Every time I visit a new destination in France I think that I have seen the one that beats them all, until I visit another. I’m learning that it’s difficult to compare regions with each other because they are all so different and each have something beautiful to offer. I am also learning that it is incredibly easy to make room in my heart for many parts of France.
What I most loved about the Rhone Valley, besides its fabulous wine, is the sweetness of its fruits and the smell of lavender and herbs in the summer breeze. If you are a food lover this area along with cities like Avignon and Lyon are an absolute must visit.
People here are relaxed and happy. They are mostly farmers who work the land to harvest wine, vegetables, and fruits so it’s clear they work hard, but the demeanor is so much more relaxed and a pleasure to be around.
As far as road trips through France, it’s one of my favorite ways to do it (the train is nice too) because of the beautiful scenery in the area. Driving through France can seem nerve wrecking for some, but after doing it on my own through the Loire Valley and then again with my family, I want to make it easier for you to try it too.
For starters, here is the map guide to help you plan your trip with links to my stops. (Click on the map image for direct link to the map with driving instructions). You can also view the full itinerary of my Rhone Valley Travels in Atout France’s website!
About the photography
All photographs were taken with my Canon Rebel T61 using the 18-135MM Canon Lens. I loved the detailed captured with these lens and the stabilizer was awesome for quick shots while on the move. The quality of portraits was fun to capture, and in a place like Provence where the light is so perfect, having such a great lens really helped to capture the images beautifully. Not ideal for video, but it offers a lot of diversity for the travel shots you’ll want to capture in a trip such as this.
Here are some of my favorite stops along the region, which makes for a fun road trip.
I started and ended my trip in the Medieval city of Avignon, a UNESCO World heritage site. I want desperately to return here and spend more time. Highlights of my short visit were the Popes Palace and staying at the lovely B&B of Maison Boussingaut, but really there is so much more left to be discovered. It’s a small city bustling with happy energy, history, and beauty. I heard that it is also a mecca for musicians and artists around the country many of which help bring the city alive especially during the festivals held throughout the summer months.
Maison Boussingaut is a quaint and quiet home stay right in the center of town. Ask for one of the rooms with direct access to the deck. I absolutely loved sitting here with my wine glass while I read my book and magazines as I rested from my trip.
Stay at Domaine de la Camarette
This Domaine de la Camarette is surrounded by grape vines, olive and fruit trees, herbs, and lavender. As far as firsts nights in the region go, this is a great one. Though they no longer produce their own wines (instead they harvest the grapes and sell to other wine makers), they do produce their own olive oils. Ask to try it with your meal. You have the option of getting a room in the house or your own private villa, pictured below.
Take a tour with Cave TerraVentaux
Have a special lunch at Chene Bleu Winery
A blue painted tree marks the entrance to this gorgeous French winery, home of spectacular views and incredibly refreshing wines.
Stay in the luxurious villa, host a special event, or just come for a tour. Make sure to schedule a tour with a meal. Their signature Bento Box lunch is a treat of French delights paired perfectly with their wines and served in a lovely wine tasting salon, filled with the glorious natural light enjoyed all throughout the region.
Photograph and tour the Medieval village of Séguret
Séguret is a wine village in the Rhone Valley, full of character. It also holds a strong presence in wine culture and considered to be one of the most beautiful villages in all of France. It is fun to walk through with its winding cobblestone streets and little alleyways. Stop into the tea shop in town for spectacular views, tea, and homemade cakes.
Rest your head at Domaine Dieulefit
Domaine Dieulefit is owned and operated by the Pouizin family, which has been growing wine since 1922, this beautiful winery is also home to a newly renovated B&B. The organic approach to wine growing is fabulous, a practice that aims to protect the peaceful and lush natural environment guests get to enjoy from the moment the put down their bags and grab a glass. But Rémi Pouizin and his wife are also wonderful hosts and make you feel welcomed right away. A wonderful stay for anyone, but especially for couples looking for a quiet retreat in a beautiful environment.
Indulge at Restaurant Coteaux et Fourchettes
One of the most lovely dining experiences for me was at Coteaux et Fourchettes where Chef Cyril Glémot put together dishes beautifully paired with wines of the region. What is especially lovely is that what you pay for the wine is what the market value is, as opposed to having to deal with the standard up-charge incurred when ordering wines in restaurants. On a good day and if the Mistral wind isn’t too strong, make sure to sit outside. The view of the vineyard and the picturesque blue sky make your time there feel like a dream.
Take wine classes at the University of Suze-la-Rousse Wine
The minute I walked into this wine university I dreamed of being able to stay and learn everything I possibly could about wine – from growing it to tasting it. This is wine church and people come from all over the world to learn. But, if you are only in town for a few weeks, you can still take advantage of the shorter courses offered in English for visiting students and tourists into the area. In my opinion, this is a total bucket list item.
Go cave exploring in the Saint Marcel caves and wine warehouse
Most people who visit the caves Saint Marcel ‘Ardeche visit to explore the paved terrain in this ancient spot and view the scenery of the networks inside. But, if you are feeling a bit more adventurous, then you go caving with Escale Adventure. The experience can be intense or maybe just enough to make you feel like there is nothing you could do. In my case, I hiked and crawled through tunnels with several wine makers from Saint Marcel, led by wine-grower Raphael Pommier.
Never, ever underestimate the depths that I would go into in search of a good glass of wine!
Raphael, with his wife Rachel, also own the B&B Domaine Notre Dame de Cousignac, from which they produce their wine. If you are planning a wedding, give them a look. The views are stunning and the small village and country surroundings are like a painting.
I really enjoyed getting to spend time with Rachel Pommier and her family. What beautiful people and friendly hosts.
Hike to the hilltops for your wine
Not into crawling through caves? Well, how about hiking up hilltops? The reward is wine tasting, if you’d like, and you can experience it all at Chateau Mourgues du Gres. Take a leisurely walk, go on a hike, or ride a bike, and then reward yourself with a wine tasting hour or maybe even a stay in the Chateau.
Domaine des Clos
Whether you are visiting as a couple or traveling as a family, the beauty of Domaine des Clos is everything you will love about Southern France. The gardens are awe-inspiring and relaxing, the pool is gorgeous and entertaining for the kids, and the charisma of hosts and owners, David and Sandrine Ausset, will easily make this a favorite. It is for many travelers who return year after year for all the reasons I mentioned already and for Sandrine’s cooking which, I must say, is spectacular. What’s even more amazing is that they are simply dishes she grew up with and were passed down to her by her family. Hmmm. Home-cooked French meals are the best!
I fell in love with this couple for their passion and friendliness and for the way they left it all behind in Paris, found what used to be an abandoned and decrepit 18th century farmhouse, and converted it – all while raising a growing family – into the picturesque B&B that it is today. A visit here and hearing their story has a way of making you feel like all your dreams are possible too!
The more I travel to France, the more convinced I am that this is among the most beautiful countries in the world. I am always so welcomed here and leave feeling like everyone I met could be a friend for a lifetime. This trip was especially interesting because almost everyone I met only spoke French, and though my French is OK,it isn’t my first language, but I worked through it and in the process everyone I met worked with me. I had conversations that made me laugh, and some even made me teary. I had moments where I didn’t want to ever leave. There are many things that I love about travel, but it is the experiences that I continuously have in ever region I explore throughout France, that make travel here such an enriching journey that I want to repeat over and over.
May my stories and images inspire your own adventure and may it be filled with as much friendship, wine, and laughter as mine were. Check all my different adventures through France here on the blog!
All photos are property of Girl Gone Travel® and may not be used without direct consent from the publisher.
This story was in partnership with Atout France.