From the Ardeche we headed to Provence, taking the scenic route over the hills suggested
by Melvyn & Paull. We stayed in the ancient village of Mirmande, where they booked us into a charming old hotel, which has been recently restored. Mirmande is a walled village hundreds of years old, and inaccessible to cars. It's narrow, steep and cobbled streets aren't even mapped so we set off in the early evening to find our own way around.
Provence offered up beautiful balmy weather, getting up into the 40's in the late afternoon, and our hotel room though tiny even by French standards provided us a wonderful view across a productive Provencal landscape to the hills of Ardeche.
Now we were able to drive "topless" in our convertible, and had been directed to some very good wineries by Melvyn and Paull. We would have never found Rosier without those directions, nor enjoyed a personal tasting in the cool dark underground cellar with the winemaker/ owner. His English was as bad as our French but his wines were great, so despite the language issues we successfully bought a few bottles.
We even travelled on the Route de Brian - seriously, see the photographic evidence.
This was en route to Grignan which is another ancient fortified town with an impressive Renaissance chateau at the top of the hill, where a celebrated 17th century French author Madame de Sevigne spent time with her daughter, the then countess.
The chateau was later destroyed in the French Revolution but restored in the 20th century. It is now a centre for arts and they had seats and stage erected in the courtyard for the annual Theatre Festival held in the evenings in mid summer - this year being a production of Shakespeare's Measure by Measure, in French of course. In the dim coolness of the private chapel under the chateau, we found a young man playing the organ for the one or two people like us who stopped to listen.
The area we explored in depth was the Drome, and in Montelimar we stopped to buy some
of the local nougat for which the town is renowned. And everywhere we went in France, the croissant des amandes ranks right up there with crème brulee, and fermented grapes as an obligatory tasting experience.
We ate at restaurants in Mirmande and Cliouslat recommended again by Melvyn & Paull, and enjoyed great local food at reasonable prices. The tourist season here seemed to be just beginning and Jen wished she had more French vocab. Brian kicked back and was just pleased to let Jen do the talking.
TASTE DU VIN........