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A taste of the Rhône

Self-guided cycling holidays in FranceWe asked hikers and diners par excellence, Jack and Andy from Buzz Trips, to report back on the Southern Rhône region they have been researching for our new holidays in the region:

We began our whistle-stop exploration with the towns of Tarascon and Beaucaire, set right at the heart of this fascinating area, and surrounded by manicured orchards and vineyards; impossibly pretty French villages and the wild beauty of the Camargue, framed by Les Alpilles and laced by the waters of the Rhône and its network of canals.

Both towns boast a castle and a legendary monster, symbols of an historic divide which remains to this day. Medina-esque, narrow cobbled streets conceal crumbling mansions fronting pretty courtyard gardens, hidden squares with pavement cafés and riverside restaurants whose tables and chairs spill out towards the moored yachts along the quayside.

Arles is larger and busier, but the ‘big six' ancient monuments are well worth seeing – especially if you pick up a reduced price 'passport' from the Tourist Office. The Roman Amphitheatre and the Cryptoporticos are particularly stunning; plus there are lots of places to browse, eat and generally spend time watching the world go by…

Self-guided cycling holidays in FranceOn to sophisticated St Rémy de Provence, birth place of Nostradamus, where we found the town roped off for a bull run! More ludicrously quaint, cobbled streets lined with boutiques and restaurants, while the Roman ruins of Glanum and the hospital of Saint Paul de Mausole where Van Gogh spent his year are a short distance from town. This is the chic version of neighbouring Fontvieille, an absolutely charming place with lovely restaurants, patisseries aromatic with fresh breads and pastries, a pretty church and Daudet’s delightful moulin (right).

Jack and Andy loved the area – not least of all because of the fine dining possibilities based on fresh produce from the colourful markets and local wines. Here’s what our friends at Laithwaite’s Wine recommend:


WINES OF PROVENCE

Self-guided cycling holidays in FranceQuite simply: think pink. Not only is 80% of production in the Cotes de Provence appellation devoted to rose, Provencal rose is the pin-up of pink wines. Scented, refreshing and dry – it is the benchmark to which all other pinks aspire. So serious are the locals about their flagship style, they have 21 official colours!  From nude to pale petal, strawberry, coral, cantaloupe, to mango or mandarin, according to the winemaker’s techniques, and how long the skin stays in contact with the juice. (Quick tip: the more delicate the colour, the more expensive the wine). But don’t be fooled into thinking this quintessentially Mediterranean region is a one-trick, pink pony. Look to the Bandol area for warmly spicy, oaked reds. And  keep an eye out too for a grape called Rolle. Known elsewhere as Vermentino, it’s a white queen in the making!

LAITHWAITE'S RECOMMENDATIONS

Self-guided cycling holidays in FranceL'ART DE PROVENCE ROSÉ 2012 – RRP £8.49 (40642)

Here’s a quintessentially pretty pink from a small domaine in the Côte d'Azur, and the best value you’ll find this side of Saint Tropez! The vineyards are surrounded by wooded hillsides and face south into the sun. So you enjoy nicely concentrated fruit flavours (think wild strawberry and red berries). And like so many Provence roses, it’s great with food – fish and white meats in particular – but we love this with a spicy stir-fry too.
 

Self-guided cycling holidays in FranceDOMAINE DE PONTFRACT CÔTES PROVENCE 2012 – RRP £10.49 (40638)

With its pale rose colour and complex nose of berries and peaches, Domaine de Pontfract is a nicely posh pink – smart but accessible! The estate is not far from Brignoles (the historic Summer seat of the Counts of Provence) and lies on rocky, limestone soil. That means the vines have to dig down deep for moisture, leading to small but intensely flavoured grapes. Classic, elegant blend of Grenache, Cinsault and Carignan. Your perfect apéritif!

SPECIAL OFFER

You can buy any of the featured wines at www.laithwaites.co.uk and, as an Inntravel customer, you can benefit from a 20% discount on your first order over £50 if you order before 16 February 2014 by clicking here > and quoting ‘INNTRAVEL’.*

WIN A WINE HOLIDAY OR A CASE OF WINE

Enter our competition to win a short holiday for two people in the beautiful Langhe wine growing region of Piedmont in Italy. Two runners up will receive a case of wine specially selected by Laithwaite's.

* offer only available to new Laithwaite's Wine customers

Posted: 12/11/2013 16:37:08 by | with 0 comments
Filed under: competitions, France, gastronomy, lifestyle, media


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