Now that you know what to expect in terms of the terrain, varieties and classifications of the French Rhône Valley from my last post, I’ll include my list of favorite meals and wines from Avignon to Vienne. I’ll do a breakdown of Lyon another time as this food-centric town deserves its own post. *Remember, in France, if you have your heart set on a restaurant you should get a reservation. The same applies to wineries.
Due to the fact that we are traveling frequently this year, I can’t take a month to plan out every single meal in advance. I wouldn’t want to even if I did. In my quest to find the best places, I seek out one or two restaurants or wineries online from a valid source (not TripAdvisor)- Wine Folly, Food and Wine, Anthony Bourdain etc. If the experience wins me over I seek referrals for future meals and wineries from the owner or staff. It has proven to be an effective way to navigate a new area.
Avignon (Southern Rhône Valley)
Avignon has it all: night life, history, food and wine. Ginette and Marcel is a casual lunch spot that serves traditional French tartines, which are thick slices of country bread with various toppings. The dessert options consist of tarts or little jars of sweet deliciousness. It’s simple, affordable but tasty. The outdoor terrace on the square allows one to absorb the bustling Avignon-vibe while enjoying his/her meal.
Le Cochon Bleu is a more off the beaten path restaurant that we discovered through a friend who visited Avignon a month before us. The menu consists of approximately 4 main dishes, 4 starter options and a few desserts. You can mix and match le formule you like depending on your hunger level which corresponds to a fair price. Le Cochon Bleu offers consistent, well put-together; flavorful dishes at a good value.
The Luberon valley is part of the Rhône Valley to the east. There have extraordinary wines over there that should not be missed. This area often gets overlooked for the grands crus of Châteauneuf-du-Pape.
Bistrot La Cour de Ferme – This is Guy Sammut’s lower scale restaurant of La Fenière. Cost ranges €40(lunch)-€80(dinner) per person. The grounds are stunning, the service is impeccable and the food is delicious.
Wineries not to miss in Luberon’s Côtes du Rhone
Châteauneuf-du-Pape and surrounding towns (Southern Rhône)
La Maisouneta is a casual place to go when you need a break from the wine tasting rooms in downtown Châteauneuf du Pape. The ingredients are fresh and dishes are tasty.
CVG is located in Sainte Cécile les Vigne. This restaurant is worth the thirty minute journey from Châteauneuf du Pape. It is run by a talented husband and wife team. The husband is the chef and the wife serves the dining room. This meal falls into one of my top three meals eaten in Europe this year. The dishes burst with flavor and are visually stimulating.
Wineries in CDP:
In Châteauneuf du Pape our strategy was to stick mostly to tasting rooms as they showcase a vast selection of wineries. Domaine du Vieux Télégraphe, Domaine Bosquet des Papes, Château de Beaucastel are well known and excellent. Smaller less well known ones to seek out are: Domaine du Pére Cabouche and Domaine Nalys
Northern Rhône- Vienne, Condrieu, St Peray, Cornas, Côte Rotie
Auberge Monnet is located in Le Roche-de-Glun which is thirty minutes south of Vienne. Probably best targeted when you make your way up north from Châteauneuf du Pape. Contrary to the seemingly sleepy town of Le Roche-de-Glun, Auberge Monnet is an animated restaurant with winemakers and locals. The knowledgeable sommelier will pair your meal with the perfect local wine. The full formule (starter, main dish, dessert) runs around €20 a person for lunch.
Wines I recommend in the Northern Rhône:
Christophe Semaska in Condrieu. He is known for his Côte Rôtie’s which are sought out by the most prestigious in the wine industry.
Domaine Clusel Roch in Ampuis. The estate is not spectacular but the wines are delicious. I’d recommend finding a tasting room to try it.
Domaine Barge in Ampuis
Domaine de Tunnel in St. Péray