Travel Spotlight: Nyons, France
Every August, nearly the entire country of France goes on vacation. It’s a national sport, and it’s one of the most fabulous perks of living the French life.
Spending these precious few weeks of vacation involves some strategy. So many picturesque places, so little time! We always spend at least one week in Nyons, a charming town in France’s Drome region. Nyons is completely unknown to international tourists, and most French people haven’t even heard of it. But I’ll let you in on our family secret…
Nyons is a summertime dream destination, with a dry Mediterranean climate and lively town center, surrounded by hills covered in olive groves — olive oil is Nyons’ culinary claim to fame. Every Thursday morning, there’s a traditional market in the centre ville and throughout the summer they host ancient book fairs, flea markets, outdoor concerts, and more. There’s tons going on, and August is a prime time to visit and make the most of all the cultural happenings.
Getting to Nyons
From Paris, take the train to Montelimar (~3 hrs), then transfer to the bus to Nyons town center (~1 hr). By car, it’s about a 7 hour drive to Nyons from Paris, so public transport is definitely more efficient — and you can order a drink and enjoy the view!
Where to Stay
Renting a vacation home (with a pool, ideally) will be your best bet. There aren’t many hotels in town, and the ones that exist are pretty outdated. Here’s some suggestions for finding vacation rentals in France. Remember to book early if you plan to visit in August, when literally every French family is on vacation and the good spots get booked fast.
Try to stay near the centre ville, so you can easily enjoy the markets, concerts, and commerce.
Things to do in Nyons
Nyons is an ideal walking town, with lots of trails, parks and gardens to stroll through, like the Jardin des Arômes — a botanical garden stretching along the banks of the Eygues river, with over 180 species of Provential plants. So lovely, and stoller-friendly too.
The old town & Pont Roman (Roman bridge) are stunning, especially at dusk. The central plaza, Place du Docteur Bourdongle, is surrounded by arcades and boutiques; a must-visit during the Thursday morning market. For families and kids, there’s a new waterpark right downtown.
Walk the Sentier des Oliviers, a 90-minute walking trail loop that takes you through olive groves covering the hills around Nyons. The trail starts in the town center, and isn’t too strenuous. Best to do early morning or at dusk.
Stop by La Vinaigrerie for artisan vinegars, Nyon’s famous olive oil, and local wine. I always buy a big bag of “tanche” olives (buttery and slightly bitter) and some honey and lavendar vinegars.
The best part about vacationing in Nyons is settling into the slow rhythm of French summer life. Feeling the warm evening breeze, strolling the cobbled streets with an artisan ice cream in hand, or having a glass of rosé while watching sky turn a matching shade of pink is my definition of vacation à la francaise.
Thanks for reading! Have a favorite “secret” French vacation spot? I’d love to hear in the comments below.