March 13, 2009

Europe In 30 Days - Avignon and Chateauneuf-du-Pape - Part 2

We leave Avignon and head towards our next destination of the day. As we arrive closer to Chateauneuf-du-Pape we see that this medieval fortified village is surrounded by vineyards, all neatly tended. Little did I know that this is also a very famous wine region that produces some of the best wines in the world. Lucky me!

We find a place to park and head out to see the ruins of this village, whose name means "the Pope's new castle", and was a summer hideaway of the 14th century Avignon popes. This leads us through narrow cobbled streets, curving around the hillside and climbing up and down between the houses. The buildings are old, but everything is thoroughly restored, and it becomes apparent that this is a tourist town.

We make it to the top and there we see the magnificent ruins of the castle. Not much is left of the papal fortress , that was blown up by the Germans in 1944. From here we also have some great views of the Rhone Valley with vineyards as far as the eye can see.

After exploring the ruins and of course taking pictures from every angle possible, we decide it's time to head back to the car before it gets too dark. On our way we pass by the barrel again with the bottles of wine on top. We decide to take a peek inside this "cave" and discover that it is a wine tasting room. Right On!! During our tasting the "sommeliere" was very informative not only about the wines we tasted but also the wineries throughout the Chateauneuf-du-Pape region. We were able to sample some of the full-bodied reds that are one of the most renowned through France as well as the lesser known whites which were also exquisite.

We both picked our favorites and purchased a couple of bottles. You will know when you are buying an authentic bottle of Chateauneuf-du-Pape by the crossed keys of the chateau embossed on each bottle.

Well, sad but true, this magnificent day has come to an end. But we are excited about our departure tomorrow for the Brittany and Normandy regions of France!

If you would like to see more pictures just go to Wheres Debbie and click on the album "Chateauneuf-du-Pape.

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