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Valence is a dynamic city at the heart of which each season becomes an opportunity to see the places that give it such a special charm in a different light. The ‘Meridian Gate’ – as it is often called – is characterised by a gentle lifestyle and a beautiful, fascinating environment that shines in the dead of winter. The Little Venice has many waterside strolls to offer, along with fun activities and breathtaking sights even the low temperatures won’t stop you from enjoying. Let’s find out about all the best things to do in winter in Valence.
Located right at the heart of the city, our hotel in Valence is a great starting point to explore the streets where surprises await you at every turn. Strolling around the Parc des Trinitaires, near the Fabrique, will allow you to admire some stupendous examples of street art. Completely out of the ordinary and transient all at once, the drawings are always being renewed for a unique burst of colour every time you see them. The underside of the Lônes Bridge is also adorned with magnificent murals painted by one talented artist after another. Between the avenue Sadi Carnot and the avenue de la Marne, the Fresque des Valentinois, on the other hand, remains immutable. Its trompe l’oeil facade features such historical figures are Napoléon Bonaparte, the Dauphin Louis II, and Simon Antoine. Winter in Valence is clement and makes for the perfect opportunity to visit this genuine open-air museum.
Don’t miss out on the canals the city is so famous for. Since its very beginnings, water has always played an immense part in its activities, to the point that the name Valence even means ‘inhabited place with abounding water’. The nearby Rhône river branches out through the city in the form of over 10 miles of canals and 14 miles of small streams. These water passages are interspersed with hydraulic structures, former wash-houses, footbridges and fountains which all testify to a rich, river-bound history. The banks are the perfect place for a stroll during winter in Valence as the pathways that border them burst with natural beauty, where the local flora and fauna have been preserved for many years. Finally, why not hop on a boat to go down the canal and admire the surroundings from a different vantage point?
The Place des Clercs, which now houses a lively Saturday morning market where you will find countless regional delicacies, is another must-see. A central venue in the life of the city since the 5th century, this square even saw the execution of several well-known figures, including famous smuggler Louis Mandrin.
One cannot spend several days of winter in Valence without paying a visit to the architectural splendours that make up the city’s unforgettable cultural heritage. Saint Apollinaire’s Cathedral, for instance, is considered the oldest structure there that still stands today. Built in the 6th century and then destroyed during the French Wars of Religion, this structure was rebuilt a first time in the 17th century. It underwent repairs again in the 19th century after being hit by lightning on more than one occasion.
The city’s Art and Archaeology Museum is another firm favourite among those who spend their winter in Valence. Housing over 20,000 works of art divided between several fascinating, heterogenous sections, the place is well known for its selection of ancient artefacts and famous Dutch paintings. Another part of the building is dedicated to the history of the civilisations that took turns living in the Valence region. Don’t forget to visit the museum’s belvedere, which offers an amazing view of the entire area.
The Armenian Heritage Centre, inaugurated in 2005 before being modernised and expanded in 2018, tells the story of Armenia’s culture and people from the perspective of combating discrimination. The place raises awareness as to the crucial issues we face as a society.
The Maison des Tête – or House of Heads – is another building you won’t want to miss while enjoying a winter in Valence. The countless carved heads that adorn its exterior are what makes this mansion so famous. Built between 1528 and 1532, it is a great example of the period when the Gothic Style came to a close and opened up architectural tastes to that of the Renaissance. This sublime monument is well worth a visit.
The Fééries d’Hiver are a much-awaited celebration where winter in Valence takes on a completely different dimension, inviting locals and visitors alike to enjoy a moment of wonderment and Christmas magic. A magnificent Christmas tree, a fantastic sound and light show, and countless family-friendly activities make for an unforgettable event. Take an instant to admire the ice statues, snap a picture with Santa, take a turn on the Ferris Wheel or join the enchanted parade.
The beautiful city of Valence awaits you!