Wednesday, April 7, 2010


            We left Lyon on Saturday, April 3, and after a stop at a wine producer in the northern Ardeche, we drove to our gite in Pradons, in the southern Ardeche, where we would be spending the next week.  The next morning, Easter Sunday, we did some food shopping in the nearby town of Ruoms.  After lunch at our gite, we drove a little south to La Bastide de Virac, where we visited the Chateau de Roure, which dates from the 12th Century and was inhabited continuously until the 20th Century.  It’s now run as a museum, and we took a tour of the chateau, which included an explanation of the silk worm industry.  Silk production was a major industry in the southern Ardeche for several hundred years, and the chateau was a major silk producer.  The industry died a number of years ago, although attempts are being made to revive it.

     On the way back to Pradons we stopped in the village of Sampzon and drove into the hills, then drove by the Chateau de Sampzon at the foot of the village.
            Monday morning we took a walk from our gite, and crossed the main road into the village center of Pradons.  After passing through the center of the village, we took a detour at Domaine Mazel, a wine producer that had been recommended to us last year, as well as by the owner of the gite we were staying at.  We tasted their wines, accompanied by young vigneron Jerome Mazel and his parents.  I plan to write something more detailed about the wines later, but for now, it’s sufficient to say that all the wines were outstanding.
            That afternoon, we took a drive to Alba la Romaine, where we visited the village as well as the nearby Roman ruins.  In Alba we were greeted by a friendly village cat.

            After leaving Alba, we drove through the hills towards Saint Montan.  The drive was somewhat hair raising, as a good part of it was on narrow roads where there was barely enough room for oncoming cars to pass.  But when we saw the village of Saint Montan, it made it all worthwhile.  Saint Montan is a fortified village perched high on a hill overlooking the river, and  the view from below up to the town is spectacular.

            The next morning we drove to Largantiere, a town to the northwest with a chateau and a Tuesday morning market.  We spent a good part of the morning wandering around the town and the market, picking up provisions for lunch and taking a walk up to the chateau.
After leaving Largentiere, we drove out of town towards Montreal, a nearby town with another chateau.  What should have been a short drive took ages, as a good part of it was along a narrow road that we hoped would come out on a real road (it did).  We then finished the drive to Montreal, which, besides the chateau, had a friendly cat and a pretty town square.
             We then drove back to our gite for lunch, and in the afternoon we drove to Ruoms, parked, and took a marked walk down to and along the Ardeche river, and then back up along the gorges.  It was far more arduous than we had expected, and if it wasn’t for some assistance from another walker who knew how to navigate he cliffs along the river, we might have had to turn back halfway through. 


  1. You are making me jealous! Looks like the weather has been great too.

  2. Magnifique, cheris! Looks as if you're having a wonderful time: gorgeous scenery, good food, delicious wine, and friendly cats. It doesn't get much better than that! So, is Jean-Christophe Rossi a long-lost relative?

  3. Wow! Sounds and looks good.. I have been to the Ardeche before staying for a few days in Aubenas....


  4. Hi Bob and Ann, I too am jealous. You really know how to have a French wine vacation. I've shared the link to your blog with Harold Sprague, who can appreciate your insights better than I. But my heart is with you both. Is it just me, or is it hard to find a good map of France online? I wanted to follow Bob and Ann's travels on a map, and am frustrated. Don

  5. We are also soooo jealous!! The weather, scenery and wine all look fantastic! Can't wait to see and hear more stories.

  6. Bob:

    I read this in San Francisco where I've been visiting my sister this past week--she flew in from Sydney.

    Mememorable dinner last Tuesday at Chez Panisse sublime food were lucky with Crochet Sancerre and an artisanat Bourgeuil by Pierre and Catherine BRETON Cab Franc at its unfiltered best.