Having lived in France in the 1980’s and taken annual holidays there every year for nearly twenty years, a four year gap except for a winter visit to Paris left us with withdrawal symptoms. Our two week break in France consisted of one week in our favourite area, the Vaucluse or at least the part that has a view of Mont Ventoux, bounded by a two stop journey south and a more leisurely return taking in the Beaujolais and Burgundy wine areas. We left Yorkshire fairly early to catch a midday tunnel crossing, giving us time to visit the Crystal d’Arques factory shop to replenish our stock of wine glasses. Our first stop over was at Le Sapinière, a Logis in the village of Wisqes, just off sortie 3 on the A26. It was our first visit there. The rooms were reasonably priced and the food excellent so we used it on the return journey as well.Our second night was spent at the upmarket Beau Rivage in Condrieu on the Rhone South of Vienne. For dinner we had the tasting menu with wines included, giving us the opportunity to taste a number of expensive and marvellous bottles. We particularly enjoyed the tartare of dorade and the langoustine set on a bed of tomatoes and peas, dressed with vinaigrette of mango pulp. On the wine front we were particularly impressed by the white Saint Joseph. In the morning we consulted the Concierge on wine addresses. He advised avoiding the expensive big names around the village. and directed to the property of Stephane Montez, Domaine de Monteillet, at the village of Chavanay, a few miles to the south.
The property is set high up on the lip of the Rhone valley with a great view of the river and one of the many nuclear power stations that adorn it. We bought some of his petit Condrieu as well as some 2011 white Saint Joseph. We then hurried down the left bank to get to the Cave at Tain L’ Hermitage before the midi shutdown. We bought some more white Saint Joseph and Saint Perray. Rejoining the autoroute at Tournus we reached our objective at Sablet, a classic fortified medieval village in the late afternoon. It consists of three concentric levels of houses leading to the church at the top. Our apartment was comfortable and well equipped, with good internet connection and British TV via satellite. The restaurant that we remember in the village has been modernised to serve pizza, tapas etc so we searched out a new one, Les Abeilles (The bees), on the edge of the village. It turned out to be pretentious and expensive- we were stung!
Next morning we rose early to walk in the cool, leaving Sablet for the vines of Chateau de Trignon, one of our favourite Gigondas makers, passing Domaine de Gayan and enjoying the marvellous view of The Dentelle peaks on our circular walk back to the village for breakfast.
To be continued.
Novels by Alan CalderThe Glorious Twelfth published by Museitup
The Stuart Agenda published by Willowmoon www.amazon.co.uk/dp/B005BJ3GNI