Wine, Roman Ruins and Gigondas! Chateauneuf du Pape! Touring Provence Thanks To Patricia Wells!

Say hello to the vineyards of Chateauneuf du Pape!

Everyone has an adventure of a lifetime…and some are lucky enough to have many…for us, a trip to cooking school with Patricia Wells gave us multiple “lifetime trips”, including a drive through one of the most beautiful places in the world…Provence!

And Gigondas To You, Too!

This is the view from Gigondas – if you don’t know it, you soon will – there is so much beauty from afar – and so much up close as well – like these beautiful provencal olive trees!

Welcome To Provence…

There is nothing more exhilarating than a driving trip through Provence, and in many ways, a drive back in time – because these villages of Provence live in a world of suspended animation – classic old cobblestone streets where cars aren’t allowed, and time never catches up…

The key is to rent a car and just drive…and stop in small town after small town to pose for pictures that prove you were there, like we did in Seguret…

Our Provencal adventure was courtesy of the iconic Food Writer/Cookbook Author/Provencal resident Patricia Wells!

So this is our Provencal adventure, exploring the gorgeous region of France in the southwestern area of the country…we were here to participate in a week long cooking class with iconic Writer and Cookbook Author Patricia Wells…

Here is a story of the food we made – and yes, we are standing with her at the stove that Julia Child gave her:

To see more on these terrific cooking sessions, go to Patricia’s website:

Welcome to Vaison la Romaine!

The classes take place just outside Vaison la Romaine, a beautiful village that is located less than thirty miles north of Avignon – a charming town “protected” by a fortress that rises above the old town…

With dozens of cobblestone paths to explore…charming and a generation away from the rest of the world…from the old town you can look at the more “modern” section of the town that lies below…

Market Shopping With Patricia Wells!

Alex had the chance to talk to Patricia as we strolled through the Vaison market, looking for fresh produce, meat and seafood to cook that day…

The small town of Vaison la Romaine is home to Patricia and her husband Walter Wells, and as part of their cooking class, they take you to the town’s weekly market, which takes over a dozen blocks of the small town’s center:

As you can see, the local farmers make and sell a wide variety of sausages – there are literally a dozen different local vendors, and there are also many fish stall like this one:

Vaison La Romaine is just one of dozens of beautiful small towns in Provence, and here are the ones that we discovered:


First stop, Gigondas…Gigondas is a French wine Appellation d’Origine Contrôlée (AOC) in the southern Rhône wine region of France. Being a little brother of Châteauneuf-du-Pape, the wine is moderately prestigious and can yield beautiful results when treated with care.
Gigondas AOC wine is produced exclusively in the commune of Gigondas, in Vaucluse.

Nestled in the rocks above rolling fields of vines, Gigondas is surrounded by grapes…and when you head into town, there are plenty of shops and restaurants to try their wines…but it is also a beautiful little town to explore – like their many ancient ruins…

You can spend an hour or more just wandering the small streets, always in the shadow of a ruin or two…

What makes it such a special place is that they make great wine, have fun restaurants and wine tasting rooms, and it is all set amid the ancient walls of the village:


Time now to get back in the car and drive twenty minutes to our next destination:

The small village of Seguret is even smaller than Gigondas – but it is still full of restaurants, such as the one that offered this unique option for Whiskey:

I didn’t order the Whiskey Baby, choosing to enjoy the local wine instead – and we met a local winemaker who spend a lot of time with us…telling us how he grows and harvests his grapes, making a few hundred cases of wine a year, to sell to people like us, who taste with him and then load up with way too much to get back home…

Seguret is built against a hill, so you can take lots of pictures of the beautiful countryside beyond you, which of course we did:

Orange Is In Ruins!

Let’s head now down the road a half hour or so and check out Orange, a commune in the Provence-Alpes-Côte d’Azur region – known for their Roman ruins…and a miniature version of the Rome Coliseum:

It’s a beautiful structure – smaller than Rome’s – open to the public to explore and enjoy…

You can wander the ruins, take lots of pictures, and sit down to imagine what it was like to see a “show” there…

The original Roman Orange was founded in 35 BC by veterans of the Second legion as Arausio (after the local Celtic water god), or Colonia Julia Firma Secundanorum Arausio in full, “the Julian colony of Arausio established by the soldiers of the second legion.” The name was originally unrelated to that of the orange fruit, but was later conflated with it…and there you go…

The town itself is unmemorable – you go to Orange for one reason, to see the ruins and sit in their version of the Rome Coliseum, which we did of course…

As I said, it’s only about a tenth the size of Rome’s…but it has beautifully carved stone…

Avignon – Talk About Your “Bridge To Nowhere!”

Then it was back in the car and into the region’s largest city – Avignon…

Avignon is bordered by the left bank of the Rhône river, which gives you one of the city’s most unique attractions…

Over 90,000 people live in the city, with about 12,000 living in the ancient town center surrounded by its medieval ramparts. Here we are with some of those medieval ramparts behind us…

Often referred to as the “City of Popes” because of the presence of popes from 1309 to 1423 during the Catholic schism, it is currently the largest city and capital of the département of Vaucluse. Avignon is one of the few French cities to have preserved its ramparts, and has, as you would expect, old Roman ruins as well…

Avignon’s Bridge To Nowhere…

Avignon has a beautiful historic center, and the bridge of Avignon – the “bridge to nowhere” – for you see, it just ends halfway across the river…

Yep, the bridge ends right there – and you can walk out onto it and gaze across at the far side of the river…and wonder why they never finished it…don’t worry, the story is right there to read…

The town also offers beautiful courtyards…

Avignon is where the bullet train from Paris arrives in Provence, under three hours from Paris…it’s very convenient and a beautiful trip, and from here you rent a car and head out to explore…including the greatest area of all for wine lovers:

Tasting and Touring Chateauneuf du Pape!

The village and three other surrounding communes produce wine, and Châteauneuf-du-Pape is an Appellation d’Origine Contrôlée (AOC) in the southern Rhône wine region. It’s less than a half hour from Avignon, which makes the region very convenient for exploring…

Before wine critic Robert M. Parker, Jr. began promoting them, the wines of Châteauneuf were considered rustic and of limited appeal in the U.S. However, his influence increased their price more than fourfold in a decade. And you can drive right up to them and get shots of the vineyards…

The town itself is a beautiful town full of tasting rooms…you park your car and walk through the town’s center, stopping off at tasting room after tasting room….

There a dozens of tasting rooms, all very sedate and pretty:

You can spend hours wandering the streets, having a great meal and tasting great wines…

And, like everywhere else in this part of Provence, there are roman ruins…

This entire region was very convenient – easy to read signs, well-maintained country roads, gorgeous scenery, friendly people and delicious food! Thanks to Patricia Wells for giving us the excuse to explore this region!

Check out my previous post as well!

Categories: Books / Media, cookbooks, Food, Food Review, Paris, Recipes, Restaurants, Talent/Celebrities, Travel, Travel Memoir, Uncategorized, wine

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28 replies

  1. Your trip had everything I love in my travels: small cobblestone towns, roman ruins, beautiful scenery, good food and wine. The Provence is on my bucket list, I really need to book a trip to explore it soon. Thank you for sharing your trip.


  2. Fabulous images, John what an awesome trip…Wine, food and cookery lessons it doesn’t get better than that does it 🙂

    Liked by 1 person

  3. A trip of a lifetime – food, scenery, wine and history. Can it get any better!


  4. Great photos looks like a fab trip!

    Rachael |

    Liked by 1 person

  5. I am so envious! My husband and I had booked a holiday to Avignon and Orange a few years ago, which we had to cancel at the last minute as I was to ill with morning sickness to manage the drive. Sadly we have never yet managed to rebook the trip. Your photos look wonderful…Provence is just generally stunning. I really enjoyed reading, thanks for sharing your adventure!

    Liked by 1 person

    • We loved it – Avignon by train from Paris is a gorgeous 3-1/2 hours, and then you can drive to Orange, Gigonda, Chateauneu-du-Pape and other places easily…we love that region and want to go back! Thanks so much for the comment – if you are interested in food and travel stories, click those buttons on the main page – more travel stuff to Spain and Tokyo as well!


      • Oh lucky You! I live somewhere in the middle and it takes me do much longer than thst to get to either place. I’ll try to get round to more reading when I can…there have been four bank holidays this month, the school shut for an extra holiday and there’s a strike planned for this week…not conducive to blogging sadly 😦


      • I understand completely – thanks for commenting!

        Liked by 1 person

  6. Fabulous pictures. I took a cooking class in Provence as well. So much fun. I love all the little villages. The markets were fun as well. Hope to return soon.

    Liked by 1 person

  7. I believe part of French Kiss was filmed here. A beautiful part of the world. What a treat.

    Liked by 1 person

  8. I can’t wait to revisit Rome and S. Italy next summer. I love Tuscany and appreciate your post. This summer I’m taking a crew to Spain.

    Liked by 1 person

  9. Reblogged this on johnrieber and commented:

    A bit of Monday “wanderlust”…



  1. Provence! France’s Medieval Gem! « Spinning Orbit
  2. Holiday Feast! Provencal Lamb! Patricia Wells Recipe! “Gigot D’Agneau” To You! Great Cooking Adventure! | johnrieber
  3. Hilarious Wine Descriptions! Monty Python Wine Reviews! Wine! Wine! Wine! | johnrieber
  4. Holiday Feast 2016! Gigot Of Lamb From Patricia Wells! Ratatouille From Thomas Keller Recipe! – johnrieber
  5. Smorgasbord Posts from Your Archives – Wine, Roman Ruins and Gigondas! Chateauneuf du Pape! Touring Provence Thanks To Patricia Wells! by John Rieber | Smorgasbord – Variety is the spice of life
  6. Easter Feast 2018! Gigot D’Agneau! Galette de Pomme de Terre! Recipes For Your Easter Feast – Ratatouille Too – johnrieber
  7. Wine Is Life! 8 Delicious Reasons To Counter A Report That Downplays The Health Benefits Of Vino! Hall & Oates Sing “IntraVino!” – johnrieber
  8. My Annual Gigot D’Agneau Feast! Roasted Lamb Shank! Iconic Potato Cake! My Christmas 2018 Menu! – johnrieber
  9. The Delicious Life Of Patricia Wells! Wednesday’s Bookmobile Heads To Provence For Her Memoir! – johnrieber
  10. Entering The Acropolis! Up Close At The Parthenon! Our Athens Greece Begins With A Trip Back In Time! – johnrieber
  11. It’s National “Drink Wine” Day 2022! Here’s Why It’s Healthy To Celebrate! – johnrieber

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