Today, our last day exploring Provence, we drove a loop route around the Denetelles du Montmirails, the craggy peaks in the heart of the Côtes du Rhône region, famous for its wine. Our first stop was yet another impossibly picturesque medieval hill town, Le Crestet. Although they are beginning to run together the do each have they’re unique charm. We had hoped to have a nosh at Le Panoramique, which has an amazing view as one might imagine. But alas the place was closed despite the open sign outside. We compared notes and chewed the fat with a couple Canadians before returning to the road.
At the top of 1500 foot Col de la Chaine (Pass of the Chain) we paused to take in the rugged Denetelles.
Down from the pass the valley opened up into lush vineyards. The grapes are ripe and the harvest is just beginning.
For lunch we pulled off on a short dirt road to Côte Vignes restaurant. We were a little early at this prototypical Provençal country kitchen. The staff and family were still having they’re meal before opening up. Madame cheerfully seated us and offered wine, which we declined, and water which we did not, while we waited. They were completely un phased by our presence. It was a wonderful scene watching a French family slowly enjoy there mid-day meal. We felt a little voyeuristic but they really didn’t seem to mind. After a time folks started arriving. Madame gave many the three cheek air kiss denoting family or close friends. Mostly working men, they ate and drank heartily before heading back to work. I must confess we over did it a little. I had a large salad with several thin pieces of toasted baguette each with a piece of warm goat cheese on top. Kay had artichoke hearts stuffed with lardon (Provençal bacon). And that was just the entrée. For la plat it was chicken brochettes with plenty of roast veggies for me and beef in a light brown cream sauce for Kay. How we ever managed to stand up and walked to the car is a mystery.
The rest of our pleasant journey included coffee in Gigondas then back to Vaison La Romaine. Tomorrow we drop the car off in Avignon and leave Provence for the Côtes du Azur, better known to us Yanks as the French Riviera.