Thankfully we spent two nights at l’Auberge du Lac because it took us so long to find this hidden jewel on a country road nestled on the edge of Lac Ternay about an hour southwest of Lyon in the Ardèche department. Cute, comfortable rooms in floral motifs, clever trompe l’oeil elevator murals, an infinity pool overlooking the lake with a view of the Pilat massif in the far distance, attractive dining room with huge floor to ceiling windows, spacious sun terrace… who could ask for more? On top of that, it’s a nature lover’s paradise with an easy, shady, scenic walk on a path that circles the lake and takes about an hour. Did I mention the restaurant with lake view and superb cuisine with local ingredients? A member of the Châteaux & Hôtels Collection, this auberge is a small four-star property that offers twelve rooms.
The real reason I chose this hotel was for its proximity to the Peaugres Safari Park situated about seven miles away on 197 acres of land. With over 800 animals from four continents, it sounded like an ideal place to spend the day. Fortunately it was a week day so it wasn’t crowded. There are two circuits, one to take by car and the other on foot. The drive-thru Safari, in our own car, led us through “the plains of Africa” where elephants, zebra and a variety of other large plains animals are visible in the wild. An additional loop took us through a “North American forest” where bears performed antics and stared at us through the car windows. The driving exploration takes about 45 minutes and can be repeated, if so desired.
The foot circuit offered us a leisurely stroll past a large lake filled with exotic water fowl and continued on through a park with smaller animals housed in cool, leafy habitats. We especially enjoyed seeing an anteater and an armadillo. With over 120 species on display, there is a favourite for everyone. The animals are well grouped and the habitats are laid out in a creative manner that separates visitors and allows for excellent viewing. Not for the squeamish, a subterranean cavern is home to rats, mice and bats.
There was so much to see, we didn’t want to leave even though the brochure claimed all could be seen in three hours. With picnic and play areas, snack bars and cafés, there is plenty of room to take a restful pause. One could easily spend the entire day enjoying the variety of animals in their well designed enclosures in a carefully landscaped and maintained environment.
For more information, visit the Auberge du Lac website.