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Provence

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Discover
the Routes
du Bonheur of...

Gilles Ozello
View all the Routes du Bonheur

Sommelier of the Oustau de Baumanière
My ‘wine and vineyards’ tour through Provence

Welcome to Provence, that land of wellbeing and AOC wines! I designed this Wine Route to give the best possible introduction to these terroirs, which stretch from the rolling hills of Rochegude, in the Drôme, to the harsh, dry slopes of Castillon-du-Gard. The sheer mention of these vineyards has superlatives tripping off the tongue. The rich wines of Côtes-du-Rhône, Gigondas, Rasteau and Baumes-de-Venise (subtle fortified wines…), the delicate blends of Luberon wine, powerful Châteauneuf-du-Pape, fruity Tavel rosé wines… – they cannot fail to appeal to the senses!

And you cannot help but fall in love with the region. I was born near Aix-en-Provence, and, from a very young age, I shared with my uncle, a wine-grower, the vicissitudes and delights of the vineyard. I remain under the spell of Provence. I love the way that the limestone and the olive groves come together, the contrasts between the aridity and the strong scents released after a fall of rain. I love the valley of the Durance and the radiance of its light. There is such diversity in the varieties of grape, of terroirs, of villages… – after more than thirty years spent as sommelier at L’Oustau de Baumanière, my feelings for this region, a region which has allowed me to share so many of its delights with R&C guests, remain undiminished.

Departure: Avignon (Avignon TGV station).
Arrival: Avignon (Avignon TGV station).

Relais & Châteaux proposes its Routes du Bonheur for your inspiration: they are suggestions of itineraries that you can adapt to your preferences and desired experiences. Our advisors are at your disposal to individualise your routes and help you make reservations at our properties.
Example for a four-night stay from €889*
* Minimum indicative rate per person, subject to availability, on the basis of a double room with double occupancy, including accommodation, breakfast and dinner (menu, without beverages) in the properties suggested for the itinerary.
Activities on site and nearby must be reserved by you.

My Route du Bonheur
Stage 1: 2 days, one night

Château de Rochegude

A medieval escape to the kingdom of truffles and black olives
Château de Rochegude
Imagine a Provençal village with a 12th century castle towering over it. Here you are at the Château de Rochegude, a magnificent castle and gourmet restaurant overlooking the Côtes du Rhône vineyards and Mount Ventoux, not far from the ancient Roman theatre of Orange. This is the land of the truffle where you can enjoy a ‘château’ lifestyle amongst period furniture, with a wellness centre, terrace, gardens and 10 hectares of a superb deer park. The perfect setting-off point for the Wine Route.

Close to the property...

The science of wine at the Wine University in Suze-la-Rousse

When you arrive at this prestigious Wine University, housed in the superb 12th century castle of Suze-la-Rousse, you will receive a professional introduction to oenology, the science of wine. Which varieties work well together, how wine is produced, sensory analysis, tasting…, within this inner sanctuary of the Côtes du Rhône vineyards, you will receive some of the keys to a knowledge which is born of tradition and modernity.

www.universite-du-vin.com

On the route...

Côtes du Rhône vineyards, from Sainte-Cécile to Gigondas - kilometer 5

You will explore a picturesque itinerary of tiny roads which stretch for a mere 20 km and wind through a terroir of hills and plains that are home to the finest AOC ‘villages’ labels of Côtes du Rhône. At Cairanne, you can enjoy a leisurely sensory trail through the wine cellars, an introduction to the pleasures of the five senses; in Rasteau, you can enjoy the opportunity to taste one of the famous fortified wines from the Rhône valley; in Gigondas, you can sample the subtle blend of Grenache, Syrah and Mourvèdre grape varieties.

www.cave-cairanne.fr
www.rasteau.com
www.gigondas-vin.com

Domaine de Durban, in Beaumes-de-Venise - kilometer 33

I am particularly fond of this spot. The site, itself, is spectacular. The estate is perched up on the slopes above the village, and commands magnificent vistas of the jagged Dentelles de Montmirail, the vineyards, the wooded hills... And best of all, the Leydier family, who have managed the estate since the 1960s, produce what is, in my opinion, one of the best muscats in France. It is fresh, with a delicate aroma and appealing floral notes – an utter delight!

www.domainedurban.com

The antique shops of Isle-sur-la-Sorgue - kilometer 60

This is a small Provençal town, near Avignon, crossed by the river Sorgue. Its tiny bridges, maze of winding streets and antique water wheels give it the romantic old-world charm of the time when it was populated by weavers and dyers. Nowadays, it is known for its arts and crafts and boasts dozens of antique shops. Just the place to while away your free time picking up antique Provençal furniture, earthenware and paintings!

www.oti-delasorgue.fr

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Stage 2: one day, one night

Le Mas des Herbes Blanches

The land of Chagall and the crickets
Le Mas des Herbes Blanches
Nel cuore del Luberon, situato tra i famosi villaggi di Gordes e di Roussillon, ecco un luogo eccezionale, perfetto per coloro che apprezzano raffinatezza, calma e la bellezza selvaggia della Provenza. Dinanzi a un panorama mozzafiato, questa cascina provenzale interamente costruita in pietre essiccate, unisce il fascino di ampie e luminose camere, all’innovativa finezza della gastronomia dello chef Xavier Burelle. Il meglio dell’hotel a mio parere ? la sua piscina, un rettangolo blu di piacere, raccolta tra mura scure.

Close to the property...

The village of Gordes and Sénanque Abbey

Gordes is one of the most beautiful villages in France, and its rock-coloured houses built into the limestone rock face, overlook the gentle Luberon landscape. I find the typical atmosphere of its castle and its tiny winding streets or ‘calades’ totally irresistible. Next door, the village of Les Bories is reminiscent of the rural life of yesteryear with its superb dry-stone architecture, while Sénanque Abbey, an austere and majestic edifice, is imbued with unparalleled harmony.

www.gordes-village.com
www.senanque.fr

On the route...

Bonnieux Wineries - kilometer 16

Bonnieux is yet another famous Luberon village, whose reputation is built on its wineries, the oldest in the Vaucluse. Its wine growers have amassed a veritable expertise over a period of more than 90 years. They will offer you their very best wines to taste, wines that have been produced under the Provençal sun and are served by people who have long mastered the ways in which to get the very best out of their native soil. Then you will be able to stop for a leisurely lunch at Edouard Loubet’s excellent Relais & Châteaux, Bastide de Capelongue, in Bonnieux.

www.cave-bonnieux.com

Domaine Les Conques-Soulières, in Cucuron - kilometer 35

The only thing that separates Bonnieux from Cucuron, is the north-south divide which splits the Luberon into twin territories, with the subtlest of differences between them. I would recommend a scenic route through the village of Buoux and then Lourmarin, to get to Cucuron, which is a typical local hillside town. When you get to Domaine Les Conques-Soulières, at the foot of Grand Luberon, there will be the opportunity to sample the excellent wines and olive oils produced by this extremely hospitable family property.

www.cucuron-luberon.com

Grambois, the secret village

Have you ever heard of the village of Grambois? It is a little to the east of Cucuron, and is the perfect example of a Luberon village but one that is off the tourist trail, that is barely known. It is hardly ever mentioned, and so much the better. I am sure that you, like me, will appreciate its general harmony, its perched houses and sloping streets, the relaxing calm of its very fine old houses, nestling in the shade of the trees. I find that Grambois epitomises the atmosphere of Marcel Pagnol’s novel. Get there quick!

www.grambois-provence.com

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Stage 3: one day, one night

Le Prieuré

Authenticity, charm and delight a stone’s throw from the Palais des Papes
Le Prieuré
Le Prieuré, just across the river from Avignon, on the other bank of the Rhône, clearly deserves its reputation for being a ‘haven of peace’. It is a former convent, founded in the 14th century, which centuries later became, under the management of Jean-André Charial, of L’Oustau de Baumanière, a hideaway in the heart of the medieval town of Villeneuve-les-Avignon. Its rooms and suites blend period features with contemporary charm, it offers Provençal cuisine, a pool and a superb ‘curate’s garden’. To my mind, it provides the perfect city break… in the countryside.

Close to the property...

The Old Town and the Palais des Papes

Avignon is known throughout the world for having been the seat of the Papacy between 1309 and 1376, and is proud of its impressive Palais des Papes, the Popes’ residence and Catholic power base for almost a century. It is surrounded by churches, chapels, convents and town houses, sheltered within the city ramparts, which provide the fabric of an old town with an atmosphere all of its own. In the summer the renowned theatre festival brings added excitement. An event not to be missed!

www.avignon-tourisme.com

A Wine Bar in Avignon…

The ‘wine bar’ is, without a doubt, a showcase for wine growing! When you stroll through the streets of the old town in Avignon, you cannot fail to come across one of these wonderful venues where you can delight in tasting a Côtes du Rhône or a Luberon wine, and learn a bit more about it from a passionate wine merchant. You could start by knocking on the door of La Vache à Carreaux, which is tucked in behind the Palais des Papes, and has superb 16th century cellars.

www.vache-carreaux.com

On the route...

Châteauneuf-du-Pape and its wineries - kilometer 23

My absolute favourite! Wine from Châteauneuf-du-Pape is considered to be the supreme Côtes du Rhône wine, and its reputation stretches from the USA to Japan, and it leaves a firm impression on those who taste it. The winegrowers have taken the former papal lands to the north of Avignon with their attractive fortress, and worked the land to coax wonders from it. You’ll see this when you explore the village – the red and white wines available from the shops at the wine estates are mouth-watering indeed.

www.chateauneuf.com

‘Clos des Papes’, in Châteauneuf-du-Pape - kilometer 23

Just think – members of the Avril family, who own this estate, were already papal consuls at the time when the popes came to Châteauneuf. That just shows how historic the terroir Clos des Papes actually is! The wines are magnificent. They are extremely aromatic, very balanced, and stunningly fresh. They are wines with excellent aging capacity, with real depth. They never succumb to the vagaries of fashion and never fail to give me a thrill.

www.clos-des-papes.fr

We can advise you on booking your route. Contact central reservations :

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Phase 4 : 1 day, 1 night

La Maison d'Uzès

A secluded, sophisticated setting in a listed building, in a city surrounded by vineyards, olive groves and the garrigue...
La Maison d'Uzès
This house is a beautiful building dating back to the 17th century whose stone is highlighted first and foremost by beautiful walnut doors and herringbone parquets. Fully renovated, its rooms are all secret rooms arranged around a monumental staircase. In this place, Oscar Garcia, the former second-in-line to Franck Putelat in Carcassonne, offers an imaginative and sunny kind of cuisine. You can enjoy its flavours on the terrace, between the beautiful linden and the fountain, and then stand up and admire the roofs of Uzès…

Close to the property...

Saint-Maximin winery

The wine growers of the commune of Bourdic, who have worked together as a cooperative since 1928, approached their colleagues in Saint-Maximin, a neighbouring village in Castillon-du-Gard, to pool their expertise in wine growing. Thus, they set up the small ‘Collines du Bourdic’ winery inside the ancient cellars in Saint-Maximin, near the Pont du Gard. This has become the place you must visit if you wish to sample these wines from the area between Provence and Languedoc, with their scents of the garrigue. A rather private cellar with much to offer.

www.vins-sud-de-france.com

The Pont du Gard

The Pont du Gard, a ‘Grand Site de France’, is a marvel of Roman architecture. The bridge was built in the 1st century over the river Gard. With its 142 m long arcades standing 49 m above the surface of the river, it is the most spectacular section of an aqueduct that took water from Uzès to Nîmes. It has been immaculately preserved, and great care has been taken to improve access via several paths on both banks of the river which allow visitors to appreciate the exceptional precision and artistry of this work.

www.pontdugard.fr

On the route...

Château d’Aqueria, in Tavel - kilometer 18

You should really make a detour to Tavel to visit the Château d’Aquéria estate. There are 66 hectares of vines grouped round a very fine château which produce the most reliable Tavel that I know. The rosé is very classical in style, and is very fruity with a markedly strawberry nose, some quite spicy notes and considerable intensity of colour. It is a true rosé de repas and I recommend you try it with desserts or strawberry salads!

www.aqueria.com

Barbentane and its Château - kilometer 40

Barbentane, an authentic Provençal village, is off the beaten track, and is set back from the Rhône, several kilometres from Avignon. Behind the fortified gates of Porte Calendale and Porte de Séquier, there is a maze of little streets with splendid town houses including the Maison des Chevaliers, with its Renaissance façade. Outside the city walls, you will find a superb Château with a façade built in the Classical style, a pool and ornamental garden, which are open to the public, a reminder of the sheer wealth enjoyed by aristocratic families in the 18th century.

www.barbentane.fr

We can advise you on booking your route. Contact central reservations :

1 800 735 2478

Indicate the code : VIN-PROVENCE

Calling from another country ? Click here