A Gourmet Tour in the northern Rhone Valley one hour from Lyon

With great wines, many Michelin-starred restaurants, local truffles and a famous chocolate factory, the northern part of the Rhone Valley offers plenty of opportunities for a gourmet break just 100km south of Lyon.

 

Let’s begin in Tournon-sur-Rhône, a charming medieval village located on the right side of the Rhone river in the Ardeche department. 
The town is surrounded by steep hillsides where old vines were planted for the first time by 
the Greeks and the Romans.

Those vineyards are part of the Rhone Valley St Joseph appellation. 
You can taste them in the village local winery or go directly to wine makers always eager to defend their terroir.

 

Castle, Gardens and Vineyards in Tournon-sur-Rhône

Walking down the paved streets, pass by the imposing Tournon castle built between the 14th and the 16th centuries where local lords lived. Dauphin Francois, the first son of Francois I, King of France, 
died there in 1536 at the age of 18.

The caste of Tourney-sur-Rhône

Tournon castle built from 14th to 16th centuries. (c) Kevin Bonnaud

A museum within the fortress walls features a library, paintings, medals, busts, marble statues and tapestries. 
Continue towards the flamboyant gothic Saint-Julien church. At the end of the village, the hidden Jardin d’Eden (garden of Eden) is a must-see.

A one-hectare beautiful hillside garden with fountains, ponds, a Renaissance tower and former ramparts. The property, once owned by a Franciscan monastery, will soon have its own vineyard. A 1 500m² parcel on the top of the garden. 
Every terrace provides a stunning view of the village, the Rhone river and the pedestrian bridge leading to Tain L’Hermitage.

The bridge on the Rhone River between tain l'Hermitage and Tournon

Pedestrian bridge on the Rhone river between Tournon (Ardèche) and Tain l’Hermitage (Drome). (c) Kevin Bonnaud

 

Wines and Chocolate in Tain L’Hermitage

City of Tain l’Hermitage

Tain l’Hermitage is a familiar location to any wine lover. Some of the most prestigious wines 
of the Northern Rhone Valley comes from Hermitage Hill.

A 140-ha vineyard of fragmented plots overhanging the village with terraces supported by low walls of dry stones.

It’s a typical landscape 
of the region. Looking at the hill, you see large walls bearing the names Chapoutier and Jaboulet. 
The two wine growers and traders own a third of the vineyard.

Hermitage vineyard (c) Kevin Bonnaud

Tain l’Hermitage is also the home of ValRhona, a chocolate factory with an international recognition among professionals.

The luxury chocolate brand has also a school and a museum named 
the City of chocolate where visitors can test their knowledge while tasting chocolate squares.

Try Valrhona blond chocolate. An original recipe created a few years ago when a white chocolate unwittingly heated for too long. The chocolate changed color but tasted (really) great.

City of Chocolate in Tain l’Hermitage

As surprising as it may sound, fine chocolate matches perfectly with local wines. 
You can also attend a wine and chocolate workshop (16 Euros – English groups) 
with an œnologist and a chocolate expert or go to Vineum wine bar restaurant 
in the town centre to taste Jaboulet premium wines with Valrhona Grands Crus chocolates.

 

 

Truffles and Dauphiné Ravioli in Romans-sur-Isère

Local white wines match perfectly with milk chocolate. 
Their “minerality” goes also well with black truffles, another food specialty produced in 
the Drome des collines (Drome Hills), on the east of the Rhone between Tain L’Hermitage 
and Valence.

Drome truffles, the local back diamonds. (c) Lionel Pascale

You can go to La Baume Saint-Antoine, a farm located just 5 minutes from Romans-sur-Isère, 
to visit a truffle-field, attend a cavage demonstration (truffle hunting) and taste the so-called 
black diamond with white wines produced by Ferraton Père & Fils.

The winery located in Tain L’Hermitage is going to open a restaurant in early 2018 
with truffle workshops.

After such a great appetizer, stop by Romans-sur-Isere for lunch or dinner.
The historic capital of luxury shoes (you can go to the international museum of shoes, go shopping 
in the city or in Marques Avenue factory outlets mall) is also known for the Dauphiné Ravioli.

Famous “Ravioles de Romans”

Ravioles (Ravioli of Romans) are small pieces of ravioli stuffed with herbs and cheese. 
You can taste them in restaurants surrounding the beautiful Place Ernest Gailly or buy them 
at the famous Mère Maury grocery store opened since 1885 (groups of at least 20 people can visit the oldest ravioles factory for free). A ravioli museum may also be created in the coming years 
in Romans by Saint-Jean company, the number one producer of ravioles.

 

How to get there?

By car

Take the A7 motorway 
Tournon /Tain l’Hermitage (90km), Valence (103 km), Romans (104km, 20 km from Valence).

By Train (from Lyon Part-Dieu Train Station)

Tain L’Hermitage (55 min)
, Valence (1h10 to Valence Ville station, 35 min to Valence TGV Station, then take A 10-minute local train to the city centre). Romans-sur-Isère (5/10 minutes from Valence TGV, 15/20 minutes from Valence Ville).

 

 

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