France: Rhône Valley

North and West of Avignon

Châteauneuf du Pape, Lirac, Tavel and Costières de Nîmes
By Liz Berry MW

This Guide was last updated on 27 February 2010
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Main towns and villages

Châteauneuf du Pape

This is a very attractive hilly village at the heart of the appellation. The ruins of the Papal palace can be seen towering over the village, and the view from up here encompasses the vineyards and landscape of the region in all directions. The roads can be very narrow for cars, but there is a large central parking near the town centre. A number of producers have tasting cellars within the village, where you can taste and buy, as well as a number of producers’ shops, where you can simply buy. One of the best of these shops is Domaine de Pégau.


Large town with some rather ugly modern buildings, but with interesting Roman remains, including a superbly preserved Roman amphitheatre, and the Maison Carrée, both well worth a visit, as well as some rather beautiful public gardens, the Jardins de la Fontaine. A selection of very good restaurants and shops here.


The city of the popes has some excellent museums. Visit the Palais des Pâpes, the ramparts, and the famous half-a-bridge (“sur le pont d’Avignon”). There are lovely wide tree-lined streets for shopping or strolling, as well as some very fine older buildings.

Saint Gilles

Although the town centre is rather drab, this small town is worth a visit for the picturesque canal. It has a couple of decent wine shops with friendly service and a good range of local wines, as well as attractive bars, snack bars and restaurants.

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