We leave to Pagnol all the extrapolations to keep only the true talk of this Drôme allotted Provencal. Bunches of lavender as far as the eye can see, wheat fields studded with cheerful poppies, the silvery reflection of olive trees playing with the blonde stone of the high-perched villages and an art of taking life only by its good sides: this region indeed has all of Provence for it, modesty and authenticity in addition.
Montélimar, delicacies and unmissable visits
You will be dropped off at Montélimar station, which already reveals its honey-nougat sparkles under the rays of the sun. Then we go out onto a square flooded with light, conversations chirp, a large park with a sheltered terrace that holds the departures and welcomes the arrivals ... Everything is there: we are in a region of hourly pleasures where even time ignores the notion of a dial if it is not solar. To see, to do there is, but as everything is about atmosphere, we'll start by eating while strolling through the streets of the old town. The ochre facades reinforce the patina of the ancient city of the Adhémar de Monteil whose anagram is the name of Montélimar. The walk is pleasant, here are a few gourmet shops, there are a few craft shops and at the end, there, the Place aux Herbes which tells the tale of the wicker baskets, market day. Instead, on Saturday mornings, it is animated by the producers of picodons from Dieulefit, olives from Nyons, truffles from Tricastin and a bunch of market gardeners, most of them organic, the Drôme being the first French department of organic agriculture. Don't miss the cheerful Organic Fair which takes place in Montfroc at the beginning of October. We then head off to the Jardin des Senteurs in the new Saint-Martin district, which has also transformed its barracks into an art centre. An olfactory escapade that we continue to the municipal park, very pleasant in this tidy mess typical of English gardens. Around a lake, six hectares of greenery serve as a setting for the old Musical Ride of the 1900s and the small bandstand. The perfect place to taste the local madeleine. The Montilians have been preparing nougat since the 19th century, and the factories now open their doors to the public, revealing to gourmets the secrets of this sweetness which has its own appellation. Before leaving this quiet city, we salute the Adhémar castle, a former residential palace transformed into a bastioned citadel and then into a pleasure residence, and a prison before being this Centre for Contemporary Art
On the road to drôme villages
The Drôme landscape is a real enchantment... No sooner have we taken the Dieulefit road than the sky opens up to illuminate the lavender fields, the silvery leaves of the olive trees, the orange-red of the poppies and the golden stone of the ageless villages. Le Poët, which once served as a commandery for the Order of the Hospitallers, was quickly built. One could swear to be propelled back to medieval times. The remains of the castle and the Romanesque chapel of Saint-Jean-des-Commandeurs, the ramparts, the narrow streets, the wash-house and a view that caresses the Jabron valley: all these are arguments that have promoted it among the Most Beautiful Villages in France. In the chapter of beautiful stones, the Drôme also boasts the village of Grignan, made famous by Madame de Sévigné buried under the marble of the collegiate church. Decorated with 400 rosebushes that escape from between the stones, the medieval village is entwined in calades preserved by a belt of ramparts that holds memories of night festivals, the old belfry and the neoclassical washhouse.
At its feet is the Place du Mail which has exchanged its players of mail for those of petanque, at its feet also refers to the most beautiful address in the region: Le Clair de la Plume. Go and visit the workshop-museum of the book called Colophon, this former house of the Bailiff maintains as much the memory and the history of printing. Buis-les-Baronnies, Montbrun-les-Bains, Saint-Restitut, Suze-la-Rousse, Châteauneuf-de-Mazenc, Puygiron, Rochegude, etc. The round of villages goes on and on and, if you had to make a choice, you would climb up to the Garde-Adhémar, also classified as one of the most beautiful villages in France. The octagonal bell tower of its Romanesque church looks down on the buttocks of the angels from the perfectly preserved medieval village
In the Drôme, activities in chaos
As exciting as it is, the Drôme is above all a region of enthusiasts. Didn't these two brothers have to be cold-blooded to set up a crocodile farm in Pierrelatte, which, let's not forget, is not really a local species? In any case, more than 300,000 visitors come every year to admire crocodiles and albino alligators and Durance now shines internationally. And what about Valrhona chocolate, prized by all the starred tables? Well maybe the company will inaugurate the Cité du Chocolat on October 24th, which will reveal all the secrets hidden in your favourite chocolate bars. Three examples drawn from among a thousand things to do along the 2,500 kilometres of marked trails. Observe the birds of prey at the Maison des vautours de Rémuzat; visit the classified geological site of La Charce; climb the Ubrieux gorges; ride a horse through the Dieulefit country or work on your swing at the 18-hole golf course of La Valdaine
Wines, truffles, honey or garlic, long live the terroir!
End of the day. The warmth gives way to sweetness on this terrace where you can enjoy a glass of wine and a few olives while watching the moiré landscape: there are still some clichés that have soft skin! What about the little black olives from Nyons that give the PDO olive oils such a fruity taste? Labelled Remarkable site of taste, the Nyonsais produces the Tanche that you will find in the cooperative of the town Vignolis, in pasta, jams, tapenades and medallion oils. From the yellow gold we go to the black gold of the truffles of Tricastin which is the first truffle region in France; moreover, go to the Maison de la truffe in Saint-Paul-Trois-Châteaux to sharpen your truffle! Among other treasures, you will also enjoy the picodon that you will pick up directly from the farm in Pracoutel, the honey produced by the beekeepers in Roussas, the syrups and liqueurs from the Eyguebelle estate and the absolutely irresistible Drômois garlic when it is candied in olive oil from Nyons, of course!
So many flavours brightened up by the know-how of this beautiful wine region! It thus produces côtes-du-rhône, côtes-du-rhône village, Vinsobre - admire the oxymoron - and the AOC grignan-les-adhémar formerly called côteaux-du-tricastin. All of which promise a very gentle and serene evening under the starry sky of the Drôme Provençale!
When? From the first fine days until the end of September when the sweetness continues tenderly. The region then glides towards autumn with gluttony...
Go there. By train, count 2h40 from Paris to Montélimar station; on the south side, regular connections with Marseille and Montpellier. By car, Motorway A7, exits Montélimar north or south or Motorway A51, exit Sisteron then take the N7.
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