A Year in the Drôme Provencale

Whatever you want to do, you’re sure to be able to find it here. As well as a range of outdoor activities (walking, cycling, swimming, kayaking), you can discover the rich Provençale culture by wine-tasting at local vineyards, enjoying the traditional street market in Nyons, exploring Avignon, Orange and Vaison-La-Romaine for their rich heritage. Provence is renowned for the quality of its light, the varied landscapes and its traditional villages, all ideal for sketching, painting and photography.

Spring

Week by week, there is always something different to do and see here in the Drôme Provençale. Spring comes early: the apricot trees and the cherry trees start to blossom in March; Easter in Nyons brings the Corso (a local flower festival) and a fireworks and son et lumiere display; by April the vines are just starting to bud; by May we are enjoying the local asparagus, courgettes and strawberries, and cherries later in the month. In May the fields turn scarlet with poppies. Jam making continues with the plums and apricots in full season in June.

Spring in Provence is a wonderful time for personal renewal. Take time out for relaxation for body and mind, with gentle strolls and yoga, learning more about the local flora and fauna – including seeing the famous vultures catching the air currents at dusk. Or is it time to stretch those city-bound muscles and explore the hundreds of kilometres of fantastic cycling routes, and fitness training circuits. And of course what week would be complete without wine tasting, good food, and exploring the markets.

Spring Events to look out for:

  • the Corso, flower parade, fair and fireworks show Easter weekend
  • the annual ferme a ferme (open farms) is the last weekend in April.
  • the flower market in Nyons takes place on the 1st May.

Summer

From late June to early August the hillsides are swathed in blankets of lavender blue and the air is perfumed with the scents of lavender, rosemary and thyme. Now is the time to visit the local aromatic oils distilleries and watch the oil being extracted from the lavender flowers. The aromatic park (Jardin des Arômes) on the banks of the Eygues river in Nyons has an abundance of aromatic plants.

Local festivals reflect the range of local activities. When you arrive we’ll be able to let you know what’s happening where. Almost every village has its own festivals for Bastille Day on the 14th July – or else catch the fireworks display in Nyons or Saint Jalle.

By the end of July the south coast will be hotting up and filling up. But here a gentle breeze keeps the air moving (there are reputedly 52 local winds, all with their own names and characteristics). You will always be able to find peaceful spots for lazy picnics – made from the fresh local produce you’ve picked up at a local boulangerie, a road side fruit stall, or from a local farm. That’s if you haven’t stocked up at the famous street market of Nyons or Vaison-la-Romaine where you will be overwhelmed by the abundance of local produce, as well as the smells and colours of spices and herbs.

This area is famous for its Appellation Controllée olives. You can visit the Musée des Olives in Nyons, and local olive oil mills. Local farms produce the famous Picodon goats cheese, and you can go trout fishing for dinner at the organic trout farm in St Ferréol Trente Pas.

You will also want to check out the fresh fish and local produce in some of the great restaurants around. You won’t have to go far – the Charrette Bleue is our neighbour, just a few hundred metres behind the house. Or try the Petit Caveau in Nyons itself. And if you like wine – many of the best wines of France can be bought in Côtes du Rhône Villages vineyards. We can suggest some of our favourite caves for wine-tasting, as well as vineyards where you can see the whole wine-making cycle.

Autumn

Autumn is the time of the vendange – the wine harvest. It’s a season of purpose and abundance. Grapes grow so quickly – from the first leaves in April to row upon row of plants laden with purple grapes in September… By the end of the month the roads are busy with trailers taking the harvested grapes to the caves. Driving through the villages you can smell the wine in the air!

You might experience spectacular storms – we need the rain after a dry summer. But fear not – the sun isn’t far behind. The pool will be warm, and lazy lunches on the terrace are still the norm.

This area has spectacular autumn colours throughout October and into November. If you come at this time you might want to paint, take photographs and generally enjoy the colours of the local foliage. This is a wonderful time of year for walking and seeing the landscapes in a different light. It’s a great boost to your system in the last week of summer time before the winter evenings set in. Ask us about special rates for short breaks. Or renew your own creativity by making the most of the specialist tutors we can offer – anything from drawing, painting, photography, creative writing to cookery and yoga. It’s your time. You decide what you want to do.

Winter

In December the local olives are being harvested. There’s snow and skiing in the mountains from Christmas to the beginning of April.

Come and enjoy the atmosphere of a country house Christmas in Le Colombier. From an annual English Christmas carol concert in Vaison-la-Romaine, with mulled wine and traditional English mince pies, to seeing the Santons in the village church nativity scenes, there’s plenty to see and do; and plenty of time to laze in front of a wood fire and read, or join other house guests for a famous (or infamous) Le Colombier Murder Mystery evening. And you will be welcome to join us for a traditional “English” Christmas dinner – aperitifs on the terrace in the Provencale sun, then the full dinner with all the trimmings and none of the washing up.