How wonderful to be here again 2 years after our first visit and to find it is just as fantastic as we remember it! This is really a jewel in the France Passion stops, with room for abut 8 motorhomes with stunning views over the Rhône Valley, the gorgeous wines and a swimming pool to boot!
We got here after a bit of a fiddle this morning, as we were really heading for the motorhome aire at Viviers (Ardeche Department), just south of Montélimar on the D86, but that aire seems to have been shut permanently and, although we could have parked for the day at the port fluvial by the river, we couldn’t have stayed the night, as several notices warned.
As it was already midday and very hot still, we didn’t feel like travelling for too long, so we thought that Châteauneuf-du-Pape, just south of Orange, would be a good bet, as we knew we could get some shade and a swim in the pool.
So we followed the N93N and N7 down south to Orange and then the D976 and D17 here, except that the village was celebrating its annual Medieval Fête and we couldn’t drive through it and had to follow the detour signs, a bit of a long way round.
Still, we got here for 1.15 pm and after a swim and a beer, we enjoyed our lunch before a much needed siesta, as this dry heat (37 ºC today!) really takes your energy out of you.
At about 4 pm, we went for another swim and a wine tasting session at the cave, where we met our very friendly host, Pierre, and I just happened to mention to him that we had come here 2 years before for Adonis’s birthday and that this year we’d be celebrating my 50th in September and he very kindly gave me a bottle of their 2009 Privelège wine. Isn’t that a wonderful gesture! I’m definitely keeping it till the 8th September. We also bought some very special wines again. That was followed by another swim and we were entertained by some guests staying at the gîte doing some antics on the pool: a lot of good-hearted fun.
The pool is shut now, after 8 pm, so we’ve just had a shower using the hose provided to fill water tanks: simply heavenly! Still enjoying the simplest things in life, like a cold water shower when it is so hot!
Yesterday, we stayed at another France Passion site at St Hilaire-du-Rosier (Isere department), where they specialise in cherry products, such as juice, Kirsh, jams, etc as well as walnuts, very aptly named Le Cerices en Fête. This was an easy drive from the campsite at St Pierre d’Albigny following the A43/E70 motorway to Grenoble and A48 and 49 towards Valence, then there’s a choice between the D1092 north or the D1532 south of St Hilaire and we took junction 10 and followed the latter for a more scenic route.
We were there late morning and the proprietor Jocelyne Guilhermet, came to greet us and show us where we could park under a huge tree, where we enjoyed the shade for the rest of the day. She also explained that they would not be there in the afternoon as they were celebrating a friend’s daughter’s wedding, so after lunch, her husband, Jean Paul, gave us a map of a couple of interesting walks we could do and telling us where other motorhomers could park should any more arrive, they left us in charge and off they went. So we relaxed in our new position as custodians of the farm and enjoyed a couple of walks in the surrounding area and down to the river Isere, taking in the views of sunflowers, corn, cherry and walnut trees.
It was a very quiet evening and night and we didn’t even hear them coming back. This morning I popped into the shop and bought some cherry juice, jam and a 2-kg bag of walnuts, which I look forward to enjoying in the autumn and winter.
After saying goodbye, we followed the D532 towards Romans-sur-Isere and the free portion of the A49 towards Valence, then the N7 south to Viviers.
We are just enjoying the most amazing sunset down in the Rhone valley that really has the ‘WOW!’ factor. This, of course is accompanied by the magic sounds of cicadas, which hasn’t stopped at all all day.