Dentelles de Montmirail
Here is my favourite way to tour the beautiful Dentelles de Montmirail region, 1 hour north-west of the Luberon, taking in the best villages and scenery. It is a circular route so you can join it where you like.
Start from Malaucene and head off on the D90 to Suzette, which takes you through some fantastic vineyard country, whose slopes and whirls will have you stopping often to take snaps. Suzette itself is also amazingly photogenic, with the jagged mountain crests as a backdrop, and is worth visiting for its very simple, very old church.
From Suzette you can head straight to Beaumes-de-Venise but this would be a shame because you would miss the tiny Roque Alric, clingingly impossibly to its rock spire, amid the full glory of the Dentelles. Continuing this slight detour, take in Le Barroux, which has a notable castle towering over the plain.
Now you head on over to Beaumes-de-Venise, home of the sweet Muscat dessert wine, and perhaps the capital of the Dentelles, with its restaurants and amenities, topped by a ruined castle. Just outside Beaumes de Venise on the D81 you will pass the Romanesque chapel of Notre-Dame-d’Aubune – this calls for another little stop-off, at least for a very pretty picture.
Next on the route is Vacqueyras – you may recognise the name from the wine, and there is nothing of interest here but the wine, the village’s energies are entirely devoted to it. Keep going instead to Gigondas, which is not only famous for the delightful wine but has a face to match. Here there are many places to taste Gigondas, my favourite is the cave.... which has all the local producers’ output.
Sablet and Seguret are near neighbours, one has been rewarded with membership of the ‘Most Beautiful Villages of France’ , the other hasn’t. You would be hard pressed to know which is which from a distance, both are car-stoppingly attractive.
Pass up on Rasteau and Roaix, visible from the road and lesser wines of the area, in favour of Vaison-la-Romaine, a town on the Ouveze river equally fascinating for its Roman and medieval remains.
From Vaison head south to Crestet, a village with the air of the half-finished, dominated by a castle and with a long, wide, majestic view, of valley, hills and mountain.
After Crestet you can continue on to Malaucene and complete the loop of the Dentelles, or take in one more diversion to Entrechaux, just because it make a lovely photo, with its perched cluster of ruined castle and church.
Et voila, around the Dentelles de Montmirail in half a day or a day, depending on how long you linger.
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