Steps: Wednesday 10,103, Thursday 10,825. Friday 11,689.
One of our goals on this adventure was to travel. A lot. I mean, really a lot. We got waylaid a bit at the beginning by our lack of internet, as it’s really hard to book flights, accommodations, really any planning or research at all without the interwebs. We pulled together a long weekend in Lisbon with cafe internet, and that was great. And we’ve got Berlin next weekend with the kids. But as soon as we saw on the school calendar that both the kids were going to be away at some sort of school glamping overnight trip for three days, Melinda and I looked at each other and said lets get out of here!
So where to go, where to go? We only had three days and two nights. And we wanted it to be a non-kid-friendly sort of place, so places like Rome and Paris were out. Let’s do a wine trip, we said! Burgundy was a high possibility, but looking at the map and flights to Burgundy (which is an arrival in Lyon) we thought how about going south through the Rhone Valley, end up in Montpellier and catch a high speed train home. The plusses of this plan were that I’d never been to the Rhone before, and they’re some of my favorite wines, and secondly, if we were taking the train home then I could bring wine home! No airport security to snag my wine!
We left the house before the kids were even away on their trip Wednesday morning, and hopped an easy (and cheap, like 43 euro each, one way, cheap!) flight to Lyon.
From Lyon it was a short 45 minute drive to the first major wine district of the Rhone – Cote Rotie!
I couldn’t believe how steep the slopes were. I knew from books that it was steep and terraced, but I had no idea. What a ludicrous job it is to tend those vines!
Had a beautiful old-school-French lunch right on the Rhone river in our next major wine district, Condrieu…
We continued our drive down the Rhone Valley with our next destination an appointment at M. Chapoutier, one of the bigger, but still excellent, wineries in the region. We had a lovely vineyard tour and a great tasting and then settled into our “Gite”. When we were looking for accommodation in the Rhone, Melinda stumbled upon this set of houses owned by M. Chapoutier. I was skeptical as I’ve heard Gites can be rustic and some even require you to bring your own linens and such. This one was the opposite! Nestled in the middle of the Pavillon part of the Hermitage vineyard, this was our own two-story, one bedroom, top of the line everything, oasis in the Rhone!
Who could ask for a better view from your bedroom window than this!
Had a lovely dinner in Tain Hermitage at a spot called Les Mangevins. Check it out if you’re ever in town. We happened upon a great walking bridge over the Rhone (you know me, always searching for good transportation infrastructure!).
The next morning Melinda and I woke up well before dawn and hiked up Hermitage for some pre-dawn views!
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And some views of Tain Hermitage…
After checking out of our Gite, we jumped in the car and headed south to meet up with our friend Laely Heron (of Heron Wines) in the Southern Rhone. But first I had to make a stop at another famous wine district of the Northern Rhone called Cornas. Steep, but not as steep as Cote Rotie or Hermitage, but full of little nooks and crannies in the hill.
We met up with Laely at Clos Bellane, which is in the most northern part of the Southern Rhone. Stunningly beautiful vineyards…
And we had a couple tastings with Close Bellane’s owner and winemaker Stephane Vedeau. He’s very very talented, and, um, quite handsome…
Laely took us on an awesome tour. Here’s the kind of energy she has – this is the itinerary she laid out for us:
1) Tour and taste at Clos Bellane
2) Lunch in Gigondas at Nez!
3) Tasting at Domaine du Gour de Chaule
4) Drive to Chateauneuf du Pape, tour of the old Pope’s summer palace
5) Vineyard tour in Chateauneuf du Pape
6) Back to Gigondas and a visit to the vista-point at the Dentilles
7) Vineyard tour in Gigondas
8) Champagne on the terrace at Hotel Les Florets
9) Race home to change for dinner
10) Dinner at L’Oustalet in Gigondas
11) Home to bed to pass out!
Laely’s incredible! Here’s some shots from our day with her.
The obligatory “entering the town of …” shot.
The famous galettes of Chateauneuf (and Laely’s boot)
Laely in CdP…
Me and Melinda and the “Dentilles”
The next morning Laely had to leave early for a trip to Alsace, so Melinda and I made our own itinerary, which was loosely based on trying to find the best croissant in the Southern Rhone! We tried in Sablet, then in Vacqueras, then in Beaumes-de-Venice. It was a hard challenge but we got it done! (Best one was at Duperon Harry in Beaumes-de-Venice, in case you’re interested!)
Here’s a gratuitous picture postcard shot of the quaint and beautiful Beaumes-de-Venice…
We drove on down and hit Avignon before our train. Did a tour of the grandiose Popes palace…
And had lunch and checked out the view in this beautiful town. It wasn’t summer so it wasn’t crazy crowded. Stunning town, Avignon is!
Then it was a (supposed to be) quick jaunt to Montpellier before our (almost missed) train back to Barcelona. Only 3 hours away.
So a fantastic blitz-fast trip through the Rhone. But just so much fun to take advantage of being so so close to France! Can’t wait for another fast and fun trip with my honey!
Next stop, Berlin!