Gigondas is a tiny village in the Vaucluse department, Provence, with a big reputation. It’s wine making country, and not just any old wine making country. Gigondas wine may not be as famous as it’s near neighbour Chateauneuf-du-Pape, but its red wines are world renowned. It was the first village to be awarded the “Cru des Côtes du Rhône” appellation in 1971.
What to see and do in Gigondas
Gigondas lies at the foot of the Dentelles de Montmirail, a small chain of mountains in Haut Vaucluse. If you have a bit of an imagination they look a little like dog teeth. The village is surrounded by vineyards dotted with pretty wine villages like Seguret and Sablet and by woods and scrub land known as garrigue. It’s a distinctive feature of the south of France. Earth that is scented with herbs of Provence, lavender, rosemary and thyme.
The name Gigondas comes from Roman roots, “Jocunditas” – which gave us the word jocund, meaning cheerful or joyful. An apt name for this pretty village where wonderful wine and fabulous food are esteemed.
Park your car at the base of the village and wander. The winding cobbled streets are lined with cafés and wine cellars, boutiques and art galleries. There are beautiful ancient stone houses, vines growing up the walls, their shutters painted shades of pink and blue, green and red. 21 monumental contemporary sculptures reflect the village’s arty credentials. The 11th century Church of Ste Catherine is a blast from the past and at the top of the hill, you’ll find the ruins of a medieval castle. Stop off at the former hospice built in 1678, now a great wine tasting venue. Here you can buy wine and enjoy art.
It’s a tranquil little town which, despite its diminutive size has many excellent restaurants.
Where to eat out in Gigondas
“If you have ever wondered what it might be like to step into a Renoir painting, plan your lunch break at Les Florets” says Martine Bertin-Peterson of Goût et Voyage, fabulous food and culture tours of France. “At this family-owned hotel and restaurant, tucking into an elegant meal on the sun-dappled patio with breath-taking views of the rocky limestone peaks of the Dentelles de Montmirail brings one of those moments you won’t ever forget.
Michelin-starred L’Oustalet in the heart of Gigondas is favored by foodies and oenophiles. They’ve opened a bistro on the site of its original restaurant. Its higher-end gastronomic venture has moved to a new location in town. The bistro’s outdoor dining area features a tree literally growing in the center of one of the tables. Regardless of whether you are eating indoors or out, you can expect a refined cuisine and excellent service.
The area is also rich in picturesque spots for an impromptu picnic if that’s more to your liking. The large weekly market in Vaison is held on Tuesday morning and provides everything you might need for a tasty spread among the vines. Don’t forget to stop in at Lou Canestou. It’s a marvelous cheese shop whose owner, Josiane Deal, has been recognized among the prestigious Meilleurs Ouvriers de France (best tradespeople in France).”
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Find out more about Gigondas at: Provence guide