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ViaRhôna, roaming along the Rhône river

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Wine tourism & vineyard outings

This section focuses on the tremendous vineyards that slope down to the Rhône, going north to south along the great valley. From the vineyards clinging to mountain slopes in Savoie to the steep terraces on which vines thrive down to Châteauneuf-du-Pape, moving on to the great expanses of vines in the Languedoc-Roussillon region, the viticultural landscapes and know-how along the Rhône Valley are exceptional. Tasting the wines along with special local produce all makes for delectable discovery outings.

‘Vignobles & Découvertes’ – a national accreditation scheme putting wine tourism to the fore
This accreditation, or label, can help you in preparing for a long weekend or a short break amidst the vineyards, thanks to the carefully selected services and offerings covered by it.
All the local partners that carry the Vignobles & Découvertes accreditation have signed up to respect a certain number of indispensable practices and beliefs:

  • a high-quality welcome, be it in French or in a foreign language
  • a special understanding of the world of wine
  • enthusiasm about communicating about local produce
  • authenticity
  • openness to the local natural, cultural and human heritage.

The accreditation will help you find suitable accommodation in the midst of vines, or a restaurant that takes care matching food with local wines and puts local produce to the fore, or then again, wine estates where you can be sure of a warm welcome.
The label also covers a selection of remarkable heritage sites, activities and events to offer you pleasurable variety and help you discover the best of local treasures and know-how.

54 destinations across France have so far gained the label, 8 of which are situated along ViaRhôna. They’ve been accredited by the ministries in charge of tourism and of agriculture for their dedication to a quality vineyard welcome 

The 8 Vignobles & Découvertes accredited destinations along ViaRhôna are:

AOCs:

The designation Appellation d’Origine Contrôlée is an official French quality accreditation. It indicates a product that derives its characteristics, authenticity and quality from its geographical location and origins and from specific methods of production. The designation not only guarantees the origins of a product but also signals a particularly strong link between the product and its terroir.


AOC VINS DU BUGEY

These secretive vineyards are worth discovering, tucked under the great slopes of the Colombier Range, spreading to the Rhône. Try stopping at some of the local winemakers’. The Bugistes are welcoming, enjoying getting you to discover their wines. Serving you a refreshing glass of Bugey wine, they’ll happily tell you all about their profession, which they clearly love.

 

AOC VINS DE SAVOIE

Under this AOC, there are 20 individual denominations singled out for the specific quality of their production, including Ripaille, Frangy, Seyssel, Chautagne and Jongieux, all within easy reach of the ViaRhôna cycle route. Those involved in wine-making in these parts put on related events and entertainments across the year. Plus there are natural and heritage sites to add to the list of connected attractions in these parts, including the Motz vine trail, the St-Romain-sur-Yenne circuit and the Jongieux vine circuit.


AOC COTEAUX DU LYONNAIS

South of Lyon, from ViaRhôna you can spot the wine-making terroirs of Charly, Millery, Saint-Andéol, Grigny and Chassagny. Going from one traditional vine-growing parish to the next, you’ll encounter surprises left from different historic periods, including some unexpected treasures.

 

CÔTES DU RHÔNE (left, or east, bank wines)

Sturdy, powerful red wines as well as exceptionally elegant whites can be produced in these parts. The reason? The multitude of different terroirs, created thanks to the variety of slopes and plateaus exposed to the regular mistral wind, plus geological zones going from rounded pebbles to sandy soils and even ones containing rare oxydes. In addition, 13 different grape varieties grow in these parts. Each year, the vineyards around here actually produce the lowest yields of any in France, adding to the wines’ intensity. The AOCs of L’Hermitage and Crozes-Hermitage count among the most famous names. Four other especially renowned, specific areas of production classed as prestigious wine crus are: Gigondas, Vacqueyras, Beaumes-de-Venise (the last classed as a cru area both for its reds and for its sweet muscat whites).
 

CÔTES DU RHÔNE (right, or west, bank wines)

The vineyards going from Condrieu in the north to those in southern Ardèche include many rare, very highly regarded little wine-producing AOCs like Côte-Rôtie, Cornas, Saint-Joseph and Saint-Peray, among others. The different terroirs, soils, microclimates, grape varieties and flavours all contribute to the great diversity in this stretch of vineyards along the west bank of the Rhône Valley.
 

CÔTES DU RHÔNE VILLAGES

Côtes du Rhône Villages wine-producing areas are spread across 95 communes (municipalities or parishes) in the départements (French counties) of the Vaucluse, Gard, Ardèche and Drôme. However, only in the case of 18 appellation Côtes du Rhône Villages wine areas are producers allowed the extra distinction of mentioning their more precise geographical location, 10 of these being in the Vaucluse, namely Cairanne, Roaix, Sablet, Séguret, Valréas, Visan, Plan de Dieu, Massif d’Uchaux, Puyméras and, latest to date, Gadagne.
 

AOC CHATEAUNEUF -DU-PAPE

Created in 1936, this was one of France’s earliest AOCs. Its celebrated wines are made by combining 13 grape varieties. The specifics of the soils in these parts dictate the type of wine produced. The limestone areas give rich, aromatic whites that are lovely and fresh. Down south, the clays with rounded pebbles produce generous, well-rounded, well-structured red wines, the classics of the appellation. In the north, the sandy soils give lighter reds that are refined, with hints of spices.
 

PAYS D’ARLES VINEYARDS

In the Arles area, 25 winemakers have grouped together in a union, or syndicat, dedicating themselves to cultivating traditional grape varieties (grenache, syrah, cinsault and carignan) that they’ve combined with so-called noble grape varieties (chardonnay, sauvignon, merlot, cabernet, caladoc, marselan…). Some of the wine estates involved practise organic agriculture, while others employ sustainable agricultural methods (for example in the treatment of the vines) according to the specifications laid down by ‘Nutrition méditerranéenne en Provence’.
Le Syndicat des Vignerons du Pays d’Arles- Tel and fax : 04.90.96.84.74- vignerons.arles@orange.fr

 

GARD WINES

The typical Mediterranean climate enables the vineyards of the Gard to thrive. There are many well-known names around here, including some Côtes du Rhône crus, Côtes du Rhône Villages, Costières de Nîmes, Clairette de Bellegarde and Vins des Sables (produced from vines growing on sandy soils). The Côte du Rhône Gardoise and Costières de Nîmes wine-producing areas have been accredited since 2014 with the national label Vignobles & Découvertes, recognizing the quality of their wine tourism offer. Over 100 ecotouristic, or green, ambassadors strive to ensure that they offer an authentic experience in these particular wine areas; they include wine estates and wine cellars, accommodation providers, restaurateurs, wine-related events and more.

 

HERAULT WINES

Languedoc-Roussillon is the French region that boasts the largest surface under vine. The terroirs across the region are rich and varied, particularly in the département (French county) of Hérault. The Mediterranean climate imparts power, colour, elegance and, in some cases, sweetness. There’s a wide range of AOC wines to try, including Picpoul de Pinet, the Languedocs, the Muscats of Lunel, Frontignan, Mireval and Vins des Sables. All told, there’s a lot to please the palate.

Wine trails, outings and breaks:

A bicycle circuit to discover the Bugey Region and its wines, plus the Marais du Lavours marshes and the Maison du Marais marshes visitor centre
A cycling trip to discover the Bugey Region, the Lac du Lit au Roi and the Marais de Lavours marshes. Stop at a wine cellar to sample some Bugey wines, then rendez-vous at the Maison du Marais marshes visitor centre

 

A cycling outing on electric bikes through the Tain-l’Hermitage vineyards

Up to 10 electric bikes, equipped with GPS devices, available for individuals or groups. Enjoy a guided cycling outing on electric bikes. Discover not just a portion of the ViaRhôna cycle route, but also the reputed wine-making areas of Saint-Joseph and Crozes-Hermitage.

Des Terrasses du Rhône au Sommelier

www.ausommelier.com

 

Cycling & vineyards 3 days / 2 nights in the département of Hérault

This cycling break through some of the county of Hérault’s vineyards consists of stages of between 35km and 43km in length. Along the way, meet men and women who do so much to enhance the reputation of their terroirs and  enjoy the flavours of local Languedoc specialities too.

 

Balades et séjours viticoles

Circuit à vélo à la découverte du Bugey et de ses vins, le Marais du Lavours et la Maison du Marais
Une randonnée à vélo pour découvrir le Bugey, le Lac du Lit au Roi et le Marais de Lavours. Arrêt dans une cave pour déguster les vins du Bugey puis rendez-vous à la Maison du Marais

Balades viticoles en vélo électrique à Tain l’Hermitage
10 vélos électriques à disposition des groupes ou individuels équipés de GPS. Balades viticoles en vélo électrique accompagnées: découverte de Saint-Joseph, découverte de ViaRhôna et découverte de Crozes-Hermitage.

Des Terrasses du Rhône au Sommelier

www.ausommelier.com

Cyclotourisme & vignobles 3 jours / 2 nuits dans l’Hérault

Cette randonnée cyclotourisme avec des étapes de 35 à 43 km, vous propose d'aller à la rencontre d'hommes et de femmes qui créent l'âme de nos terroirs et de découvrir les saveurs locales languedocienne.