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Tour de France | Southern Rhone

The scent of the trees and the wild herbs warmed by the sun--I could recognize Provence with my eyes closed. Following the Rhône River south toward the Mediterranean on my wine buying trips, I see vineyards, vineyards, to the left, to the right, sheltered from the mistral by rows of cypress trees. Home at last! This is the land of Châteauneuf-du-Pape and Gigondas, with their magical southern accent--spicy wines to go with spicy Malaucène lamb, Nyons olive oil and Mondragon black truffles.

WINERIES
TO VISIT

Domaine du Terme Place du Village, Gigondas, 04-90-65-86-75. The town's mayor and his daughter make a fine classic Gigondas.

Domaine de la Garrigue Vacqueyras, 04-90-65-84-60. Delicious, spicy Gigondas and Vacqueyras.

Château de Beaucastel 739 Chemin de Beaucastel, Courthézon, 04-90-70-41-00. Great Châteauneuf-du-Pape from a family devoted to organic viticultural methods.

Clos des Papes 13 Avenue de Luxembourg, Châteauneuf-du-Pape, 04-90-83-70-13. A winery three centuries old that produces excellent whites and reds.

Domaine de la Charbonnière Route de Courthézon, Châteauneuf-du-Pape, 04-90-83-74-59. A warm welcome and five different cuvées of Châteauneuf-du-Pape.

WHERE TO STAY

Hostellerie du Château des Fines Roches Route d'Avignon, Châteauneuf-du-Pape, 04-90-83-70-23. An amazing copy of a fortified castle amidst vineyards.

La Sommellerie Route de Roquemaure, Châteauneuf-du-Pape, 04-90-83-50-00. A converted sheepfold in the vineyards, with comfortable rooms, a pool and seasonal regional cooking.

Auberge de Cassagne 450 Allée Cassagne, Le Pontet, 04-90-31-04-18. Large rooms in a refined Provençal style, opening onto a garden; haute cooking.

Hôtel de la Mirande 4 Place de l'Amirande, Avignon, 04-90-85-93-93. Beautiful 17th-century mansion within walking distance of the Palais des Papes.

WHERE TO EAT

La Beaugravière Quai Pont-Neuf, Mondragon, 04-90-40-82-54. The greatest Rhône wine list in the world. Don't miss the black truffles in season. Simple rooms available.

Le Mas de Bouvau Route de Cairanne, Violès, 04-90-70-94-08. Provençal restaurant in the middle of the Côtes du Rhône vineyards. Good basic rooms.

Les Florets Route des Dentelles-de- Montmirail, Gigondas, 04-90-65-85-01. Simple and delicious Provençal cuisine on a terrace under plane trees. Rustic rooms at modest prices.

Le Verger des Papes Montée du Château des Papes, Châteauneuf-du-Pape, 04-90-83-50-40. At the foot of the château, overlooking Mont Ventoux. The owner is a character out of Marcel Pagnol serving simple Provençal cuisine.

Les Domaines 28 Place de l'Horloge, Avignon, 04-90-82-58-86. Provençal cooking with a large selection of local wines by the glass.

Christian Etienne 10 Rue Mons, Avignon, 04-90-86-67-09. Elegant cuisine based on exceptional local ingredients, in a building older than the Palais des Papes.

La Fenière Lourmarin, 04-90-68-11-79. Suave, personal Provençal cooking, sometimes served on the spacious terrace. Good selection of local wines. Rooms are decorated with the works of local artisans.

Published October 1998
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