I awoke early and spritely, ready for a day of lasts in Europe. Last use of hand shower without a shower screen. Thank Bacchus for that! Last Petit dejeunier. For the love of Bacchus, why can’t we do this in Australia? Importantly, last chance to see some vineyards.
So after average French coffee balanced by beautiful French croissant and dragging my now heavier bag what felt like 5kms in the glorious but warm sunshine I was ready to relinquish my hard earned parking spot.
Seriously conflicted between visiting the Grenache producer from yesterday’s lunch (who was in the wrong direction) and seeing the famous vineyards. Fame won out so I headed out of Avignon and across the Rhone river towards Lirac and Tavel. Twisted bush vines decorated the the tiny roadways and the narrow towns made for an interesting test of French courtesy. A u-turn at the end of Lirac and it was time to head to Chateauneuf for a total wine geek out.
Navigating with some help from James, past the famous vineyards and estates. Then heading up hill to a high point I managed to take in the surrounding views and hangout in the remains of Pope John XXII’s Castle. Literally stand in it. No one was around, no fences, just me in half a castle.
Reluctantly it was time to go. The tight turns of Gigondas called and the disappointing discovery that to see the terraces I was in for a walk. Conscious there was much more to see in the Northern Rhone I made use of a state of the art and immaculately maintained public toilet (only cost 30c) and drove back down and on to the Northern Rhone.
The Northern Rhone was A LOT further away then I could have imagined, which is a silly assumption given how distinctly different the wines are.
Visually, you’d be in no doubt you were about to try different wines. The undulating and sprawling lands on the South is replaced with tall, terraced vineyards in close proximity to the Rhone. It was quite beautiful and will definitely be a priority to explore.
A stop in Tain-l’Herimtage for a coffee and pics of Hermitage from ground level. Then it was time for my final adventure. Taking the van an up the Hill of Hermitage. The roads gradually became more narrow and less made and by the time I was into Crozes-Hermitage my spider senses told me it was time to turn around. Finding a wide(ish) part to pull the van over it was lunch time. Left over Saint Felicien and a glass of wine on top of the hill of Hermitage. That was the last official wine duty on the trip. The rest was about getting me and the Northside Cru home.
A glorious way to end a magnificent adventure. One that was far better and more full of surprises and the unknown than I could have ever imagined. But I had survived and thrived. Time to leave, slightly sad but happy to officially be on the way home to see Kristina and Rory. No more adventures… Until I got lost looking for a toilet and ended up at the very top of Condrieu. I never found one but it was too beautiful not to stop and take some photos. Last wine thing for sure.
Mercifully I decided to end close to Lyon. Collecting the Northside Cru from the old part of town was stressful but done safely. Back to the airport a few loops to find a gasoil pump. And then drop off the van and on the bus to the terminal. Or not, we were stopped and told to walk to the terminal by a serious looking soldier with an serious looking rifle. There are a lot of these soldiers with impressive looking rifles. I said no more adventures, this is not what I ordered. Giving them a wide berth we find our check in and had the usual struggle of more baggage on the way back.
Through the gates it was time to spend all the left over Euro on airport baguettes washed down beer, Crozes Hermitage and Provence Rose.
Enjoying the rewards of a few Euro well spent it was back over the Alps to the sight of one white peak rising out of a thick blanket of white cloud.
Homeward bound with no responsibility but to relax and get enough sleep to function if Rory wanted to run around.
Same time next year? I will if you will!