June 28th, 2015
After stocking up on picnic staples of local creamy chèvre, fresh baked baguettes, salami, a bottle of wine, pastries, and fresh seasonal peaches at the Les Halles indoor market in Avignon we hopped into the car and headed north up to the Cotes du Rhone wine region surrounding the Les Dentelles de Montmirail.
Following a circular route, we started in the winemaking devoted villages of Beaumes-de-Venise, Vacqueyras and Gigondas before pulling off to one of the several picnic spots that we spotted along the route to dine on our market finds in the cool shade next to a vineyard listening to the grating cacophony of cicadas. The peaches that we had picked up were out of this world delicious! You know, the kind that leave a sweet sticky mess of juice running down your arms. And Dan had wanted to eat them in the car on our drive! Really now. Growing up in Georgia, land of the American peach, you think he would have known better!
The temperatures outside were pushing into the upper range of 30 degrees Celsius so after spending a few minutes exploring each town center we sprinted toward the car to bask in the icy air conditioning as we zipped to our next destination. I confess that sometimes, I just stuck my head out the window with the camera while Dan drove really slow instead of getting out.
Back on the road, we passed through Sablet and Seguret before stopping in Vaison-la-Romaine, a Romanesque town on the Ouveze River boasting Gallo-Roman remains, which in hindsight we should have taken the time to explore but the air conditioning was beckoning us back after only an hour of wandering through the town. After a gelato break in the city center, we meandered down to the river where we stumbled upon a dozen sunbathers cooling off in a naturally formed pool just a short ways upstream from the 1st century AD Roman bridge that spans the water. I was so envious of the kids jumping off the nearby rocks into the water. Oh how I wish we had brought our swimsuits with us on the drive! We halfheartedly settled on wading knee deep into the water to cool off our feet instead.
After our pathetic dip in the river, we continued on to the villages of Crestet and Malaucene, passing through some fantastic vineyard country before coming up to Suzette and the region’s best views of the toothy Dentelles range, the jagged mountain crests serving as the town’s stunning backdrop.