Drôme (26790) Population: 1,963 Altitude: 129 m
Suze-la-Rousse is a jewel of a Beyond village. A compact village on the side of a wooded hill, with one of the best Medieval castles we've seen. The Château de Suze-la-Rousse has that rare combination of being big and magnificent, in near-original condition rather than just a ruin, and easily accessible.
Red-headed Suzy is our frivolous translation of the village name. Market day Fri.
Beyond's discovery of Suze-la-Rousse was one of those magical moments we run across from time to time. While driving back to join the autoroute and head for home after visiting the villages of Valréas and Richerenches, we came across a bridge into a tiny village, with a huge crenelated castle rising above out of the fog on a misty hilltop. Once we began exploring, we kept discovering more and more interesting sites, not the least of which was the wonderful chateau itself.
The old village is too small to have Beyond's desired "maze of streets", but the ones we found were well worth our explorations. There were some good examples of Medieval style architecture, and we photographed only a few of the old doors and doorways that we saw.
The stone bell tower is topped by a campanile, plainer than many we've seen but with a rather unique rounded shape. The same bell tower also has a dovecote, something else we haven't seen before on a tower top.
The 12th-14th century Chateau de Suze-la-Rousse towers over the village, not as a ruin but as a beautiful example of a large Medieval castle. Tall windows, thick buttresses, and round corner towers with crenelated top. The approach to the main gate at the western side (away from the village) is a across a walkway supported by tall stone arches.
The adjacent chateau park is also nicely renovated and an interesting site in its own right.
On the grounds of the chateau is a internationally recognized University of Wine. The university was created in 1978, and is a private school giving professional education in the different domains of wine, including growing, commercial management and marketing. It also includes a seminar center, a large documentation center, a specialized library, and, of course, wine tasting facilities.
Covered Grain Market
The village of Suze-la-Rousse has a 17th-century covered grain market (halle aux grains). It's renovated but no longer used, and has exposed roof beams supported by square stone columns.
While wandering the little lanes along the lower part of the village we made the pleasant discovery of a working fish farm. The fish basins cover the large courtyard area of a very nice looking farm, including a building with a second-floor row of picturesque arches.
The fish farm (pisciculture) is located on Rue de la Fontaine, at the northeastern edge of the village center [lat, long: 44.290263, 4.840809].
History of Suze-la-Rousse
First record, 793. According to information from the town, Charlemagne offered a "relais de chasse" (hunting lodge) to Guillaume au Cornet to reward him for his actions in the liberation of Orange.
The name derives from the Celtic "Uz", meaning high place. "La Rousse" could have been from the rosy color of the local stone used to build the chateau, but it's also said to be from the color of the hair of Marguerite des Baux, a daughter of the ruling nobles.
Celto-Ligurian: The original habitation here was probably an oppidum, on the "Garenne" hill, where the castle now stands.
Gallo-Roman: A Roman tomb and other furniture were discovered at Barry. Tiled Roman tombs and pottery at La Roussignole, and a necropole at Saint-Sauvaire.
Medieval: In the 11th century, Suze was a priory of the order of Saint Benoît. It became a fief of the Princes of Orange, and was later attached to the lords of Baux In the 16th century, Suze became a "comté", and in the 17th, a "marquisat" for the Baume-Suze, the last Lords of Suze.
Market day: Fri.
• GPS: 44.289204, 4.839622
IGN (1/25,000) #3039 ET "Valréas, Enclave des Papes, Pierrelatte"
IGN (1/25,000) #3040 OT "Orange, Massif d'Uchaux"