The Good Life France Magazine

The Good Life France Magazine brings you the best of France - inspirational and exclusive features, fabulous photos, mouth-watering recipes, tips, guides, ideas and much more...

Published by the award winning team at The Good Life France

1 year ago

Issue No. 15

Discover the Drome, Nyons - the last Provencal frontier, Charente-Maritime, Burgundy, Paris gastronomy, Nice, secret Provence, recipes, a whole lot more. It's the next best thing to being in France...

If you love the south of

If you love the south of France and the romantic call of the lavender fields, a visit to the Drôme will reveal an unspoiled region that will truly delight says Lucy Pitts... Drôme is one of the two most southerly departments of the Rhône Alpes region, with the Ardèche to the west and to the south and east, the Vaucluse and the Hautes Alpes departments. Drôme is a department of contrasts and if you’ve spent time travelling the steep and craggy roads of the Ardèche gorges, then the flat plains of Provencal Drôme in the south makes for a dramatic change. High, winding and mountainous roads and heady views suddenly transform into long, flat, straight roads and you cannot escape the smell of the Mediterranean and the feel of Provence. from Orange and headed east. There’s an instant sense of calm as you leave the traffic and bustle of the Rhône behind you. Mont Ventoux and the Alpes are faintly visible in the distance and in summer the sight of mile after mile of perfectly neat rows of lavender is completely glorious. Avoiding the motorway which runs north to south, I peeled off the main road about an hour south of Valence (the capital of the department) and a little over half an hour

A deserted village From the flat fields rise sporadic pinnacles; ancient villages clinging on like giant mole hills dot the landscape. Valaurie is a quiet medieval village keeping guard across the vineyards and lavender fields along with its neighbour Roussas. Both cling to a hill side under the watch of their respective chateaux. Both are unbelievably quiet and hopelessly pretty with a distinct medieval legacy. In Roussas I decided to climb to the top to explore the chateau which is not far from an enormous church (enormous for the size of the village). Roussas boasts a population of about 350 all of whom were notably absent on the day of my visit. I wound my way around narrow cobbled streets, up steps, around fortifications and walls, and up more steps, catching glimpses of the vineyards and lavender fields below. There’s a flower tour you can do around the village to discover different roses and Mediterranean flowers, the village specialises in honey plus a special goats cheese called Foujou. I picked a handful of small ripe figs, that were bursting out of their skins with flavour and ate them on a wall looking back out over Drôme below. I didn’t see a single person. I did reach the 12th century chateau which sadly was all locked up, so I carried on my meander around the narrow streets of the village, discovering pretty little houses and courtyards, stocking up on figs and enjoying the warm September sunshine. By the time I got back to my car, I’d been in Roussas for some time and still not seen a soul. This is a different side to the Provence most of us know, as yet unspoilt by an endless stream of tourists and I was almost relieved to see a car in the distance.

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