La Voulte sur Rhône
- Height: 95 meters.
- Population: 5077 inhabitants
- Name of the inhabitants: Voultain (e)
La Voulte sur Rhône is the administrative center of the territorial division country, located at the entrance to the Eyrieux valley. The town is built the last rocky foothills of les Boutières’ massif on the right border of the Rhône. Its name comes from the “Voltas”, the meanderings generated by the Rhône at the feet of the rock.
- Sunrise on the bridge of Marc Seguin
- (C. Fougeirol)
The history from La Voulte sur Rhône goes back to the mists of time. Its old village characteristic of the gothic era is built around the rock, like a snail. Tangled little streets and little fitted out places lead to the church and the castle staying at the top of the rock from where you will admire the whole valley.
The strong and massive castle keeps looking over the town and the valley. Built from the 13th to the 17th century, it was one of the biggest castles in Ardèche who served the kingdom, especially when the family of Levis de Ventadour in the 16th and 17th century. The castle was burnt in 1944 by the Germans as they bate in retreat.
The history of La Voulte sur Rhône is also tied to the smelting works run by the big company “La Voulte-Terre Noire-Bessèges” in the 19th century which converted the inn’s ore extracted on the heights of the town. The high stoves found in the Baboin park recall that glorious industrial past which came to an end in 1880 with the closing of the factory. In the 20th century, companies working the textile such as weaver and Rhône Poulenc Textile (RPT, which had 1200 employees in 1960) took over from the smelting works here. Since the closing of RPT in 1981, some new companies invested the old workshops and the others set up in the newly built activities’ areas.
La Voulte sur Rhône has also a rare paleontological site called La Boissine which was classed sensible natural space and listed among the 20 essential sites of the world. The rugby team of La Voulte sur Rhône is famous well beyond the departmental borders as it won France’s championship in 1970.
- Easter Monday: Jardissimo, garden’s party
- At the beginning of June: fair of the paleontology
- At the beginning of July: fair of the smelting works
- July 14th: fair and fireworks
- Wednesdays and Fridays in July and August: bandstands
- Summer: two nightly markets
- November: pig’s fair
- Friday morning: market
- Fourth Sunday of the month: flea market
- the castle by night
- (C. Fougeirol)
The Bermond d’Anduze family began to build the castle in the 14th century and Anne de Levis finished it in the 17th century. The mighty Levis family turned it into a luxurious residence. The castle became a house for beggars under Napoleon, and then it was bought later in the 19th century by the company of the smelting works and forges of Terrenoire, La Voulte, Bessèges and sheltered the headquarters of the company. The castle went through the centuries without being too much damaged until it was burnt at the end of the Second World War by the Germans and lost the last traces of its splendor. Nevertheless you’ll discover inside it a magnificent gate built along the Toscan style, the Gilbert III de Levis gate with its motto “Duris Duras Frango”, which means “I break hard things with harder ones” and of course its Chapelle des Princes listed as a historical monument of Renaissance style.
Guided tours are organized by the tourist office.
Departmental natural property of « La Boissine » Paleontological site internationally refereed (ENS site)
- Proteroctopus ribeti, octopode of Jurassic
- discovered at La Boissine in La Voulte (B. Riou)
This property is situated on the communes of La Voulte –sur-Rhône and Rompon and was purchased by the department of Ardeche in 2005 lecithin the framework of its politic favouring sensible natural spaces. The 30 hectares site shelters an old minor cop corn where an iron’s or of an exceptional quality. Was extracted on the 19th Century and internationally recognized fossil deposit. The fossil outcrops are found in the argyle shales laying between the layers along a geological fault. According to study, there 16 different habitats on the fossil site and its areas. The wild life here is also rich as there numerous species. As an example, 39 of them are protected by international conventions.
Studies are made a really entomologist and geologist to realize the inventory precise of the departmental natural property of La Boissine. On the paleontological level, the deposit of La Boissine is probably one of the rare sites in the world, or may be the only one who’s got a Jurassic wild life of a deep oceanic background, which gives key and new information on the biodiversity of the high depths in the Jurassic era. The General Council of Ardeche aims to protect this unique geological heritage, to get greater scientific knowledge and to master its opening to the public thanks to guided tours and educational works. Educational activities and a geological path are proposed since 2011, as well as a ‘’site’s house’’ to highlight these exceptional wealth. Today, the site is opened to the public only within the framework of particular days like the paleontology’s days on the first Sunday in June, the patrimony’s days in September and the science’s fair.