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All the beauty of Provence is practically on your doorstep…villages perched up high in the Luberon and the Alpilles, the wild Camargue, Roman towns, lavender fields as far as the eye can see on the plateaux of Vaucluse, the jagged peaks of the dentelles de Montmirail, and the foothills of Provence’s highest peak, Mont Ventoux – legendary as one of the most grueling climbs in the Tour de France.
We hope you will enjoy your stay with us and, with this in mind, the following is a collection of places we have enjoyed visiting and some ideas for shopping and eating out.

Nearby…….driving towards Nîmes:

Rochefort du Gard (approximately 2 km):

Maison des Vignes Rochefort du GardLe Castelas is a fully renovated Romanesque chapel from the 10th century, which towers above the village.
The Sanctuary of Notre Dame was built under Charlemagne's rule in 798. The chapel, the nave, the choir, the baroque altar, the museum of thanksgiving plaques, the hall of echoes, and the Grand Calvary are all worth a visit.  The church of Saint Bardulphe is a neo-Gothic parish church, which was renovated in 1981 and 1988.  The town hall was a former chapel built from 1729 to 1934 and the wash-house with its Doric columns; was completed in 1807 and entirely renovated in 1999.

There is a very small local produce market every Sunday morning.  The first Sunday in August is the village festival.  Nearly 3000 people come to see the "Grand Aïoli" held on the Monday after the village festival.  On 1 May and at the beginning of October, two communal yard sales take place in the village streets, attracting about 200 exhibitors.


Tavel (approximately 11 km):

The southern village of Tavel is situated at the heart of the Rhône Valley in the department of the Gard, 15 km from Avignon, 15 km from the Pont de Gard, 20 km from Orange, and 40 km from Nîmes.  Tavel is the birthplace of the well-known wine that bears the name of the village, a Côtes du Rhône "cru" and France's best rosé.
Tavel has deliberately chosen to produce only rosé wines, for reasons that are essentially related to the nature, the climate, and the history of the land.
Since the Renaissance, people everywhere have sought out the Tavel wine called "clairet," whose distinctive feature, as the name indicates, is its light, rosé colour.
Today, under the eyes of the benevolent giant that is Provence's Mont Ventoux, a vineyard trail offers a pleasant stroll through the heart of Tavels' three "terroirs," all of which fully contribute to the creation and the reputation of France's best rosé.

Nearby…….driving towards Avignon:

Les Grand Angles & Les Angles (approximately 4 km):

maison des vignes les angles
The town of Les Angles in the Gard has been inhabited since prehistoric times and is located across from Avignon, on a plateau (perched) overlooking the Rhône.  The old town is worth a visit.

There is a very small market held every Saturday in the car park by the Spar supermarket selling local produce (wine, olives, etc).


 


Eating out:

Restaurant 119
– Caroline and Didier, the owners of this new restaurant, have created an informal, but very chic eatery in an industrial estate!  Do not be put off.  Richard, their talented chef, prepares sensational dishes using local and seasonal produce.  The restaurant is located behind a DIY store called "Weldom" in the industrial estate near the hypermarket E.Leclerc (you can see "Weldom" from the "MacDonald's" roundabout and there are signs for “Restaurant 119” if you look out for them).  Gets very busy at lunch time because their plat du jour is extremely good value but the A la carte in the evening is surprisingly inexpensive.  To avoid disappointment, you can reserve a table via their contact page on their website.  Mention that you are staying at Maison des Vignes when you go there.
Zone Commercial
Grand Angles 30133
Tel: 04 90 22 53 06
Mob: 06 03 86 22 96
www.restaurant119.fr

La Strada – is one of the oldest Italian family run restaurants in the region serving excellent Italian food (their calzone pizza with soft runny egg inside is a must).  They have their own swimming pool with sun loungers where you can “during the summer months relax around the pool in the afternoon after lunch”!  They get very busy, so reservations advisable and well worth a visit for either lunch or dinner.
1125 Avenue de la 2ème DB
30133 Les Angles
Tel: 04 90 25 14 14                
www.lastradarestaurant.fr

Les Romarins - serving pizzas, salads, all you can eat moules-frites for a fixed price (this night varies so look out for the blackboard outside) and fish, gambas and meat grilled over a wood fire.
515 Avenue de la 2me DB
30133 - Les Angles
Tel: 04 90 25 25 16
 
Blanc Pur – you can’t fail to recognize this restaurant and wine cave by the huge 'b' sculpture outside made entirely of cutlery!  Inside you will find wines and local produce to buy.  The restaurant is very good serving excellent food - salads and tapas style dishes.  The outside terrace is nice too especially on a warm evening.
850 avenue de la 2ème DB
30133 Les Angles
Tel: 04 90 92 31 52                
www.blancpur-vins.com

Thai Trucks – A relatively new and very chic little restaurant serving very good Asian food including noodles, Thai curry, and sushi to mention just a few of their dishes.  Not have many tables so it’s best to book.  Nice outside space too. Well worth a visit or they do take-away too!
5 Avenue de Verdun
30133 Les Angles
Tel: 04 90 202 202                 
www.thai-trucks.com  (free WiFi)
 
Lou Mazet (bar) - a local bar run by Steff and Isabella where you can get homemade pizzas to eat in or take-away, steaks, gambas, and salads.
4 Avenue de Verdun
30133 Les Angles


Pujaut (approximately 8 km):



Vigne et Garrigue
- a serious gastronomic experience either for lunch or dinner where you will sample a “joyful mix of mouth-watering flavours aromas and colours”.  Chef Serge Chenet’s cooking is simply “magic on a plate” and you will not be disappointed.  Reservations essential, which you can do via their website
Le Mas Saint Bruno
Route de Saint Bruno
30131 Pujaut
Tel: 4 90 95 20 29     
 www.vigne-et-garrigue.com



Villeneuve-lès-Avignon (approximately 8 km):

Maison des Vignes Villeneuve les AvignonThe charming village of Villeneuve-lès-Avignon was the residence of cardinals during the 14th century.  Visitors will experience a heritage rich in monuments and history. Located at the point where Provence, the Cévennes, la Camargue and Languedoc Roussillon meet, Villeneuve hosts performances, festivals, and markets all year round for your enjoyment. 

Le Fort St. André is a 14th-century enclosure built to protect the Benedictine abbey and the town of St. André.  The Tower of Philippe le Bel is the only part that remains of the defensive keep (13th-14th centuries). 

Les cardinal's palaces are luxurious residences built in the 14th century by the popes, the cardinals, and the prelates of the papal court.  The collegiate church of Notre Dame was built in the 14th century by Cardinal Arnaud de Vià.  

The Abbey of St. André is situated within the walls of the St. André Fort.  It was constructed in the early 11th century.  The Carthusian monastery of the Val de Bénédiction is an enormous church surrounded by three cloisters; it is one of the largest Carthusian houses in Europe. 

There is a wonderful little Provençal market selling local produce, fish, meat, wine, linen, clothes, in fact practically everything on a small scale.  Worth a visit and held on Thursday and Saturday mornings.

Eating out:

Le Bistrot du Moulin – Philippe Brozini and Olivier Blanchenoix will welcome you at any time of the day to their warm, friendly and relaxed fine dining experience in a stunning and beautifully renovated barn of an established and fully working olive oil mill.
 
Le Bistrot du Moulin is the place for gourmets and epicureans who will appreciate the combinations of flavours in their dishes based on traditional gastronomic produce of the olive mill of the Chartreuse.
 
All dishes and artesian breads are made on the premises using fresh, locally sourced and seasonal produce.
 
Visit the shop - Le Moulin à Huile de la Chartreuse (before or after your meal) for beautiful gifts from the olive mill as well as products from Provence that you will want to take home with you!
 
To avoid disappointment reservations are essential.  You can book online using their contact page if your French is not quite up to a phone call, although excellent English is spoken.  Please mention that you are staying with us.
74 Rue de la République
30400 Villeneuve-lès-Avignon, France
Tel:  04 90 25 45 59               
www.lebistrotdumoulin.com  (free WiFi)

Le Prieure Hotel & Restaurant:

For a very special occasion this is a superb 5 star hotel & restaurant located in a former Convent.  Needless to say reservations are essential to avoid disappointment.
Place Chapitre.BP 12
30400 - Villeneuve lès Avignon
Tel: 0490159015
www.leprieure.fr

The City of
Avignon (approximately 6 km):

Enter the realm of seduction and charm that this animated Provençal city offers!
Avignon, was for some time the capital of Christendom in the Middle Ages and retains the indelible mark of its grandiose destiny the Palais des Papes (Palace of the Popes), the Saint-Benezet bridge, called the “Pont d’Avignon” of worldwide fame through its commemoration by the song “sur le pont d’avignon, on y danse, on y danse”…, and the ramparts constitute an exceptional complex of monuments listed as World Heritage sites. 

Dozens of churches and chapels remain testament to a past rich in history.  It is this which gives the City of Avignon its unique atmosphere! 
Avignon is the birthplace of the prestigious festival of contemporary theatre held during the first 3 weeks in July each year.  It was also named European Capital of Culture in 2000.  Avignon also has many museums, an opera house, and theatre, an exhibition hall and a congress center with installations on the cutting edge of technology located within the outstanding and imposing building - the “Palais des Papes”.

The stall holders in the “Halles”, the oldest covered market in the City, offer the opportunity to sample Provençal specialties and local produce in an unrivalled atmosphere. 

Avignon is an important centre for the initiation into Provençal cooking.  The chefs, some of whom are reputed, concoct traditional and original dishes to be relished in charming restaurants.  There are literally hundreds, if not thousands of restaurants and cafés in Avignon and far too many to list here.  Here’s a selection of where we have enjoyed eating.  Remember that lunch-time is the most important meal of the day in France and you will enjoy real value for money as most, if not all, restaurants offer a set lunch menu.  Reservations are usually necessary to avoid disappointment especially on Sunday’s when the French like to eat out “en famille”!
 
Eating out:
 
Christian Etienne (French cuisine with a Michelin Star)
10 rue de Mons
Avignon
Tel:  0490 861 650              
www.christian-etienne.fr

Restaurant L’Essentiel (French cuisine)
2, rue Petite Fusterie
Avignon
Tel:  04 90 85 87 12             
www.restaurantlessentiel.com

Le Brigadier du Theatre (French cuisine)
17, rue Racine
Tel: 490822119                    
www.lebrigadier.com
 
L’Opera Café
Situated in the main square (Place de l’horloge) opposite Hotel de Ville, where the restaurants are more expensive but not necessarily worthy of this additional cost, L’Opera Café serves an excellent value set menu at lunch-time: a similar menu is considerably more expensive in the evening!  Good for steaks.24 place de l'horloge
Avignon
Tel:  04 90 86 17 43
www.operacafe-avignon.fr

La Cour d'Honneur
Excellent food in a lovely quiet courtyard setting. Perfect for lunch or dinner.  Never been disappointed. 58 Rue Joseph Vernet
Avignon
Tel:  04 90 86 64 53            
www.cour-honneur.com

Restaurant & Bar 83 Vernet (Regional French cuisine)
This restaurant and bar is located in an absolutely fabulous historic building in the middle of Avignon – a very cool place and one to definitely visit and to people watch.  Everyone loves to come here in the summer evenings!  A reservation is essential if you want to dine here.83 Rue Joseph Vernet,
Avignon
Tel:  04 90 85 99 04            
www.83vernet.com

Fou de Fafa - a real find serving wonderful food but, with only 10 tables, book early!  Open Wednesday through Sunday from 18:30 to 23:30 and closed Monday and Tuesday.
7 rue des Trois Faucons
Avignon
Tel: 4 32 76 35 13

Le 46 - Another lovely place to eat….do try it if you have time!
46 rue de la Balance
Avignon
Tel: 04 90 85 24 83
www.le46avignon.com


The City of Nîmes - the ‘s’ is silent (approximately 28 km):


Water and stone are closely bonded here. The spring named after the god Nemausus resulted in the founding of the town. 

You will find a completely intact Roman temple from the 4th Century BC and a perfectly preserved Roman amphitheatre (so impressive it was used as the setting for the film, Gladiator) right in the centre of this Capital City of the Gard region.  Its other major claim to fame was to be the birthplace of denim, which originally meant “de Nîmes” or “from Nîmes”.  In the early 1900’s the town’s merchants exported this blue cloth to the USA to make sails for ships, tarpaulins and workmen’s trousers. In 1870, a Bavarian immigrant by the name of Levi Strauss used this cloth to make trousers for the trailblazers opening up the Wild West – made in Genoa (hence, the origin of the word “jeans”) of “de Nîmes” cloth, one of the world’s best known garments was born!

Just the right size for exploring on foot, with a car-free centre, which oozes charm at every turn.  All can be seen in a day (stopping for lunch, naturally), but you’ll want to return again and again!


A bit further afield…..driving towards Nîmes and beyond


Orange
(approximately 28 km):

Theatreantique.JPGThe town of Orange is renowned for its Roman architecture.  Its Roman theatre is described as the most impressive still existing in Europe.  The fine Triumphal Arch of Orange is often said to date from the time of Augustus or Tiberius.  The arch, theatre and surroundings were listed in 1981 as a World Heritage Site.

The restored Roman amphitheatre is the site of the now famous annual music festival, Chorégies d'Orange.  Many top international opera singers have performed in the theatre, such as the three tenors (Plácido Domingo, José Carreras and Luciano Pavarotti).  Operas such as Tosca, Aida, Faust and Carmen have been staged here, many with sumptuous staging and receiving outstanding acclaim.





Le Pont du Gard – A World Heritage Site (approximately 20 km):


Le Pont du Gard2000 years ago over 1000 people worked for 5 years on the construction of the Pont du Gard the famous Roman aqueduct.  Hundreds also died during the construction.  The objective was to bring water to the city of Nîmes.  People flock to marvel at the work: walkers, hikers, lovers, poets, painters, tour groups, apprentice explorers, from the region and beyond!

The Pont du Gard site is open all year round.  Please note that the discovery areas are open every day except Monday morning and from November to March.






Castillon du Gard: just before the Pont du Gard (approximately 15 km):


The village of Castillon dates back to the 12th century. 
Today the houses of Castillon have been restored by locals and many foreigners who live there.  The results are breath-taking and every year more renovations take place and the village becomes even more beautiful. 
There are several restaurants, a butcher and a Tabac-Presse.  During the summer months, it is bustling with people visiting the nearby Pont du Gard, and who can't resist stopping by this beautiful hilltop village. 
This typical southern French café is where the locals stop for a quick coffee, or a petit blanc (a glass of white wine) or even a pastis!  The place hasn't changed for years and years and is said to serve the best coffee in the region (not sure about that) don’t forget to bring your own pastry!

Close by and for a truly gastronomic delight and breathtaking views, dine out at:

 
Hotel Vieux
Rue Turion
Sabatier
30210 Castillon du Gard
Tel:  04 66 37 61 61               
www.vieuxcastillon.com



Uzès (approximately 30 km):


Uzès reveals an incomparable charm and Latin grace.  A charming medieval city in the Languedoc-Roussillon region about 32 km north of Nîmes and 50 km west of Avignon.  Uzès is the self-proclaimed first duchy of France; host to one of the most colourful Saturday markets in the South of France.
A stroll round Uzès begins with a circuit of the old centre, with its pedestrian streets, “trendy” shops and architectural treasures, such as the Château des Ducs d’Uzès, a private property but open to visitors, the Saint-Théodorit Cathedral and the Fenestrelle Tower, with its similarities to the Tower of Pisa, the magnificent private mansions that were homes to the Baron de Castille and Chambon de la Tour, and also the Place aux Herbes (pictured), the town’s epicenter, with its lovely arcades and café terraces.  The weekly market takes place here on a Saturday where you can relax outside soaking up the atmosphere over lunch and a glass of wine!




Arles (approximately 37 km):



A favorite destination for visitors to
Provence made famous by painters Van Gogh and Gauguin.
At one time home to Julius Caesar, Arles was a key city in Roman times as evidenced by the wonderful Arena in the centre, which has been painstakingly renovated and is still used for bullfights.
 
The area around Arles is famous for its natural beauty, especially in the Camargue.









The Camargue (approximately 40 km):


A few minutes south of Arles, you enter the area of the Camargue, with its series of long, level roads criss-crossing the marshes.  Home to eagles, hawks, black bulls, white horses and the famous pink flamingo.

The Camargue was designated as a botanical and zoological nature reserve in 1927 and 1970, helping to maintain its natural beauty. Spring and Autumn are the best times for seeing the birds, the bulls and the horses of the Camargue.  Worth a visit are the salt works South of Aigues Mortes where you will find “les Salines”, one of the two salt works of the Camargue.  The other salt works is to the south of “Salin de Giraud”.  Producing some 500,000 metric tons of salt per year, the most amazing views are to been seen of the long lines of salt "mountains" drying in the Provencal sun, and the checkerboard salt-pans.




Cascades du Sautadet – An inland beach (approximately 45km):

The river Cèze is just south of the much busier Ardèche and just north of the famous Pont du Gard. At the Cascade du Sautadet you’ll find one of France’s most impressive series of waterfalls. There are deep pots of bubbling water to luxuriate in, chutes to slide down and limestone cliffs, eroded into strange shapes, from which brave French boys perform spectacular high-dives. Just downstream a long beach is perfect for sunbathing and a large deep pool stretches out, ideal for more sedate swimming or snorkeling in the clear waters. It’s difficult to get bored here with so much going on but if you prefer a bit of culture you can wander through the medieval lanes of the La Roque-sur- Cèze, one of the official ‘Plus Beaux’ villages in France, with a delightful church. Take the D980 from Bagnols, then the D166 (Lat Long 44.1890, 4.5271) you won’t be disappointed!
 






Sète (approximately 114 km using the A9 auto-route):


Sète was built on the orders of Louis XIV, from 1666 to provide an outlet to the sea for the Canal du Midi. It is very much a working port, but it is also a very charming small town. You could be mistaken and think Sète is an island as it encircles a lone hill, the Mont St-Clair (take a No. 5 bus or a taxi to the top as the views are a sight to behold) with the sea to the front and the "Thau” lagoon to the rear with its vast expanse of salt water, colonized by oyster and mussel beds. A network of canals in between brings the port and fishing activity right into the town centre! Sète is the home of the famous water jousting festival which is held every summer and has one of the finest beaches in the French Mediterranean spanning a huge 8 miles from the lagoon to the sea. The Pont-de-la-Civette (Civette Bridge) marks the start of the Quai-de-la-Résistance and the main stretch of canal-side (Canal Royal, Quai Général Durand, or Quai Maximin Liccardi) where many fine bars and fish restaurants can be found all with an Italian influence!

Eating out:

Le Paris-Mediterranée 47 Rue Sémard Tel: 04 67 74 97 73 - down a tiny street, some way from the crowds and the quays, is a contemporary Parisian bistro.  Menus from €25.

Les Demoiselles Dupuy 4 Quai Maximin Licciardi Tel: 04 67 74 03 46 known as the best fish restaurant in Sète. This is more of a classic restaurant which has been farming oysters and mussels in the Thau lagoon for generations. Fish is simply prepared in simple, convivial surroundings - about €25 for 3 courses.

Thierry Alix 621 Promenade du Lido Tel: 04 67 74 10 91. If you are looking for a more up market affair you will find this restaurant on the new pedestrian promenade edging the beaches, Thierry Alix who has spent his life in gastronomic restaurants has put his own name to this shore-side spot. Here you will find a haven from which you can contemplate the Mediterranean in elegant contemporary comfort and enjoy inventive versions of classic Mediterranean cuisine - from €30.


…..
driving towards Avignon and beyond

L’Isle sur la Sorgue (approximately 31 km):

L'Isle sur la Sorgue means "the Island in the Sorgue", the river Sorgue.  The river flows through and around the town with crystal clear water all year round.  The concrete promenade along the river is littered with curio shops.
Were it not for the many antique shops, l'Isle sur la Sorgue would be another one of the historic towns in the Southern Rhône valley.  What makes l'Isle sur la Sorgue so special is its undisputed reputation as the place in Southern France to shop for antiques.  An extra bonus is one of the best Provençal markets in the whole of the South of France.
The market takes place on Thursday and Sunday mornings in the streets of the old town.  The Sunday market is huge, but very busy during the summer months.  You will find a treat at every turn: an assault on the eyes and the nose: fresh fruits, vegetables, sausages, ham, cheese, fish and meat; you name, it’s there.  It is a great place to shop for Provençal items, like pottery, tablecloths and linens.
Take it easy and soak up the atmosphere of Provence - find yourself a chair outside one of the cafés in the old town (we recommend Café de France opposite the church).

There are an abundance of restaurants along the banks of the Sorgue: Le Potager de Louise and Le Café au Chineur, great for food prepared with local produce from the market.  These are two of our favourite places to stop for lunch on a Sunday after visiting the market and antique shops.


Parking is notoriously difficult so aim to get there early (around 9 a.m. and make your way to either the car park behind the railway station (Gare), which is free or there is a car park behind the Spar supermarket for which you pay by the hour.



Gordes (approximately 47 km):

Due to it's priviledged position, it's exceptional charm and it's typical architecture, Gordes has been listed as "one of the most beautiful villages in France".
While strolling around the tiny streets which climb up between the tall houses, you will discover here and there beautiful old doorways, arcades and walls of flat stone perfectly restored, and on the other side, there is the panorama of the valley and mountains of Luberon. 
Once at the top of Gordes, you can see the fortified castle enclosing the city hall and Pol Para museum (Flemish contemporary painter): the odd village of the "borie" is intriguing.  Bories are little round huts built in stone and were one time used by shepherds or hunters.
Do not miss the fabulous Abbey of Senanque hidden in teh green valley where Cistercian monks still live producing honey, lavender essence and liqueurs.  Thw whole 12th century edifice is open for visits.
Gordes is without a doubt worth seeing.  The village has a world wide reputation due to it's famous inhabitants, and of course, Peter Mayle's book "A Year in Provence" certainly helped!




Mont Ventoux (approximately 48 km):

Magnificent at 1,912m (6273ft) high, Mont Ventoux is also called the "Giant of Provence", and is one of the most famous mountains in France.  Although part of the Alps it appears seperate from them, like a volcano towering over the Rhone Valley.  The top of Mont Ventoux is white limestone without any vegetation; it appears from a distance to be snow-capped all year round (snow cover normally only lasts from December to March).  When the Mistral is blowing, the air is crisp, the sky an intense blue (much admired by the likes of Cezanne and van Gogh) and every detail of Mont Ventoux is visible from afar.

The road leading to to the peak of Mont Ventoux was opened in 1900.  On a clear day (approx 300 days per year), you have superb views from the observation terrace on its peak.  The road is normally closed when the Mistral blows during winter and early spring.The ascent to and from Bédoin (the base) to the top of Mont Ventoux has become a quasi mythical course for cyclists.  You have not achieved your goal as a serious biker if you have not cycled to the summit of Mont Ventoux!

When visiting Mont Ventoux, even during the summer months a sweater and jacket are essential attire!






Roussillon (approximately 54 km):

Maison des Vignes RoussillonThe ocre-red village of Roussillon, one of the Plus Beaux Villages de France, is a tourist destination on the southern edge of the Plateau de Vaucluse.  

Roussillon is a beautiful village, with its red rocks, red stone buildings and red tile roofs.  Roussillon is lovely from the outside, set in a deep green pine forest on bright red-ocre hills, but is even more spectacular inside the village, with the colourful old buildings and narrow medieval streets.  The village centre is fairly small, so wandering the streets to discover the many lovely sites doesn't take very long.  A couple of favourites are: the square with the pair of old buildings and the 19th century clock and bell tower with it's bells and ancient sundials.



…..driving towards Marseille on the A7 toll road


Aix-en-Provence (approximately 97 km):

Home to the one of the most famous impressionist painters, Cézanne who Picasso called "the father of us all".  Aix is a truly wonderful “cosmopolitan” place to visit.  Fondly regarded as a “mini” Paris chic shops are in abundance here.  There are innumerable places to eat and drink on the main street known as the “Cours Mirabeau” including the famous Les Deux Garçons, the city's legendary brasserie favoured by Paul Cézanne who came here in 1906 to enjoy a very leisurely three-hour apéritif between 4pm and 7pm while he wrote a letter to his son!  Many other famous names have downed a glass or two here, including Picasso, Churchill, and Edith Piaf to name just a few!
The three markets (flower, local produce and bric-a-brac) on Saturday morning are the envy of the region – get there early as typically everything closes for lunch at 1 o’clock!






Marseille (approximately 110 km):

Nestled between the sea and hills, Marseille is France’s second largest city.  A port city, it is a surprising, seasonless and enthusiastic city.  Founded 2600 years ago, it is the oldest city in France and combines the richness of its unique heritage with a vibrant cultural life in one exceptional site.
 
About 1½ km offshore in the Bay of The Château d'If is a fortress (later a prison) located on the island of “If”, the smallest island in the Frioul Archipelago situated in the Mediterranean SeaMarseille.  It is famous for being one of the settings of Alexandre Dumas' adventure novel “The Count of Monte Cristo”.
Visit some of the most wonderful seafood restaurants in the South of France and sample the famous dishes of the region: bouillabaisse and fruits de mer.

 





------ooOoo------


The Wines of the Côtes du Rhône



Châteauneuf du Pape : Gigondas : Vacqueyras : Rasteau : Cairanne



Châteauneuf du Pape is best known for its outstanding red wine, the famous A.O.C. Châteauneuf du Pape. This is one of the few areas on the busy sector between Orange and Avignon which has retained its charm and tranquility.  The village streets and alleys curve around the hillside and climb up to the château.  Catch a bite to eat at an unassuming little restaurant: La Maisouneta 7, rue Joseph Ducros where simple homemade French and Italian food is served alongside red and white wines from Châteauneuf du Pape “by the glass” – cheers!!!

Domaines of interest are: Domaine du Pegau, Château Beaucastel, Château de Vaudieu, Domaine Pierre Usseglio, Domaine du Vieux Télégraphe, Domaine de Marcoux and Domaine Grand Veneur.





Gigondas, is an old village which rises up from the surrounding vineyards, past ancient houses to the 11th-century St. Catherine's church, with its central clock tower flanked by the campanile belfry and the old sundial.  The ruins of the ancient fortifications extend up from the rocky ridge high above the village.  Most of the old defensive wall still runs down from the top along the east edge of the village. High to the right, the ruins of the castle of the Princes of Orange still stand sentinel over the village and vineyards below.  The central square has a few terrace cafés with breathtaking views, and the ever-present wine "caveaux" where you can taste several variations of the superb Gigondas wine and, of course, buy a few bottles to take home.





Mason des Vignes Vacqueyras

Vacqueyras was the second Côtes du Rhônes Villages to be upgraded to AOC status (after Gigondas) in 1990 and rightly so. These excellent value wines are like turbo-charged Côtes du Rhônes: dark, rich wines with the classic herbs and warm peppery spice of the Southern Rhône.

Compared to neighbouring Gigondas they are slightly more restrained and rustic - in the best sense of the word - and slightly cheaper. They are made from slightly less Grenache (50% minimum) with the balance made up with Syrah, Mourvèdre and Cinsault.  The small amount of fresh, fruity rosé is usually well worth the search; the tiny amount of white wine is not





Rasteau is an Appellation d'Origine Contrôlée for wine in the southern Rhône wine region of France, covering both fortified and unfortified wines.  Perched atop a 200m high hill, Rasteau looks out to the Dentelles de Montmirail. Village life revolves around the main square (place d’Apparent), edged with plane trees, that forms the main place of business as well as a centre of village festivities.
The relatively sheltered vineyard is south-facing, and the great diversity of soils and uneven terrain produce wines with a very strong character. Rasteau AOC was elevated to Côtes du Rhône Cru status in 2010, owing largely to the quality of its wines and the efforts of the appellation’s winemakers. Rasteau is also known for its Vin Doux Naturel fortified wines



Maison des Vignes CairanneCairanne is located near Gigondas, where the vines are planted on rocky slopes.  Grenache, which is the king grape in this area, can sometimes reach its potential maturity at a heady 19% alcohol!  The blend of Syrah, Mourvèdre, Carignan and Cinsault bring fruit and elegance to a powerful and spicy red wine. 

Cairanne also produces delicious "muscled" white wines based on Grenache White, Clairette, Marsanne, Roussane, Bourboulenc and Viognier.  Cairanne is a beautiful village located on roads that lead to either Gigondas, Vaison la Romaine and Sainte Cécile les Vignes.  

"Le Tourne Verre" is a lovely "bistro-bar à vins" in the village where you can have an extremely good lunch for around 13 Euros, with delicious local wines which will pair perfectly with what’s on the menu.  

There are 26 producers which comprise this small appellation.  The most famous being Marcel Richaud, although on the expensive side.  Good quality at a decent price can be found at the village Cooperative: Domaine Brusset and Domaine Rabasse Charavin where Corinne Couturier makes wonderful wines that resemble her strong but feminine character in the white or red “Estevenas Cuvée”.





Other notable wines to try from the Côtes du Rhône area are:

Côtes du ventoux, Côtes du Luberon, Lirac, Beaumes de Venise.

Santé!!

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