(article updated with new visits)
Its 17 assets that seduced me ...
Less than an hour from Lyon (heading south), between Vienne and Saint-Etienne, is the Pilat Regional Natural Park. A few months spent in this region were enough for me to fall in love with the places: varied landscapes, picturesque villages, quality gastronomy, and many outdoor activities. Something to seduce Lyonnais in need of getaways, or anyone else who needs a holiday in the countryside.
Here is my Top (tested and approved!) Of things to do or visit in the Regional Natural Park of Pilat. Follow the leader !
Varied hikes and landscapes
On foot, by bike, or on horseback, the park is ideal for a walk. Friends of nature and lovers of beautiful landscapes, you will be served. Here are some of my favorite hikes, to do solo or with the family.
The crests of Pilat or the Three Dents
For lovers of mountains and drops, this is THE spot to do absolutely! You will dominate the entire Pilat park, and if you climb to Crêt de la Perdrix (at 1430m above sea level), you will be able to enjoy an incredible 360 ° view over the Rhône valley, the Ardèche, and the Loire. Depending on your motivation, either you climb on foot (passing through beautiful forests), or a road can bring you closer and will avoid you the hardest part. On the way up, do not miss the peak of Trois Dents, a rocky promontory with an alpine character: after crossing a ridge, you will be entitled to a magnificent view, to see! I strongly advise you to take the opportunity to take your picnic break (just look at my photo below)
ℹ️ more photos and videos on my personal blog
The Couzon dam
If you are traveling with the family, this walk is ideal: a landscaped path, zero drop, not too long, and at the water's edge. In addition, you will have the opportunity to discover the oldest dam of Pilat, but especially one of the first in France: we see few like that. The fun and educational nature of this walk will only be a pretext to admire the beautiful surrounding landscapes and its green hills.
The Gouffre d'Enfer dam
Another dam giving rise to a beautiful hike: that of the chasm of hell, a dam over 150 years old (more info on its history). Just the name gives you goosebumps, but don't worry, you won't come here to scare yourself… unless you're dizzy! Because indeed, this walk is a little more sporty than the previous one: you will have to climb the steps to reach the top of the construction at 55 m in height. Apart from walking, the place also has a via ferrata course and a complete climbing site, advice to amateurs. So if you are passing near Saint-Etienne, I highly recommend this exceptional site! I let you discover my video:
Around Mont Monnet
Pilat Park is made up of hundreds of trails, and each time I took the road, a path called out to me… Through fields, forests, meadows, vineyards, or streams, most of these trails are practiced within sight of eye. I particularly walked around Mont Monnet, and I loved this place. I advise you particularly in the morning or late hours, allowing you to take advantage of this very special luminosity that the sun offers at these times.
And for the more courageous, you can take the famous pilgrimage route to reach Spain - yes, if you are really very courageous. For my part, I admit, we only made a very small portion, for the moment ...
Beautiful picturesque villages to visit
Along the winding roads, the natural park of Pilat is punctuated with villages of characters. I particularly invite you to take a break in these 4 places that I loved:
Surely the most original of the region, and the surroundings. Indeed, the village of Sainte-Croix-en-Jarez was above all a monastery. Founded in 1281, the monks were driven out during the French Revolution: it has been more than 200 years since the place was transformed into a municipality, and the religious buildings converted into dwellings. Village life continues today, creating a special and soothing atmosphere. It is THE village to visit in Pilat!
An ancient medieval city, the village of Malleval was built on the hillside more than 900 years ago. Old stone houses in the region and rocky cliffs sometimes seem to become one. At the end of a winding road, you will therefore have the opportunity to discover a village of character, with a very special soul, and which is full of mysteries ...
Capital of the Regional Natural Park, Pélussin is a small town full of charm. It is in the district of Virieu that it is good to stroll. To see: the medieval castle, the old market hall (with a beautiful view of the valley), the winding alleys with stone houses, the water basin and its green space to rest. It is also here that you will find the Maison du Pilat which will give you all the tourist information on the park and things to visit in the region, in a pleasant setting.
Less well-known, but just as pleasant, the village of Saint-Julien-Molin-Molette invites you to stroll. The reconversion of the old industrial district and its large silk factories is successful: artists' studios have taken the place, giving the place an atypical mix of genres. I advise you to end your visit by going through the brewery of craft beers (and organic): you will then have the opportunity to discover the facilities while enjoying a wide range of beers, each just as good one on the other (j 'have a personal preference for' La Grande Marée 'and' La Mad Max ')
- Brasserie website: http://www.brasseriedupilat.com/
But it's not just beer in Pilat ...
The quality terroir
In the Parc du Pilat, I also had the opportunity to eat well and taste quality wines!
A production of renowned wines
Condrieu, Côte-Rôtie, Viognier, so many grape varieties and appellations recognized to make the Parc du Pilat a destination for lovers of good wines. You will thus have the opportunity to create an oenological stay: tour of the winegrowers, tastings, or quite simply walks through the vineyards… Do not miss the large wine market, which takes place each year in January in Ampuis.
Specialties on the table
While strolling in the natural park, you will come across a good number of pastures and farms, where the animals come to graze in peace without being overcrowded in their enclosure. Important details that make all the difference in producing tasty meats and quality cold cuts. Pilat cheeses are also in the spotlight, especially goats with a beautiful emblem: the Rigotte de Condrieu.
Orchards are not lacking either, and the apple is a worthy representative with its point of honor: the apple festival, which takes place every year in Pélussin.
Here is an original idea to discover the park while pleasing your taste buds: get on a moped (can be rented here) and go to meet the producers of the region for a gastronomic journey around local products ... it gives water to the mouth is not it? ?
I let you discover this beautiful experience with my video, or write down the full itinerary in my more detailed article here.
Visits and activities in Pilat
You won't necessarily come to Pilat if you have a great thirst for ultra-trendy cultural offers or electro evenings. On the other hand, there is no shortage of outdoor activities ...
The tree climbing
Through forest adventure courses, you will have the opportunity to dominate the natural park, finding your balance between zip lines, monkey bridges, Tarzan lianas, etc. A fun way to get into harmony with nature, with courses adapted to each age and level. What to do if you don't have vertigo!
The mountain scooter
Sliding or wheeled sports enthusiasts, here is an original activity that guarantees great sensations, and this in the heart of the abundant nature of the Park: the mountain scooter. Accompanied by Valérie, a nature lover and great sportswoman at heart, you will follow the descents through forests and peerages, while taking a few breaks to admire the landscape or to pick up a few blueberries (depending on the season). Before leaving, you will have the choice between several courses according to your level or your expectations. And after a quick briefing and a few practical tests on your machine, it's time for adrenaline: for more than 1h30 (depending on the route), you will hurtle down the slopes on your scooter.Mountain scooter in the heart of Pilat
Halfway between the sensations of mountain biking and those of skiing, it is pure happiness to slalom between the trees! Personally, I loved it! For young children, and depending on their age and abilities, Valérie can also take them on her scooter: they will be able to enjoy the sensations without having to deal with the technical side of this sport.
Come on, I'm still testing for you with this adrenaline-fueled experience: paragliding ?. Pilat Park is the perfect spot for a first jump: there is relief, but not too much. And above all, whatever the place of take-off, you will benefit from exceptional panoramas: whether it is on the valley of the Rhône or the Ardèche, or on the plateau of the Haute-Loire, you will have something to see! My video for proof:
The Living Waters
Downstream from the park, at the foot of the Saint-Pierre-de-Boeuf dam, the whitewater area offers a secure course (artificial river) for rafting, whitewater swimming, kayaking or canoeing. You choose …
ℹ️ Site: http://espaceeauxvives.com/espace-eaux-vives/
For the less adventurous, visiting the Gallo-Roman Museum of Saint-Romain-en-Gal (opposite Vienne) will transport you to the past. Point of honor in June with the Gallo-Roman days: a good opportunity to revise its history in a fun way, to experience the life of yesteryear, and to relive the great battles between Gauls and Romans… We loved it!
ℹ️ site: http://musee-site.rhone.com/
What else in Pilat?
Even in winter, Pilat remains an attractive destination: the snow-covered landscapes are just as attractive, it is easier to enjoy sunrises or sunsets ... and as you know, you can also ski in Pilat (at the small resort of Croix de Chaubouret ).
I hope that this small selection of places will give you some ideas for discovering and visiting this natural park less than an hour from Lyon. But if you have the time, I also advise you to follow your feeling: explore, get lost, enjoy, and that's how you will discover lots of surprises ...