful and majestic river. It wrote the stories of our towns and villages, such as Bourg-Saint-Andéol or Viviers. It also helped their expansion with the fluvial trades that started in the Middle age. Despite the many changes made by the man to try to tame it, the Rhône always get back to its natural aspect.
The wild Rhône is a home for beavers, otters and orchids.
What is called the “old Rhône” defined the ancestral track of the Rhône River and not the canalized parts. Between Viviers and Saint-Just-d’Ardèche, the riversides and the lônes (old branches of the river) house wild and preserved spaces full of animals and astonishing plants. The island of Rousette and its lône upstream from Viviers shelter colonies of beavers, kingfishers and more than 30 species of dragonflies. Downstream from this island, after the Donzére dam, the cormorants’ Island, the Touzellaz lône, and the Roselière are places appreciated by the migratory birds. Many species such as Hrons, Black kites, Buzzards, storks, ducks, gulls and aigrettes, stop there and nest all year long. These sites are protected by the Biotope. In the water, there are also a lot of species of fishes and the water quality gets a lot better: A good place for fishermen!
The Mediterranean climate starts here
The Donzère defilé, this big cliff plunging into the Rhône used to show the limit between the Mediterranean worlds and the semi-continental area. The site is protected, especially for the Eagle Owl. To protect this species a classification process is set up in order to transform this site into a protected area. According to naturalists, the climate, the fauna and the flora are really different when we passed this area from the north to the south. After you passed the “Olive tree border”, you will see the fly of a roller, or to watch the Montpellier snake in the shrub oak forest or the sweet scents of Garrigue. Welcome into the south!
The Viarhôna, an ideal green way made to enjoy the river.
The best way to discover and enjoy the Rhône may be found under your pedals!
Nothing is easier to access the riversides and observe this natural area than riding your bike or putting your shoes on to go on the ViaRhôna. The cycling track lunging the river from Leman to the sea, allows you to enjoy the Rhône and its landscapes dug through the time. It crosses our territory on 15km from Viviers to Bourg-Saint-Andéol. Discovery of the “Robinet Bridge” (a historical monument), exploration of the lônes, passing on the old towpath… All these places are unmissable stops during your trip. The old Rhône can also be discovered on canoes or barks (except for the passage of the Donzère dam when you will have to walk 1.2 km to avoid the structure). We advise you to be accompanied. Some trips are organized each summer from Bourg-Saint-Andéol and its canoe club. “Itinéraires Vivarais” also offers trips with bicycle and canoe at the beginning of the Rochemaure Bridge. (More information at the tourist information office).