France: Rhône Valley

Between Montélimar and Orange

The northern Côtes du Rhône Villages, Tricastin and Vivarais
By Liz Berry MW

This Guide was last updated on 26 January 2012
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Main towns and villages

Montélimar

A ‘must-visit’ town for lovers of nougat, a drive through the town makes you wonder at the number of shops, cheek-by-jowl, all selling this famous sweet, made from honey and nuts. There are plenty of opportunities here for tasting and buying, and the moderately attractive town centre has some interesting small museums.

Orange

The town of Orange appears slightly drab on the outside, but the historic centre has some lovely little narrow roads with interesting shops. The antique theatre, dating from the 1st century, and equipped now with a modern glass roof to keep out the worst of the weather in winter, is stunning, as is the 12th century cathedral, and the Roman Triumphal Arch. A good view over the Provencal tiled roofs of the town can be had from the Saint Eutrope Park.

Mornas

Attractive medieval village just off the N7, between Bollène and Orange. The old village is well worth a visit, with narrow, arched streets, and a very steep winding road up to the cliff top and the ruined fortress and 12th century church. There are numerous markets here during the summer, and a medieval festival.

Saint Paul Trois Châteaux

This interestingly named town has ancient origins, and numerous Roman remains are to be found around the area. A popular venue for artists, in the summer you may see easels set up at the edge of the road and artists attempting to set down on canvas the wonderful Provence light on the medieval buildings. The historic centre, with the remains of the original town walls, is very attractive, with some beautiful architecture. (The local tourist office organises weekly guided visits around the historic monuments of the town during the summer, currently every Wednesday). There is a fantastic view from the belvedere of the Chapelle Saint Just, and the town is also home to the Maison de la Truffe et du Tricastin - the truffles and Coteaux du Tricastin wine centre(see 'Other Interesting Shops' below).

Grignan

Pretty fortified village in the heart of the vineyards of Tricastin. As with other local towns, there is a weekly truffle market here in season (October to February/March). The tourist office has maps for local countryside walks, and it is possible to hire bikes for a longer trip around the very attractive countryside.

La Garde Adhemar

Very attractive medieval village, whose long history is closely bound with wine producing traditions. There are some lovely walks around the village, which boasts a ceramics and pottery shop, and several art galleries.

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