671km (416 miles) SE of Paris; 100km (62 miles) S of Lyon
Follow the Rhône river south from Lyon and you’ll reach this grey market town whose identity is now inextricably linked to its star attraction: Anne-Sophie Pic, France’s only female three-star Michelin chef. A former Roman colony, it later became the capital of the Duchy of Valentinois, set up by Louis XII in 1493 for Cesare Borgia. Today Valence is a market town and distribution point for Rhône Valley fruit and vegetable producers. It’s fitting that François Rabelais, who wrote of gargantuan appetites, spent time here as a student. Valence is a convenient day trip from Vienne or stopover on your way further South to Provence.