Valentines Festival – Roquemaure

Celebrate St Valentine in Roquemaure(30 Gard, Occitanie) at the Festo de Poutoun (Occitan for “The Kissing Festival” also known as Fête des Amoureux)14 February 2019.

Established over 100 years ago, Roquemaure becomes the city of romantic legends. The town is decorated as it was in the 19th century.

There will be more than 800 costumed actors, floats and horse riders. Shop fronts are decorated as in olden times as is the post office and the lovers fountain. There is the traditional market including ancient trades, a music stand and wooden-horse merry-go-rounds.

Lovers will find themselves humming the most beautiful love songs to the sound of street organs and exceptional Limonaire barrel organs in the streets of the old village.

The remains of St Valentin are reportedly buried here. Unless you are a real romantic, better to hunt our the local wines – Lirac – mainly reds in the style of Côtes du Rhône and Chateauneuf-du-pape. (also nearby are the rosé wines of Tavel, considered by many to be the best rosé wine in France).

 

For more info on the Valentines Festival see www.avignon-et-provence.com/
TGVBy train TGV to Avignon with Rail Europe (10 miles away)

nearby vineyard accommodation st Domaine Des Escaunes (30 km/20 miles)

Les Chambres d'hôtes de Luneil (B&B), Roquemaure
Les Chambres d’hôtes de Luneil B&B, Roquemaure

Best rates for hotels, B&Bs and self-catering in and around Roquemaure such as Les Chambres d’hôtes de Luneil (B&B) in Roquemaure – a late 19th-century Provencal country house with garden and pool.

 

Water and wine – French vineyards by boat

Barge on the Canal Lateral de la Loire

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!