Châteauneuf-du-Pape is a medieval village on the side of a hill, guarded by the ruins of an ancient chateau towering above. From the chateau hill you have an outstanding view in all directions, mostly of vineyards, of course. Off to the east and south, the Rhône winds across the fields, and the afternoon sun turns it silver.
Nearby: | Avignon 18 km | Beaumes-de-Venise 20 km | Beaumes-de-Venise 25 km | Bollène 35 km | Cannes, France 240 km (2h30) | Carpentras 23 km | Gigondas 24 km | Mornas 24 km | Nîmes 60 km | Orange 10 km | Sorgues 7 km | Vacqueyras 24 km | Vaison-la-Romaine 35 km |
The village streets are narrow, curving around the hillside or climbing up and down between the houses. The buildings are old, but everything is very thoroughly restored, and this is clearly a tourist town, and its purpose is to sell wine.
The street heading up the hill from the main junction, Rue Joseph Ducos, has some interesting small shops and restaurants, and passes in front of the town hall (mairie) with its round tower. One of the shops is this picturesque little grocery store (épicerie) that does a steady business with the local residents.
The chateau ruins at the top of the village are accessed by walking up Rue Joseph Ducos past the front of the mairie to the main church at Rue des Papes. Just to the left of the church steps lead up the the wide, stone step-street leading up to the chateau. If you're not up to handling the steps, you can drive to the chateau: go north out of town on the D68 to the first traffic circle (under 1 km), turn left the then left again on the next road south to the parking area of the chateau.
The village was once circled by two concentric walls. The outer wall enclosed the chateau and the entire village, as far as the main road at the bottom of the village (now in front of the Office de Tourisme). The inner wall enclosed the chateau and only the highest part of the village.
A literal translation of Châteauneuf-du-Pape, "the Pope's new house", is actually true. The Popes of Avignon built a summertime château (their summer palace) here to get away from the hustle-bustle of the Palais. Apart from the foundations, only two walls (towers?) remain of the chateau, but they're the ones facing the village, and they're still high and imposing, giving a good feeling of what it was like here centuries ago.
First record, 1157: Castrum Novum; 1215: Calcenarium. Called Chàteauneuf-Calcernier until the 16th century, because of the many lime (chaux) kilns in the area.
Medieval: It was the fief of Saint-Empire until the 12th century, when it passed to the control of the bishop of Avignon, and then to Saint Siège. Pope Jean XXII of Avignon built the chateau here in 1320. The town remained the summer home of the Avignon Popes through the 14th century. The chateau was sacked by the Routiers when Jean XXII died, and destroyed by the Protestants of Montbrun in 1562 at the beginning of the Wars of Religion. The town was ravaged by two Calvinist assaults during the Wars of Religion. The chateau was destroyed for the final time by the retreating Germans in 1944.
Office de Tourisme
Tel : 04 90 83 71 08; Fax: 04 90 83 50 34
Market: Friday morning, Place de la Renaissance
Fêtes: many activities all summer, and during wine harvesting season in Sept.
Fête des Vignerons: 25 April (St Marc)
Every June - Festival International de Musique
Every July - Fete de St Pierre de Luxembourg; religious festival, with night flame processions (every June or July)
Every July - Fete votive, including foot race around the village 3 july
Châteauneuf-du-Pape has its own well-know appellation, Châteauneuf-du-Pape as well as aoc Côtes de Rhône vineyards within the Côte-du-Rhône region.
Châteauneuf-du-Pape was the first vineyard in France, in 1924, to have all of its wine protected as an established name, delimiting the area and method of wine production. This was the forerunner of the statues of the Appellations d'Origine Contrôlées (AOC). (see Rhone Wines)
- Department 84, Vaucluse Buses
- See Beyond's Bus Schedules Page 2: Vaucluse Department for downloading Vaucluse bus-lines map [Plan global des lignes] and bus-line schedules [pdf for each line] (link for PDF files).
• Avignon has train or bus connections to Aix-en-Provence, Arles, Nîmes, Saint Remy-de-Provence, Paris.
• Cavaillon has bus connections to Aix-en-Provence, Arles, Saint Remy-de-Provence.
• Pertuis has bus connections to Aix-en-Provence and Marseille.
IGN (1/25,000) #3040 OT "Orange, Massif d'Uchaux"
IGN Verte (1/100,000) #59 "Privas, Ales"
Châteauneuf-du-Pape is, of course, amidst huges expanses of vineyards. There is, however, a marked hiking trail the loops out west of town, past the vineyards to the Rhône and back.
The life of Châteauneuf-du-Pape is wine: growing it, producing it and selling it. The surrounding countryside is all about growing and producing, with vineyards spreading across the hills, and wine "domains" everywhere, where you can sample and, of course, buy the wine. In the village, there's a shop every few steps where you can sample and purchase the wine. [Beyond-friend Marc has pointed out the humor in the rule of "Bacchus the god of wine in this city dominated by the popes!"
Stony Ground. The earth is amazingly rocky, but that's one of the secrets of the outstanding Châteauneuf-du-Pape wine (one of the world's best). The stones act as a storage heater, soaking up the Provencal sunshine during the day, and releasing the heat into the night, long after sunset.