During our girl’s getaway travels in southern France we spent two days in Grignan, an enchanting village in the northern part of Drome province. Perched high on top of a hill, and surrounded by lavender fields, olive trees, vineyards and truffles, the village is a perfect spot to discover how to live life in Provence.
While making our way through Grignan’s tiny, twisty streets we noticed the constant presence of white cats sunning and lounging lazily on the warm, copper colored cobblestones. We spotted at least four during our short walk around the town.
Was it the same cat following us on our travels or does Grignan only allow white cats to hang out in the village? Are the cats considered good luck or is this part of a ‘village branding exercise’ which also would include pastel colored shutters, stunning sun soaked buildings, and lots of lavender?
We never found out the true answer, but we like to think that, in the far distant past, Grignan’s white cats wove their way into the hearts of the villagers, just as this charming town wove it’s way into our hearts.
Where to Sleep
This gorgeous little inn was originally built by order of the Count of Grignan to house monks in the 17th century; in later years the building was converted into a truffle house and more recently served as a Canadian ambassador’s country residence.
Nestled against the walls of the village, and fronted by a lovely garden, the ancient house is now converted into a ten-room hotel. The owner Jean Luc Valadeau and his staff of eager, young and mostly bilingual employees work hard to make guests happy and are always willing to give suggestions of where to visit in the surrounding area. Across the street, the hotel also offers suites with a little more privacy in a renovated 18th-century house, the Grand Faubourg.
Favorite: Breakfast in the walled garden fragrant with climbing roses and the surrounding lavender fields. An excellent buffet is laid out in the magnificent old kitchen, which dates back to the time when monks lived in the house over a century ago.
Where to Eat
Clair de la Plume Organic Restaurant (May to September)
Bread, olive oil, vegetables, and cheese. Simple food prepared and presented with such perfection it turns individuals into drooling fools.
Favorite: Gazpacho soup made with tomatoes and watermelon.
This unassuming little restaurant creates superb food; it’s amazing to think that you can get this kind of quality in a tiny little village. These people take their food seriously.
Favorite: Chocolate mousse layered with florentines, topped with caramelized sugar and finely chopped almonds. Divine.
Where to Play
Chateau de Grignan – a grand Renaissance castle made famous by letters the Marquise de Sévigné wrote to her daughter, Madame de Grignan, in the 17th century. Daily self-directed tours available.
Musee et Atelier livre et typographie – typography museum
Grignan Village: Perched up high on a hill, a visit to Grignan makes you want to run away from the bustling cities of France to spend peaceful mornings drinking your cafe au lait in a walled garden fragrant with pink roses and afternoons strolling through sweet little boutiques offering local crafts, soaps and food. The village also boasts a twelfth century tower, summer night market, Christmas market in December, art galleries, Writing Festival (2nd week-end of July), and a Jazz Festival in November.