* Saturday June 4: Departure from RDU to NY and then to Nice via Air France flight.
* Sunday June 5: Arrival in Nice International Airport after a striking descent on the beautiful Bay of Angels.
This day will be dedicated to acclimating and relaxing after the trans-Atlantic flight. Lunch by the flower market and a relaxing stroll on the "Promenade des Anglais," the Old Port, capture the view seen on the photograph "Le Démon sur la Baie des Anges" (below.)
If time allows, short visit of Monaco, Italian flavored Manhattan on the Riviera, which will give us the excuse to come back through the Grande Corniche.
* Monday June 6: Breakfast then hit the road and find ourselves an hour and a half later at Domaine de Pinchinat
in sunny Provence.
Pinchinat is located in the Arc river valley, dominated by the Montagne Ste Victoire which was the subject of several Cézanne paintings. The location of the domaine is absolutely lovely, they produce aromatic organic wines with great purity of flavor. After visiting the property we will savor a lunch on the patio with winegrower Alain de Welle while enjoying the view.
Drive to the Rhône Valley through the Lubéron, and to the top of the Mont Ventoux which offers a spectacular view on the Alps and the Rhône Valley.
Arrival to the hotel which will be our base.
* Tuesday June 7: Exploration of the Dentelles de Montmirail and the small roads and tracks that penetrate it. We will notably go to the overlook tucked on a peak and from which one can enjoy a breathtaking view on the Dentelles and the Rhône Valley.
Visit of the Domaine La Ligière
, which produces organic Vacqueyras, Gigondas and Beaumes de Venise.
Drive to the Domaine le Garrigon
. A short hour drive that will take us through the Plan de Dieu and most of the southern Rhône Valley wine production range. Le Garrigon produces some of the best everyday red in the southern Rhône Valley, supple and aromatic.
Dinner in Gigondas.
* Wednesday June 8: Drive to Mas de Libian
in St Marcel d'Ardèche, on the west side of the Rhône Valley. This is not only an organic but a Demeter-certified biodynamic domaine, which means that it supports all its needs, and even plow their vineyards by horse. The domaine yields aromatic wines with character, and has a nice view over the Valley, the Mont Ventoux, the dentelles de Montmirail.
Drive through the Gorges de l'Ardèche
to the Grotte Chauvet
. The Gorges are known as Europe's Grand Canyon, and are a magnificent site, where many caves may be found that were inhabited by humans, as early as 300,000 years ago. The most treasured of the caves is the Grotte Chauvet
which we will visit. It is in the Unesco register and contains the earliest known and best preserved figurative cave paintings in the world. It is not possible any longer to visit the actual grotte, but French authorities have built a perfect replica which is the model for conservation of ancient decorated caves.
Thursday June 9: Drive to Domaine La Rocalière
in Tavel, across the Rhône river from Chateauneuf du Pape, and visit another of Wine Authorities domaines. This one produces fantastic organic Tavel Rosé and Lirac Rouge and Blanc.
Drive to Tournon, an hour or so north, sitting just across from Tain l'Hermitage, home of Hermitage and Crozes-Hermitage wines. We are now in the northern Rhône Valley, where wines enjoy more floral aromas, notably due to Viognier and Syrah, which here is at their most famous and distinctive. Lunch in one of Tournon's ever inviting restaurants.
Just north of Tournon we will visit Guy Farge
, who produces some of the most distinctive Saint Josephs we know, and may become available soon at Wine Authorities. His Saint Josephs are smooth and thick, loaded with aromas of violet. These are my favorite wines, period, and it is rare to find Saint Josephs as aromatic and fresh as Guy Farge's.
On the way back we will climb to the top of Crussol, the castle built on the cliff dominating Valence, Jean-Christian's home town. The Castle of Crussol was destroyed by Richelieu, Louis the XIII's Eminence, in the fight to tame all chiefdoms into submission to the king.
Dinner in Valence.
Friday June 10: Leaving the hotel and drive to the Palais du Facteur Cheval
, north of Valence. The Palais was built by a mailman and visionary artist who collected artifacts during his daily walks distributing mail around the area. It is remarkable of creativity and offers a unique insight in the psyche of such a humble man in the late 19th Century/early 20th Century.
Visit Domaine de Rosiers in Ampuls producing Côtes Roties and Condrieu from the northern tip of the Rhône valley.
Drive to Lyon to catch a high speed train to Paris.
Hotel in Paris
Stroll and drinks at La Palette where the photograph "Des Amants dans Mon Café" (at top) was shot.
Walk back to the hotel to enjoy the city at night.
Saturday June 11: Departure by Air France shuttle to Paris Roissy Airport. Delta direct flight to RDU.