The gateway to the South of France, Valence is located in the department of Drôme, within the Rhodanian corridor between Lyon and Avignon. A listed City of Art and History, it began to develop in Roman times on the left bank of the Rhône.
Canals run through the southern city of Valence, which has many attractions to delight visitors. The old city centre is the realm of shopping, with its pedestrian streets, but it's also the place to learn about the city's history: its oldest monument, dating from the 11th century and a listed Historic Monument, is the Cathedral of St. Apollinaire, with its polychrome decorations. There is also the Pendant (Pendentif), a funeral monument dating back to the Renaissance; the 16th-century House of Heads with its numerous carved heads, reflecting the shift from Flamboyant Gothic to the Renaissance, where a permanent exhibition tells the story of the city; and the 12th-century Church of St. John and its 19th-century Neo-Romanesque porch tower; the Museum of Valence, Art and Archaeology, based in the former episcopal palace next to the cathedral, with its exceptional collections, temporary exhibitions, garden and belvedere offering a superb 360° view.
Also worth a look is the Moorish house for its 19th-century architecture inspired by Orientalism, the monumental fountain by Eugène Poitoux, the 16th-century Dupré-Latour house, the 13th-century Draper's house, the Capuchins' chapel, and the Armenian Heritage Centre with its interactive exhibition "In the footsteps of Valence residents of Armenian origin".
When it comes to gardens, a little trip to the Esplanade du Champ de Mars is a must. There you will find the listed bandstand made famous by Peynet's cartoon, Les Amoureux. Likewise, the unmissable Jouvet Park, which has over 700 rare trees and will also appeal to children with its little train, merry-go-rounds, animal park and rose garden.
To make the most of the city's many canals, there are marked paths for pleasant walks in the shade of the poplars and willows.
Good to know: Valence marina is France's number one river port. It is located within the Epervière park, which has a range of leisure facilities.