Along the right bank of the Rhone River across from Les Roches de Condrieu, the hillsides are lined with vineyards.
We are in the northern area of the Cotes du Rhone wine region; a sub-region ranging from Vienne to Valence. Cotes du Rhone wines are expensive (15-35 euros/bottle) due to the difficulty of cultivating the grapes from these very steep hillsides.
The grapes, predominantly Syrah variety, are picked manually. Cotes du Rhone wines may be red, rose, or white; there are varying ratios of grape:grape for each blend. Other grapes include Grenache (noir and blanc), Cinsault, and Mourvedre.
Far more interesting than sampling the Cotes du Rhone wines (which we do each evening at supper, but grocery store varieties from 4-8 euros/bottle) is exploring the breathtaking country side on which the grapes are grown. During our stay at Les Roches de Condrieu, Brian and I ventured over the hills beyond the riverbed.
The hills beginning our ride were not the only challenge. A broken bike chain gave us a long time-out while Brian repaired it. We don't have the tool required, but eventually using two rocks worked to pound the link back into place.
We'd found marked road trails for cycling through the Mont du Pilat National Park, and selected the easiest possible route given our cycling ability. This trip really kicked our exercise routine into full gear!
The day was fabulous! We biked up, up, up the vineyard laden hills to exit the town of Condrieu. Then we found ourselves in the middle of lush farm country. Where the land was not planted, it was thickly wooded, or there were cows or goats grazing. There were few cars, thank goodness because the roads were very narrow. French drivers however, are very tolerant and polite to cyclists and pedestrians.
We'd certainly worked up a thirst! Maybe we can find a shortcut back to an awaiting bottle of Cotes du Rhone!