Set off from the former station of Le Cheylard, the starting point of La Dolce Via, towards Saint-Martin-de-Valamas for a 7km warm-up. On leaving Riotord tunnel, take time to gaze on the remains of Château de Rochebonne, which stands sentinel over the valley. Saint-Martin-de-Valamas is an ideal place to recuperate your strength. Then it’s back in the saddle to start the ascent towards the Ardèche plateau. All along the 17km to Saint-Agrève, viaducts and tunnels enable you to traverse this unspoiled valley with its outstanding views. On arrival at Saint-Agrève, make for L’Agrivoise brasserie for a well-earned drink – with moderation, of course! (check the opening times here: http://www.lagrivoise.fr/). There are numerous possibilities for overnight accommodation, from the cosy but conventional to accommodation with a difference.
After taking in the morning panorama, return to La Dolce Via for a magical descent into the valley, effortlessly putting the kilometres behind you. Take advantage of the numerous picnic areas along your route for a restful break. On arrival at Saint-Martin-de-Valamas, cross the bridge to stop off at the Atelier du Bijou jewellery museum (and the tourist office) to find out about the origins of jewellery-making in the valley in the first factory, built in 1868. Back at Le Cheylard, park your bike and walk to Château de la Chèze to take advantage of the beautiful point of view. Then back to your accommodation, indicated by the Accueil Vélo (cycle tourism) sign.
After breakfast, here you are once again on La Dolce Via, heading in the direction of Lamastre. For your final day, you leave the landscapes of the Eyrieux Valley behind to explore another arm of La Dolce Via, along a gently ascending route to the village of Les Nonières. After the imposing viaducts and tunnels and a final effort, a refreshing break awaits you. When you emerge from the tunnel of Les Nonières (320 metres long), which offers a sensation of timelessness, you have another 12km to go before Lamastre, where you can take advantage of shady terraces for an enjoyable lunch. Take a gentle stroll through the streets of Lamastre and visit the station of the steam train, the Mastrou, before returning to Le Cheylard along La Dolce Via. As you following the curving path, you can admire magnificent views of the Ardèche mountains (Mount Gerbier de Jonc, Mount Mézenc).
After three days of exploration and exercise, your holiday has come to a close. Peace of mind and plenty of beautiful memories are yours!
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