Are you planning on visiting the great Rhône Valley wine estates?
The gorgeous vineyards of the Rhône Valley in South-Eastern France, which is the second largest producer of AOC wines in nation, can be explored through Winalist’s top wine tours and tastings. Tourists will have the opportunity to partake on guided excursions as well as oenological workshops hosted by local wineries throughout this picturesque valley.
Have you ever heard of the famous Rhône Valley appellations like Côte-Rôtie, Condrieu, Saint Joseph and Crozes Hermitage? If not, now is your chance to explore these beautiful villages with a history that dates back centuries. Surrounded by flourishing vineyards and ancient sites, it’s time for an unforgettable journey in this gorgeous region! Let’s explore the vineyards of the Rhone Valley, France.
Let’s go on the Rhône wine route, and start with the North, also called Septentrionale.
Visiting the Northern Rhone Valley: top stops
The northern section of the Rhône Valley, spanning 4,700 hectares from Vienne to Valence, enjoys a unique mix of both continental and Mediterranean climates. Further distinguishing it is that vines in these regions are planted on terraces for maximum exposure.
All the great red wines of the Northern Rhône come from the same grape variety: Syrah (read more about this incredible grape!). The flagship appellations are Côte-Rôtie, Condrieu, Saint-Joseph, Crozes-Hermitage, Hermitage, etc. During your stay, you will have the opportunity to visit cities such as Vienne or Tain L’Hermitage, but also large houses such as Chapoutier or Guigal.
Visit the Rhone Valley’s city of Lyon
It would be a shame to visit the Rhône Valley and not make a stopover in the vineyards and village of Lyon. Listed as a UNESCO World Heritage Site for its famous historic center, Lyon is just starting to suprise you.
Visiting the vineyards of Lyon means appreciating food and wine pairings. Lyon is known for its rosette, its pike dumplings, its corks, its splendid Fête des Lumières…and its beautiful surrounding vineyards.
In the heart of Lyon, discover the Chai Saint Olive, an unusual place located in the 6ᵉ arrondissement. Indeed, through the high windows of 34 rue Malesherbes, passers-by can observe these large stainless steel tanks.
10km west of Lyon are the first vines covering the Monts du Lyonnais, those of the Coteaux du Lyonnais. Much further south of Lyon, we venture towards the famous Côte-Rôtie, near Vienne.
This ancient Roman city offers many places of history: temple, theaters, city of Saint-Romain-en-Gal… This city being labeled city of “Art and History” since 1990, you can stroll through its medieval streets and medieval monuments.
Ampuis is the cradle of the Côte-Rôtie appellation and many visits await you there. The Château d’Ampuis, from the steep hillsides of Côte-Rôtie, you can see this former stately residence and its vast glazed tile roof. The cellar of the castle, discover a unique place located in the heart of the Côte-Rôtie vineyard, dedicated to the great wines of the Rhône Valley, to culture, heritage and gastronomy.
Located at the crossroads of three departments, Condrieu has a rich history. In the heart of the Regional Natural Park of Pilat, it benefits from the charm of a wild and protected nature. Explore the vineyards and taste the local products of the Rhône Valley: The prestigious Condrieu white wine or the Rigote de Condrieu, a small ladle-moulded goat’s cheese, should delight your taste buds.
Tain l’Hermitage has many discoveries in store for you! Côtes du Rhône wines and gourmet chocolate make Tain-l’Hermitage a popular destination with epicurean travelers and are the main attractions for visitors. Hermitage is one of the greatest wines of France. It covers 3 towns on the left bank of the Drôme: Tain-l’Hermitage, Crozes-Hermitage and Larnage. Sheltered from the north wind, most of the hillsides face south, thus benefiting from much sunshine exposure.
On the other side of the Rhône, in Hauterives, it is time to discover the ideal Palace of the postman horse. If you want to visit the Rhone Valley, don’t miss this magical place. Postman Cheval’s Ideal Palace is a masterpiece independent of any artistic movement. It takes you into an imaginary world created by Ferdinand Cheval, a postman in the 1800s. This former postman, picked up stones during his rounds as a postman and built his own Hindu-style palace for 33 years. Unique in the world, the visit to this work of art will not fail to amaze you.
Then board the Ardèche train and follow a line dug into the side of the mountain, more than 100 years alod. You will discover the spectacular landscapes of the Doux gorges. Several routes will take you on board to a vintage steam train: whistles, the smell of coal, the sound of the locomotive: an unforgettable journey in a breathtaking setting.
Finally, end your wine route in the northern Rhône Valley with a visit to Valence and discover its rich heritage. Dominated by its cathedral, old Valence has retained its picturesque streets and houses on the site of the old city ramparts. You can discover its must-see sites such as the Peynet kiosk, the Saint Bernard collegiate church and the port of l’Epervière.
Let’s tackle the southern or southern part of the Rhône Valley!
The Southern Rhone Valley
The southern zone begins in Montélimar and ends in Avignon, i.e. 71,000 hectares, meaning a lot of vineyards to visit! Thisarea benefits from the warmest climate and a much more diversified grape variety. The flagship appellation of the Southern Rhône is Châteauneuf-du-Pape. This wine route in the southern Rhône valley will allow you to cross the departments of Drôme, Vaucluse or even Ardèche and discover other specific appellations of the region such as Gigondas. Unlike the northern Rhône where Syrah is predominant, it is Grenache that dominates in the southern part of the valley.
And if we say Montélimar to you, you answer “Nougat”, don’t you? To find out all about these sweets made from almonds, honey, sugar and beaten egg whites, go to the Arnaud-Soubeyran Nougat Museum, in the heart of the town’s oldest factory. Recently redesigned, this unique place retraces the history of this confectionery. A visit to combine with a visit to the shop to bring gourmet memories with you!
Further south of Montélimar, go to Grignan-les-Adhémar for a visit to the Domaine de Grangeneuve for an electric bike ride in the heart of the vineyards accompanied by a tasting of 4 wines.
And if you like legends, go to the Domaine de la Bouvaude for an original night walk to discover the secrets and mysteries that surround the vines and the terroir.
Then head for the famous village of Châteauneuf-du-Pape. Nestled on a hill, this village can be visited by foot in order to discover its many monuments: the 14th century Château des Papes, classified as a historic monument in 1892, the 12th century Notre Dame de l’Assomption church, the oratories, the from Hers…
Suze la Rousse
Built on a hill, above a vast plain of vineyards, the castle of Suze-la-Rousse, in Drôme, is visible from afar. A medieval fortress transformed into a large residence in the 16th and then in the 18th century, it is a clever mix between the austerity of the exterior defenses and the delicacy of the facades built in the Renaissance. In this monument sits the University of Wine, a school offering training around the vine.
Then, it is time to reach the city of Avignon, nicknamed the City of the Popes. World famous for its contemporary theater festival, Avignon is home to many ramparts, mansions, bell towers, churches and the magnificent palace of the popes that you can visit.
Nestled in the heart of Avignon, you will find the Palais des Papes – a striking Gothic structure that was home to nine different popes during the 14th century.
Constructed between 1335 and 1355, this impressive building can be explored on your own or with an expert guide who will provide all sorts of insight into its architectural history. In addition to taking in stunning views from within its walls, visitors have access to several exhibitions as well!
Let’s end this journey in the Rhône Valley with Beaucaire. A historic monument offering a breathtaking view of the Rhône Valley, the Abbey of Saint-Roman is a former troglodyte monastery.
Occupied since prehistoric times thanks to its numerous caves, the site has been shaped over the centuries, in particular by monks. Its visit allows you to admire, among other things, rock tombs, a medieval wine press, an abbey chapel, cells or even the remains of fortifications.
Rhone Valley Wine Route FAQs
How to follow the Rhone Wine Route?
There is only one way to travel on the Rhone Wine Route: follow the Rhone and let you guide from Vienne to Avignon, trough Valence and Montélimar!
What appellations are from the Rhone Valley?
During your road-trip in the Rhone Valley, you will pass by these following appellations: Côte-Rôtie, Condrieu, Saint-Joseph, Crozes-Hermitage, Côtes du Rhône, Châteauneuf-du-Pape, Gigondas.
How to book wine expperiences?
You can book your visists, picnic and tastings before arriving in France to make sure everything is properly settled. Find everything you can do with Winalist in the Rhone Valley!