The Costières de Nîmes vineyards spread to the east of the town of Nîmes (30 Gard, Occitanie) and for many years there was an argument about whether this wine area is part of the Languedoc or Rhône? Nowadays, despite being geographically and administratively in the Languedoc region, they are classified as Rhône wines , as the area is in the Rhône delta. Elsewhere they would use the terms Côtes rather than Costières, i.e. the valley sides.
The annual wine fair (Fête de la St Vincent) is held in Jonquières-Saint-Vincent (30 Gard, LOccitanie) 26 January 2020
A hyphen between the Rhône and the Camargue, the Costières de Nîmes exhibit a colourful Mediterranean temperament. They may be calm, turbulent, fruity, spicy, wild, smooth, floral or rich… But they will never fail to surprise you…. accorded AOC status in 1986, the southernmost of the Rhone Valley wine-growing areas perfectly exhibits all the characteristics of its Roman history and culture: a relaxed way of life, sophistication, warmth. The vineyards lie to the south east of the city from which they take their name, producing predominantly red wines, as well as some rosés and whites. All derive their character from an exceptional soil (a terrace of gravely pebbles deposited by the rivers Rhône and Durance), the vigour of the Rhone grape varieties, a favourable climate, and the mistral. The appellation’s wines also benefit from implementation of the Costières de Nîmes Landscape and Environmental Charter, an innovative concept to protect and promote wine-growing areas*. Among the measures already undertaken are a “Sustainable Viticulture” charter of good practice appended to the AOC’s terms of reference, an assessment of the vineyards’ biodiversity, the creation of themed short-stay packages, and the waymarking of paths offering outstanding views of the countryside. And, each spring, a special event (Les Vignes Toquées) is held involving a gastronomic tour of the vineyards.
Hotels. B&B and other accommodation in and near Nîmes including self-catering at the Appart’Hotel Odalys Le Cheval Blanc in the historic heart of Nîmes, opposite the Roman Arena and a 5-minute walk from Nîmes Train Station
Marseille (13 Bouches-du-Rhone, Provence) holds its annual Foire Aux Santons 16 November 2019 – 5 January 2020 on the Quai du Port in the heart of the city. The Santon is a small carved wooden nativity figure, a very tradtional part of Christmas in France.
For more info see www.foire-aux-santons-de-marseille.fr
In addition to being the oldest city in France, Marseille can also lay claim to being the largest commercial port in the country. Its ferry terminal is gateway to the islands of Sardinia and Corsica, together with North Africa, a region which has greatly influenced the culture and feel of the city.
Like any bustling metropolis, Marseille (13 Bouches-du-Rhone, ProvencePACA), with its Mediterranean coastline along France`s south east Riviera, boasts an array of transport amenities to satisfy the needs of its burgeoning tourist trade, as well as its resident population of well over three quarters of a million.
Marseille centre is located approximately 25 kilometres south of the main Marseille Provence Airport and can be easily reached by road in approximately 20 to 30 minutes. A shuttle bus service runs to the main railway station, where connections can be made to destinations such as Nice, Bordeaux and Montpellier, whilst taxis are also readily available. Once in Marseille, the city centre itself is networked by a Metro system, complimented by a regular bus service and more recently, the addition of a tramway.
Marseille was designated the European Capital of Culture for 2013 and with its wealth of theatres, art centres and a famous Opera House, it`s not difficult to understand how it earned the entitlement. Yet if you`re prepared to venture further than just where your own two feet can carry you, you`ll find plenty more treasures, not least of which is Notre Dame de la Garde, commanding spectacular views over the entire city.
Like any major terminus, hire cars are ready and waiting the moment you step through arrivals at Marseille Provence Airport and with an extensive motorway network easily accessible, the provision of a car during your time in Marseille opens up some serious exploration potential way beyond the central hub.
In December you can visit the Christmas Market Foire aux Santons ( 16 November 2019 – 5 January 2020 ) on the Vieux Port – see www.sortiramarseille.fr
In November there is a big Jazz Festival Jazz sur la ville 5 November – 7 December 2019 with 250 artists performing in 68 events at 35 venues in Marseille and surrounding towns including Arles. Salon de Provence and Avignon. – see http://jazzsurlaville.fr/
For a film festival taster, Cannes is less than two hours drive away, while St Tropez is just as accessible, via an impressive coastal drive. Further east lies sophisticated Nice and if you fancy a flutter, you can always park up in Monte Carlo. And even if you didn`t pack the tight fitting suit and shiny crash helmet, few will be able to resist the temptation to do just one lap through the streets of the Monaco Grand Prix circuit – within the speed limit that is.
Of course it`s not necessary to spend your time clocking up the miles to enjoy the freedom a car can bring. Marseille is part of the Provence wine region and a short hop inland will soon find you in vineyard territory, passing through traditional towns and villages. Or maybe just take a short trip along the Mediterranean coastline to find a secluded beach and magnificent views.
Hiring a car means you won`t be forced to adhere to any timetables or be at the mercy of last minute cancellations or worse still, wildcat strikes. Conversely, there is a need to weigh up the cost of the fuel and remember that on many major routes you will encounter tolls. You`ll also need to be sure you can park near your accommodation and keep in mind that French drink drive limits are some of the strictest in Europe.
You don`t have to commit to picking up a vehicle at the airport. There are numerous other collection and drop off points across the region. So whether it`s for the whole trip or just a few hours, try car hire Marseille to bring you the freedom do what you want, when you want.
And of course, with a car you’d be able to visit the vineyards of some great wine appellations – e.g. Les Baux de Provence, Coteaux d’Aix-en-Provence, Bandol – and a little further you could fit in a trip to Chateauneuf-du-Pape (north of Avignon) or the Costières de Nimes (to the south west of Avignon) – and the wonders of the southern Côtes du Rhone are within easy reach!
We would seriously recommend a visit to Mas Sainte Berthe, Les Baux de Provence AC near Les Baux de Provence – great wines (and olive oil, tapenade etc), stunning position and a signposted walk around the vines to help you understand what you are seeing.
By Train/TGV/Eurostar to Marseille with Rail Europe
On the border between Provence and Languedoc and known as the birth place of denim (“de Nimes”), Nimes is a popular tourist destination due to its rich history dating back to the Roman Empire.
Amongst the important remains that can still be seen today are the Roman amphitheatre, built at the end of the 1st century AD and considered to be the best-preserved Roman arena in France.
The Maison Carrée, is one of the best preserved Roman temples anywhere. In recent years, the city has enjoyed a new-found energy and direction, enlisting the services of modern architects such as Norman Foster who designed the Carré d’art (1986), a museum of modern art.
Nearby are the vineyards of the Costieres de Nimes AC –
The wines of Costières de Nîmes, in great southern tradition are vinified according to the principle of skilful blending of varieties. The proportions are defined by each winemaker in order to bring out the best expression of a terroir, to demonstrate the style of wine from that domaine or
cellar but also to best express the profile of that vintage. The reds and rosés are made using Syrah, Grenache, Mourvedre, Carignan and Cinsault.
Recommended vineyard visit – Chateau de la Tuilerie
The Telegraph (19 Aug 08) includes a boat trip up the Rhone Valley as one of its top 10 river cruises:
Navigating France’s mightiest river is a favourite for wine aficionados and foodies. A cruise through Burgundy and Provence gives you the chance to visit vineyards (think Côtes du Rhône and Châteauneuf-du-Pape), explore Lyon – the gourmet capital of France – and enjoy historic towns such as the fortified city of Avignon and the Roman ruins in Arles. The countryside is equally superb: its fields of lavender and sunflowers were an inspiration for artists such as Vincent Van Gogh, and as the river drains into the Mediterranean you’ll see the famous white horses of the Camargue.
The route includes many worthwhile stops for visits to suit all tastes, but it is also remarkably rich in potential wine visits as you’ll pass through appellations such as Costieres de Nimes, Cotes du Rhone (north and south), Lirac, Tavel, Chateauneuf-du-Pape, St Joseph and Hermitage – and if you branch onto the River Saone north of Lyon you can explore Beuajolais and southern Burgundy!
It should come as little surprise that rivers and canals tend to offer good access to good vineyards – vines often grow best on the steep valley sides with their good drainage and aspect to the sun.
A more modest trip than the Rhone, could be a canal trip from Auxerre (89 Yonne, Burgundy) close to Chablis and down the Canal de Bourgogne to Dijon and the Burgundy vineyards; or a trip down the Canal Lateral de la Loire for Sancerre AC, Pouilly-Fumé and Coteaux Giennois. By using the Canal du Nivernais and the Canal de Briare you could even manage a circular route via Auxerre.
Of course, Rick Stein’s French Odyssey was based on a canal trip along the Canal du Midi and the Canal Lateral de la Garonne and included the vineyards of Bordeaux, Cotes du Marmandais, Buzet, Fronton, Minervois, Corbieres and the Coteaux du Languedoc.
For another set of options try Hilary Wright’s book Water into Wine: A Wine Lover’s Journey Through The Waterways of France which also includes itineraries in the lower Loire. Cognac, Alsace, Lorraiine and the Lot.
For more info on the canals of France see the website for VNF (Voies Navigable de la France) now much improved and in English!