After a day of Ferme en Ferme, we were fully settled into the Drome Provencal, the southern part of the Drome departement that is the northern reaches of Provence. While it rained heavily during the night on Sunday, Monday morning started out cold but with brilliant sunshine. I took my usual morning walk into the center of town to pick up some breakfast items; it was May 1st, a national holiday, but a number of shops were open in the morning. After we had breakfast, the friendly cat from yesterday afternoon arrived for his breakfast. After breakfast we took a walk around town (without the cat) and picked up some provisions at a butcher shop, and a Provencal tablecloth to bring home. We hung around the gite for awhile until lunch, when the cat rejoined us.
In the afternoon we decided to visit a few villages not far from Nyons that looked like they would be worth taking a walk through, particularly since the weather had surprisingly turned out to be beautiful. I had also made a list of some of the wine producers in the villages we were planning to visit.
Our first stop was Rousset-les-Vignes, which, as its name implies, is surrounded by vineyards. It also has a beautiful old village center surrounded by walls into which houses have been built. We took a stroll through the old center and around the walls. We also took a walk to Domaine la Bouvaude, a wine producer about a quarter mile from the center, but they were closed.
After leaving Rousset we drove to Taulignan, another village that I had found through a web site that has information about some of the most beautiful villages throughout France. Like Rousset-les-Vignes, Taulignan was spectacular, with a wonderful old gate leading to the medieval center. Again, we spent a fair amount of time walking throughout the center of the village, encountering several friendly cats.
|Cats of Taulignin|
Our final stop was Grignan, which we had visited about 10 years ago. It was a larger town than the previous two we visited, but no less impressive. The town is on several levels, with the top level being higher than we walked, and there is an impressive chateau part way up to the top. We also found a friendly cat, but he didn’t want to pose.
After leaving Grignan we dove into the Vaucluse Departement and through the larger town of Valreas, a center of the local wine trade. We were looking for Domaine des Grands Devers, and we eventually found it, but alas, it was also closed. I suspect that most wine producers were closed because of the holiday.
We then drove back to Nyons, and as we arrived at our gite, our visiting cat came running down the alleyway towards us, and then entered the courtyard. We sat in the courtyard and had aperitifs; the cat joined us. He eventually left, and this night he didn’t return for dinner. But after dinner, when we took a walk through the medieval center after it got dark, a friendly cat suddenly appeared on one of the high walls and greeted us.
Tuesday morning, I took my usual early morning walk to pick up croissants and other breakfast items in town. As I left the gite, a black cat we had seen a couple of days before came running towards me to say hello; our friendly visiting cat was also nearby. While we were having breakfast, he jumped up onto the ledge outside the kitchen window and peered in.
After breakfast we drove to Vaison-la-Romaine in the Vaucluse departement, one of the larger towns in the area. Vaison has a huge weekly market on Tuesdays, which stretches throughout the town. There were a lot of food vendors, but at least 3/4 of the stalls were selling non-food items such as tablecloths and napkins, cooking utensils, and clothing. We bought some fruits and vegetables, but were unable to get one of the items we were looking for — roast pintade (guinea hen). One vendor had various spit-roasted birds, but when Ann asked about getting a pintade, he checked his list and said that all of them had been reserved.
It had started to rain while we were in Vaison, which accounts for the lack of photos except for the one below of the Roman ruins just outside the center, and it got heavier as we went through the market. We left the market after an hour or so, and headed towards the well-known wine village of Gigondas, where I had contacted one of the wine producers - Domaine les Goubert -- about a visit. I was somewhat familiar with this producer, having bought a bottle of their Sablet red in Massachusetts from their U.S. importer, Ansonia Wines. When we got to Goubert, the woman at the tasting room, who was the co-winemaker with her father, opened several bottles, and we got to try their white Cotes du Rhone and Cots du Rhone Villages (including one that was 100% Viognier), as well as their red Cotes du Rhone, Sablet, and Gigondas wines. They were all very good, but the 2 Gigondas were spectacular. Gigondas is generally considered the 2d best Southern Rhone appellation after their well-known neighbor, Chateauneuf du Pape, and a good Gigondas can rival almost any Chateauneuf du Pape.
|Roman Ruins in Vaison-La-Romaine|
After leaving Domaine Les Goubert, we headed back to our gite for a late lunch. Having failed to get a pintade, we had some charcuterie, cheese and a salad, with a bottle of Altesse from Domaine Grisard in the Savoie. The cat was hanging around, and came over for lunch. We rested a bit after lunch and then took a walk around and through the town, crossing the 2 bridges again and admiring the views.
Eygues River in Nyons From The Pont Roman
|Pont Roman (Built 1340-1409)|
|View of Tower in Medieval Center|