Day 5 - waiting for the "cave" to open (Patrick Harding)
Day 5 - waiting for the "cave" to open (Patrick Harding) 
Route summary
£950.00 (2014)
£895.00 (2015)
7 nights B&B, 5 evening meals, 5 picnics, luggage transfers between hotels
Medium - Hard
4-7 hrs each day
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Côtes du Rhône (France)
Gigondas and the foothills of Mont Ventoux
Full Description

A self-guided hike near Mont Ventoux to the north of Provence, taking in the villages of Venasque, Mazan, Le Barroux, Gigondas, Crestet and Vaison, including a circuit in the Dentelles de Montmirail.  End with a night or two in Avignon.

 

Lacy mountains and gourmet food 

To the east of Avignon and its nursery rhyme bridge is an area of extraordinary geological features.  At the centre lies 'le Mont Ventoux' (the windy mountain), beloved - or perhaps not - of Tour de France cyclists, the view of its lonely summit a constant theme to our walking, although we opt for its greener foothills in this less-visited area of Provence. The walk starts and ends in villages perched atop a cliff: medieval Venasque, climbing high for views to the peaks of the 'Dentelles de Montmirail' (lace points) where you will walk later in the week.  From Venasque to Mazan, maybe upgrading to the Marquis de Sade's former home, tiny Le Barroux, Gigondas, before a triumphant walk, via the narrow streets of Crestet, into Vaison-la-Romaine with its Roman bridge.  And of course as this is France, the food and wine are most definitely not of secondary importance.  Each hotel boasts a good kitchen delivering meals of greater or lesser complexity and opportunities for tasting not only the well-known regional wines but also Vacqueyras whites and a variety of 'marcs'.  Why not time your walk to see Vaison's Tuesday market, stocking up on delicacies to take home, before transferring to Avignon to spend a night or two in this historic centre - the Palais des Papes, the bridge and also the fascinating side streets and museums. 

 

Walked by On Foot staff: Simon and Debbie


Highlights
  • Avignon - the bridge and the Palais des Papes
  • Wine - from gutsy Gigondas to sweet Beaumes de Venise
  • Walking in the Dentelles, the foothills of Provence's highest peak, Mont Ventoux
  • Crestet - a medieval 'village perché' dominated by 9th century ruins, with fabulous views
  • Vaison's Roman bridge and its Tuesday market
  • Gourmet food ...

WE RECOMMEND:  A day or two in historic Avignon (where the popes resided during the fourteenth century and for a period even had a pope in opposition to the Rome one!). Save a rest day to the end of the walk, in walled Vaison-la-Romaine, and try to time it for a Tuesday (market day).

 

EATING AND DRINKING:  Huw at Les Geraniums (night 4) recommends "2 plats très populaires - Ballotin de volaille farci aux champignons, sauce crème - Vin : Fondreche Rouge, et - La Souris d'Agneau Vigneronne - Vin Gigondas rouge", while Thierry at Les Florets (nights 5 & 6) suggests "Pigeon : suprême rôti et cuisse confite, pomme farcie au foie gras, jus à la cannelle, avec le vin - Gigondas rouge, Domaine la Garrigue" (this is is own family vineyard!).

Route map
Côtes du Rhône (France) route map
Route designed by
Régis Leroy has been a mountain guide across the world for 20 years, but don't let that worry you!  He has devised for On Foot a walking route around his beloved home area of the Vaucluse, a region which he knows intimately.  A consummate and sociable Frenchman, Régis speaks good English and you will find him and his wife Patricia willing and helpful.