Wild France with Ray Mears

The Ardeche

Series 1 - Episode 2 The Ardeche



“It’s a place I’ve been visiting for many years, ” says Ray Mears as he surveys the landscape of the Ardèche, before adding slightly confusingly, “and I can’t wait to explore it.” Presumably he, like most tourists, has previously stuck to the gorge and the riverside rather than striking out into the limestone hills. But it’s here he discovers “other worldly” rock formations and magical underground grottoes full of helictites before returning to the river to observe a beaver casually grooming itself.

Best of all he tells us why Smurfs are blue – it’s all to do with them eating a viciously barbed plant called Smilax that grows in France.


Ray continues his exploration of the geography, flora and fauna of France by heading to the Ardeche, where miles of gorges and limestone cliffs characterise this part of the Auvergne-Rhone-Alpes region. He visits a cave with a long history and is given special permission to abseil in through the original sky-facing entrance, finding an array of stalactites and stalagmites inside. He then canoes down the Ardeche river and meets wildlife ranger Olivier, who teaches him some of the traditional uses of local plants.

Cast & Crew

Presenter Ray Mears
Executive Producer Andrea Cornes
Series Director Phil Coles
Series Producer Beth Sowersby