Plus Beaux villages de France
The Drôme contains some very attractive villages, full of charm and life. Discover the six Drôme villages which are proud to boast the prestigious label of ‘les Plus Beaux Villages de France’.
The latest member to join the prestigious club: ‘les Plus Beaux Villages de France’, Grignan is one of the pearls of Drôme Provencale! On Tuesday 1 October 2019, this village, known to lovers of literature and the arts in general, took its rightful place and joined the charmed circle. At the heart of Drôme Provençale, the village surrounds the château standing on its rocky promontory. This is the largest Renaissance château in South East France and a good example of French classical architecture. The building has had a chequered history; classed as a historic monument in 1993 and awarded Musée de France status, the château de Grignan offers visitors a precious witness to the way of life in several historical periods. As regards events, each summer a prestigious theatrical performance, ‘les Fêtes nocturnes’, takes place in the central courtyard of the château and throughout the year a wide range cultural events are also offered.
A solid medieval church defends this gorgeous village, adopting a protective stance on its promontory surveying the wide Rhône Valley. Below the church, a delightful formal botanical garden filled with Mediterranean scents and colours adds a cheerful note.The village hiding behind the church is delightful, with vaulted passageways connecting certain of the old streets. Many of the houses are now home to boutiques and art galleries.
Founded in the 12 century by the knights of St John and Jerusalem, the village of Poët-Laval has retained most of its medieval walled circuit and many old houses. The old command centre of the 12 century knights of Malta, the imposing castle which dominates the complex, restored a few years ago, hosts wonderful summer exhibitions. The upper village, restored by Yvon Morin, an enlightened art connoisseur and lover of old stones, contains the Hospitalers hotel-restaurant and the ‘Centre d’Art et d’Animation Raymond du Puy’, which hosts one or more exhibitions a year, often devoted to a well-known artist, and a cycle of concerts. Le Poët-Laval was also closely linked, in religious history, with Protestantism, hence the Musée du protestantisme Dauphinois.
Wander along the ramparts and up the paved streets admiring the lovingly renovated houses with their elegant stone facades, doorways and windows. The scent of aromatic plants drifts over their walled gardens. At the top of the village you come to the medieval church Sainte Foy. Mirmande was resurrected after the war thanks to the dynamism of the Cubist painter André Lhote. Over many years, the artist worked to save the village from ruin, in good part by attracting a number of followers and by organizing significant art exhibitions here. Listed as a Drôme ‘botanical village’ for its rock plants
Set in stunning scenery between the Baronnies mountains and Provence’s Mont Ventoux, this village stands in the southeast corner of the Drôme, a part of France that inspired the great pacifist, rural writer, Jean Giono. The striking silhouette of a ruined Renaissance castle runs along the crest of Montbrun’s hill, while the tall houses descend the slope in terraces. Fountains embellish the streets, and act as a reminder that Montbrun-les-Bains is now known above all for its thermal establishment. Its sulphurous waters are recognized to help those suffering from rheumatism and respiratory problems.
Châtillon-en-Diois, the latest addition to the prestigious ‘Plus Beaux Villages de France’ club, is a medieval village of undeniable charm with its little narrow streets and typical houses. The Mairie and the clock tower are listed by the ‘Monuments Historiques’.
Around the village the vineyards bearing the same name stretch out into the distance, dotted with the ‘cabanons’ (small stone-built barns) which give this wine growing landscape its unique identity.