5 exceptional places: the château de Grignan, the château de Suze-la-Rousse, The Château des Adhémar, the Palais Idéal du Facteur Cheval or Crest’s keep.
The Château de Grignan
The Château de Grignan was built in the Middle Ages as an acropolis dominating the site and the village. 16th century rebuilding transformed the edifice into one of the greatest Renaissance châteaux of South-East France and further building in the 17th century into « one of the finest antiquities in France ». The presence of Madame de Sevigné and her daughter Madame de Grignan, the privileged place the château occupies in their correspondence and the influence of Comte François de Castellane Adhémar de Monteil, « Viceroy » of Provence from 1669 to 1714, all conspire to make this a key site in the history of the region. Classified a Musée de France, the château hosts theatre evenings in summer with its ‘Fêtes Nocturnes’. The ceremonial hall also rings to the sound of classical and jazz concerts, while in the village below, the ‘ Festival de la Correspondance’
The château de Suze-la-Rousse
Owned by the Princes of Orange, this medieval fortress was partially transformed in the 16th century. In the Renaissance it acquired an arcaded courtyard in the Italian manner whose decoration is similar to that at Grignan and affords a superb contrast with the austere aspect of the exterior. The château has been honoured by the presence of a number of powerful figures belonging to the Baume-Suze family, who remained owners until 1958. The castle has, since 2013, a new museum layout dedicated to the art and wine growing.The château is today the seat of the Université du Vin.
The Château des Adhémar
The Château des Adhémar at Montélimar is one of the most important examples of medieval architecture in the mid-Rhone valley. It was built by the Adhémar of Monteil family on the top of a hill above the town which bears its name (Montélimar means the Little Hill of the Adhémars). Within the curtain wall there remains an 11th century chapel and a 12th century residence with outstanding decorative features.
The Palais Idéal du Facteur Cheval
Le Palais Idéal du Facteur Cheval at Hauterives: it took local postman Ferdinand Cheval some 10,000 days and 93,000 hours, spread over 33 years, to construct his fairytale palace. He did it alone, with prodigious stubbornness, building up the architecture stone by stone. The result was a unique, surreal work of Naïve Architecture . From Pablo Picasso to André Breton, many have recognized this singular act of creation. In summer, the Palais organizes musical gatherings with its Jazz au Palais and Musicales du Palais.
Should you be searching for the tallest keep in France, you’ll find it at Crest, surveying the Drôme Valley. The great tower reaches 52m in height and goes back 900 years. It served successively as a fortress, a castle and then a prison. Taking on all the steps to the top is a sporting feat, but well worth the effort for the fantastic panoramic views, taking in the Vercors and Diois Alpine foothills on one side, and the Drôme Valley and the Ardèche mountains on the other. At certain times, you can even sign up to abseil back down!