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Secret Provence

Drôme Provençale – all the beauty without the crowds
Starting point

Your holiday begins with two nights at Le Domaine du Bois des Dames, located a short distance from the historic hamlet of Chantemerle-lès-Grignan.

Day 1
Taxi transfer, then Grignan to Chantemerle-lès-Grignan: 14km, 4.5hrs; ascent 300m/descent 310m

Your first full day starts with a transfer to the magnificent hill-top town of Grignan. Strolling its characterful streets with their craft shops and pavement cafés, you ascend gently to the ramparts of the 12th-century castle within whose walls the original village lay and where, in the 17th century, Madame de Sévigné (mother of the Comtesse of Grignan and celebrated scribe of a series of letters to her daughter), stayed on visits. You may wish to take a tour of this splendid Renaissance castle before joining a delightful, woodland path that runs through the grounds of an equestrian centre to reach the village and feudal dungeon tower of Chamaret – standing like a finger pointing to the sky – from where views open up across the landscape. Vineyards, lavender fields and oak forests accompany your onward route before you emerge back into the handsome hamlet of Chantemerle-lès-Grignan.

Day 2
Chantemerle-lès-Grignan to Val des Nymphes: 15km, 4.5hrs; ascent 315m/descent 325m

You join a superb route which takes you along a broad ridge at the top of the white sandstone cliffs of Les Crevasses. The result of an earthquake in 1774, the limestone plateau of Rouverge shifted, creating a narrow ravine bordered by sheer cliffs that plunge 70 metres from their panoramic tops to the valley floor. After taking a 'poet's path' along the ridge, you enjoy expansive views across the Rhône Valley before continuing along country lanes, and paths that skirt lavender fields, to reach the Knights Templar chapel and tower at Clansayes, a conspicuous landmark visible across the entire valley. Descending through woodland from Clansayes, your onward path takes you through the heart of an extensive vineyard before continuing into the verdant Val des Nymphes alongside the distinctive village perché  of La Garde-Adhémar to reach your accommodation for the next two nights – either the delightful Le Mas Bella Cortis or the stylish Les Esplanes.

Day 3
Circular route via La Garde-Adhémar: 11km, 3.5hrs; ascent/descent 240m

Today we suggest a circular route which takes you from the door of your chambres d'hôte  and through dense oak forests where wild black truffles grow, to reach the hill-top village of La Garde-Adhémar – one of the plus beaux villages de France – where you might linger over lunch in its pretty square and amble through the cobbled streets with their bijou restaurants. After visiting the jardin remarquable  herb garden with its 200 medicinal plants, descend from the village along a quiet woodland path, passing ancient sacrificial stones and visiting the magical Val des Nymphes with its Romanesque chapel, waterfall and shady glades, before returning to your guesthouse.

Day 4
Val des Nymphes to St-Paul-Trois-Châteaux: 8.5km, 2.5hrs; ascent 80m/descent 165m

This easy walk traverses a pastoral valley alongside fields of sunflowers and corn, and meadows grazed by horses, to arrive at your final destination, St-Paul-Trois-Châteaux, in time to enjoy lunch at one of its bustling restaurants. Spend the afternoon strolling through the town, taking in its 12th-century Notre Dame cathedral, white-stone houses and truffle museum before heading to the genteel Hotel La Villa Augusta, where your final two nights are spent.

Day 5
Circular route via St-Restitut: 12.5km, 4hrs; ascent/descent 410m

A stunning circuit on your final day takes you up into the woods to follow a marked truffle trail where you uncover the mysteries of these 'black diamonds', how and where they grow, and their culinary uses. This delightful route continues to the white-stone village of St-Restitut and its 15th-century chapel, from where a balcony path provides glorious views across the entire valley, before arriving at another chapel and 360-degree views across Drôme Provençale. On your final night, use our recommendations to choose from one of St-Paul's many excellent restaurants.

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