Keith Van SickleTasteWines and Spirits of Provence

Gigondas a Rhône Wine Village with a View

Are you looking for a place with beautiful views, excellent food, and fabulous wines? Then consider Gigondas in the southern Rhône Valley.

This region has been producing excellent wines for over 2,000 years, from when it was part of the Roman Empire. The Romans liked the wines from Gigondas so much that they named it Jocunditas, or “delight,” and the name evolved into the modern Gigondas.

Gigondas wines are similar to those of its famous neighbour, Châteauneuf-du-Pape—most are red and are mostly made from the Grenache grape. The wines of both these villages have achieved cru status, the highest rank of the Rhône classification system. But while the wines may be similar, the prices are not, with Gigondas being much more affordable.

Gigondas Dentelles public domain

Perched on a mountainside, the village overlooks the famous vineyards. Above it are the jagged, rocky crests of the Dentelles de Montmirail, a small mountain range. Even in a region known for its natural beauty, Gigondas stands out.

Things to See and Do

Every summer, contemporary artists install their sculptures around the medieval parts at the top of the village. This Cheminement des Sculptures (Sculpture Path) lets you discover a dozen works here and there among the terraces, ramparts, and gardens. Colour is given pride of place this year to celebrate the 50th anniversary of Gigondas wines being promoted to cru status.

This summer, there will be a sensory circuit called Atelier Sensoriel, where the aromas of Gigondas wines are presented through twelve notes in three stages. There is even a special space for kids! Don’t miss an amazing film on the geologic formation of the Dentelles de Montmirail.

Above the town is a walking path with fabulous views over the vineyards, nearby villages, and even a medieval watchtower. Be sure to climb up the viewing platform for the best views, but hold onto your hat—it can be windy up there!

Gigondas vineyards Notre dame des pallieres

©Notre Dame des Pallières

There’s nothing like biking through French vineyards, so consider renting an electric bike and exploring the surrounding countryside. Don’t miss the village of Séguret, 7km away and one of the Most Beautiful Villages of France. Only 10km further is Vaison la Romaine, a charming town with some of the best Roman ruins in France.

Eating and Drinking

Gigondas makes wine tasting easy at the Caveau du Gigondas, a tasting room that offers the wines of many of the village’s winemakers all in one place. Sip, savour, compare, and then pick up a few bottles. My personal favourite is Notre Dame des Pallières, an under-the-radar producer of excellent wines, with a friendly tasting room just north of town.

Gigondas grapes Notre Dame des palliers

©Notre Dame des Pallières

If you’d like a casual meal, I love Du Verre à l’Assiette, with good food and reasonable prices. They have comfortable outdoor seating, and there’s nothing like a leisurely lunch under leafy trees on a warm summer day.

Du Verre à l’Assiette (website)
Place du Portail,
84190 Gigondas

For gastronomic fare, L’Oustalet is the place to go. Holder of a coveted Michelin star, it attracts foodies from all over. Be sure to make your reservations early!

L’Oustalet (website)
5 Place Gabrielle Andéol,
84190 Gigondas

Where to Stay Nearby

Fontaine des Magnarelles is a charming Bed and Breakfast located in the heart of Provence, in the famous southern Rhône valley and a short drive from Avignon. Constructed with traditional stone, the 18th-century Provençal country house has five (5) spacious guest bedrooms.

Le Prieuré La Madelène is the site of a former 12th-century Benedictine priory nestled in Malaucène at the foot of Mont Ventoux. This Bed and Breakfast with five (5) guest bedrooms, a private cottage (gîte), is located just a few minutes from Vaison La Romaine.

Home away from home: a beautiful stone house in the middle of Sablet, within walking distance of boulangerie, cafe, butcher, news store, grocery store, pharmacy and medical offices. Three (3) bedroom house and three (3) full bathrooms. Sablet is known for its Côte du Rhone wines. Just as charming as all of the “touristy” villages, this working wine town has year-round services.

This article is based on content that Keith is collecting for his third book, “An Insiders Guide to Provence,” with a publication date of December 2021. Click here to pre-order the book.

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Keith Van Sickle

Keith Van Sickle

Keith and Val Van Sickle made their first trip to Provence decades ago, and it was love at first sight. After that, they came back every year until 2008, when they began a part-time life there, splitting their time between Provence and California.

Over the years, they’ve travelled all over Provence, seeing sights both well-known and obscure. Their French friends have introduced them to favourite restaurants and wineries and picnic spots and taught them funny local expressions (not all for polite company).

Keith now shares this local knowledge in his new book, An Insider’s Guide to Provence. Packed with the Van Sickles’ favourite things to see and do, it’s a must-have for anyone travelling to this glorious corner of France.

Keith previously published two books about the couple's experiences in Provence. One Sip at a Time: Learning to Live in Provence, and Are We French Yet?, both are available from Amazon.

You can see all of Keith’s blog posts at Life in Provence.

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