The Département de l’Ardèche (07) is in central France, lying west of the Rhône, with the slopes of the Cevennes in the west and northwest. The River Ardèche, one of the longest tributaries of the Rhône to come from the Massif Central, flows generally southeastwards across it. The Loire rises in its northwestern corner.
The department was formed from the northeast of Languedoc; its territory had once been in the Kingdom of Burgundy. Much of it became part of France in the early 14th century when the Bishop of Viviers acknowledged the overlordship of King Philip IV, the Fair. The northeasternmost corner belonged to the Dauphins of Vienne and to the Counts of Valentinois and in practice became part of France when the Dauphiné came to the heir to France in 1355.
During the Second World War the department was in the unoccupied zone from 1940 until German forces entered it after the allied landings in French North Africa in November 1942. During the Vichy régime the Ardèche came under the Regional Prefect in Lyon for police and economic matters from 1941.
Since 1960 the department of the Ardèche has been in the Rhône-Alpes region.
The capital is Privas. The sub-prefectures for the other arrondissements are at Largentière (in the south) and Tournon (on the Rhône in the north). The Bishop’s see is at Viviers, an ancient diocese.