THE 'DRÔME PROVENCALE'
It is difficult to present the Drôme in two words, as this little corner of France is rich in discoveries, history, hiking, culture, gastronomy... We gathered some information here to guide you around our region.
A little bit of geography :
Historically, the 'Drôme' was part of the 'Dauphiné', though many Provencal enclaves south of the department were already present in the Middle Ages. Currently, the Drôme represents roughly the southern third of the department in the Rhône-Alpes region.
Montelimar, the main city, is located approx. 600 km from Paris, 170 km from Marseille, 150 from Lyon, 290 km of Geneva, 830 km and 840 km repectively from Lille and Brussels.
The Drôme Provençale extends from the Alps to the Rhone Valley. It lies on various small ranges, valleys and plains, and its altitude varies from 50 m to 1600 m.
Le Mas de la Fontaine is located at 400 m above sea level, midways between Nyons and Grignan, at the foot of the mountain "la Lance", the second highest mountain in the Drôme (1338 m), after the Mount Ventoux (1911 m).
Around the Mas, the landscape is divided between woods and oak forests, lavender fields, vineyards, olive trees, and apricot and cherry orchards. In late summer and winter the truffle harvest starts. Truffles are harvested at the foot of our oaks: summer truffle - tuber aestivum and black truffles - tuber melanosporum, which is the black diamond in the area!
It is our custom to say that Provence begins in Montelimar! And it is true that often when it rains in the north of the Drôme, the sun shines in Montelimar: we are definitely in the Provence!
Le Mas de la Fontaine enjoys an attenuated Mediterranean climate. The sun is just as much present in the Rhone valley, but then a little cooler. In summer, this is much appreciated! It sometimes rains, but never for very long: after a day or two, the Mistral blows the sky clear and the sun reappears in a deep blue "Provencal sky". The mountains somewhat protect us, and what comes through is often welcome to freshen up the burning heat of summer. That also means that the nights are usually cool, which benefits sleep.
History of our region :
The area is rich in Roman relics and excavations regularly take place in the area. Our modest village replaced the old Gallo-Roman city of Alétanum, which was the capital of the Gallic tribe of Aletani and was destroyed in the great barbarian invasions. Monks settled in the ruins and built a monastery in which were burned the Saracens in the eighth century. A Gallo-Roman settlement that crowned the hill of Saint-Marcel and later replaced a castle appear to have been the stronghold of the lost city. The Archaeological Museum of Le Pègue remains a surprising discovery, since it contains 'oinochoai' (vases for payment) which are pseudo-Ionian ceramics from workshops related to Massalia (Marseille). This has led to the assumption that wine was consumed here between the middle of the sixth century BC and the fourth century BC.
Many hiking tracks can be followed throughout the Drôme. At the foot of the 'Mas de la Fontaine' and a few miles farther on various walks of all difficulty levels start. They are often marked and can lead you to discover stunning sceneries.
We have hiking maps of various nearby tracks for our guests. For those who love geocaching, there are multiple hiding places to be discovered nearby!
The surroundings of Mount Ventoux are a paradise for cyclists, especially for climbers! In our neighbourhood , you can already climb hills and descend valleys on small, quiet county roads where you will not be bothered by cars. For the more adventurous, the Ventoux climb is a must, which allows to discover a beautiful view covering a huge area. On clear days, the Mediterranean can be seen in the distance!
The past of the Drôme is rich in history. Gallo-Roman to modern times, every era has left its mark upon the area. Close to the Mas de la Fontaine, many villages bear witness to this historic past: Le Pègue and its archaeological museum, Vaison la Romaine and its ancient city, Grignan, Suze la Rousse and Montelimar and their castles, Orange and its ancient theater, Taulignan and its silk museum, etc. etc.
Virtually every town and village holds regular festivals: Jazz Festival in Dieulefit, Correspondence festival in Grignan, opera festival in Orange (in the old Roman theatre) and many others. There are also numerous regional markets to discover (pottery, crafts, Christmas...)
In spring and summer, flea markets and garage sales are organized in every village, and town festivals and village festivals that invite you to good humor, conviviality and dancing.
Finally, several festivals dedicated to lavender, truffle and the vines are held throughout the year. They are a good opportunity to discover local products, to learn about production and taste the finished products.
Deep green in spring, landscapes have a drier appearance early in the summer. Yet the Drôme is rich in water, but it is mainly found underground. Springs, streams, rivulets form a mosaic to discover hiking.
The vegetation is essentially Mediterranean. In spring the roadsides and slopes are dotted with beautiful wild flowers. Entire fields of poppies brighten up the lavender and wheat crops, and roses (planted by growers as disease indicators) enliven the surrounding vineyards.
For amateurs, the show "Rare Plants - natural garden" in Sérignan le Comtat, takes place by mid-April. 25 km from the Mas de la Fontaine, above the Vaucluse.