Montelimar Tourist Attractions
Ardeche RiverMontélimar lies not far to the east of the Rhône, which is dammed in this section, some 150km/93mi south of Lyon. The River Roulion flows past the town center.Montélimar, which derives its name from its castle (Mont Adhémar), is known for its nougat industry, which uses locally grown almonds and honey from Provence. The confectionery comes in many varieties, hard or soft, white or colored, "normal" or in various flavors or "perfumes": vanilla, honey, lavender. Shops selling it are to be found on Allées Champs de Mars and Boulevard A. Briand (ring-road, parking loting).
To the east of the old town of Montelimar rises the castle, built by the powerful Adhémar family in the 12th C. From 1340 to 1383 the castle, together with the town, came into the possession of the Popes, who were responsible for enlarging it. In the 16th century it formed the northeast corner of the fortified town. From 1791 the castle was used as a prison (until 1926) - a role which it had fulfilllled on and off since the 15th C. Still preserved are the massive square Tour de Narbonne, the donjon (keep), logis (tower with living quarters) and the St Pierre chapel, probably the oldest building in the complex, which displays the early Southern French Romanesque style (11th century) and has 14th C. frescos in its main apse.From its terraces and tower the castle offers a vantage point; in the north the cooling towers of the atomic power station at Cruas on the Rhône can be seen.
The Rhône Dam was constructed to the north of Bollène on an arm of the Rhône between the two villages of Donzère and Mondragon (between Montélimar and Orange) and this gives the area its name.
Between Donzère (in the north) and Mondragon (in the south) the 28km/13mi-long Canal de Donzère avoids a very narrow stretch of the Rhône, into which flow the rivers Conche and Ardèche.The Ursine de Collène, one of the river power stations, lies not far north of the village of the same name. As well as the buildings housing the turbines, it includes a lock for canal traffic. The construction, which was completed in 1952, is 240m/788ft long and 15m/49ft high. On the downstream side a road crosses the canal and on the west side of this there is a parking lot. The interior of the power station is not open to the public.A short way downstream from Bollène there is a very good view of the canal from the suspension bridge, across which runs road D994 to St Esprit.
Nuclear Power Station
About 2km/1.5mi north of the dam at Donzère-Mondragon lies the Complexe Eurodif, a diffusion plant for the enrichment of uranium, together with its associated installations. Its capacity is sufficient to produce some 25% of the world demand for enriched uranium and it is therefore of great importance for the economic development of the Tricastin area. Eurodif is a joint project of Belgium, France, Italy and Spain.The four heavy water reactors of the Tricastin nuclear power station, each with a capacity of 900 MW, produce over 20 million kilowatt hours of electricity annually.
Ardeche (Gorges de l'Ardeche)
The Ardèche is a tributary on the right bank of the Rhône, which it joins near Pont St-Esprit, about 100km/66mi north of the Mediterranean coast.
The Ardèche, which has a total length of 120km/75mi, rises at a height of 1,467m/4,815ft in the area of Vivarais on the eastern edge of the Massif Central. It drops steeply in its upper course.The most impressive reach of the river from the point of view of scenery is between Vallon-Pont d'Arc and Pont St-esprit, a stretch which is also designated as the "Gorges de l'Ardèche". The following description is confined to this part of the river, which is about 30km/17mi long as the crow flies. The scrub and bushes - the "garrigue" - which cover a large part of the higher slopes are extremely dry in summer and, therefore, fire is always a danger. Because of the extensive nature of the area and its lack of paths these fires are practically impossible to fight. Visitors should be extremely careful with naked flames and avoid discarding lighted matches, cigarettes etc.
Ardèche River Boat Trips
Boats can be hired at many places on the road which follows the Ardèche river. Canoeing down the Ardèche is a popular sport, sometimes unfortunately leading to overcrowding. Occasionally there are rapids in the river; also when there is heavy rainfall the water level can rise rapidly by several meters. For these two reasons boating is advised only for experienced canoeists. During the high season in May and June there are very many boats on the river, which tend to spoil it as a place of natural beauty.
Gorges de l'Ardèche - Circular Tour through the Gorges de l'Ardèche
The Circular Tour of Gorges de l'Ardèche is an incredibly scenic trip, past open vistas and karst caves, including the famous Aven d'Orgnac. Tourists out for a day of sightseeing will want to leave plenty of time for the tour.
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