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RS Provence guidebook Cote Du Rhone hikes

There's a section in the RS Provence guidebook that describes a loop drive in the wine country around Cote Du Rhone, through villages such as Gigondas, Seguret and Vaison la Romaine. He describes two walks/hikes in that area: (1) starting in Gigondas and going up toward the Dentelles, and (2) starting in Vaison La Romaine and hiking toward either Le Crestet or Segurat. Has anyone taken those walks and have any advice? For example, which was your favorite, level of difficulty, was it hard to find the trail head and stay on the trail, was it worth the time? Although we're active 50-somethings we're not up for scrambling through rock fields or up cliff faces and won't have hiking boots with us. One reason I ask is that we blew some time in Spain a few years ago driving to and finding what sounded like a luscious hiking trail that turned out to be closed. It seems like trails in France are more 'volatile' than those here in the States based on what I've read so far. Just trying not to disappoint the family with a hike that doesn't work out.

Posted by
1525 posts

Although I did not do either of these hikes, we did spend a week at an apartment rental just outside of the village of Crestet, just south of Vaison La Romaine. Crestet is one of my favorite travel memories ever. There is almost nothing to do there and very little in terms of sights. But in the evenings, its like having and ancient village all to yourself. It is utterly charming. And it is also an entry point to the national park region which is full of paths and local roads that cut through the middle of the Cote Du Rhone loop. In particular, you can easily walk (with a map, and if you consider 5-7 miles easy) from Crestet to Suzette (which is also lovely) without having to drive around the loop. That's mostly on paved road, not rocky path. While we did not seek out rough hikes while there, we did take a lot of walks, and I would be surprised if any pathway was arduous. Just have a map with you. Even Google Maps on your computer, when zoomed in close enough, will show plenty of detail for an adventuresome walk. Print the map. Or look for a more official walking map of the region. But if you stick to local toads vs trails, Google maps is adequate. That area of France is lovely, but not in a way that is overwhelming, like standing on the rim of the Grand Canyon type of thing. It's just "pleasant". But I yearn to return to Crestet at sunset....

Posted by
396 posts

Thank you for the thoughtful reply! I hadn't thought of using Google Maps for planning walks - I'll give that a try. I have already purchased a couple of books that are specifically for hikes/walks in this area but the maps in both books are lacking in detail and it leaves me wondering whether we can find or follow the trail. I was hoping to rely on these books for info, but you're right, I probably need to buy a detailed hiking map. I think they're called IGN maps(?)

Posted by
16883 posts

I think a key part of that book listing is the advice to pick up a hiking map at the Tourist Information offices in both Vaison and Gigondas (short opening hours, described pp. 190, 195, & 209), or at least to stop and talk to them before heading out.

Posted by
1949 posts

If I make it to Le Crestet later in the day and decide only then that I don't want to walk back,
is there a taxi stand or public phone that I can use to get back to Vaison La Romaine (actually sleeping in Orange)?
Guesstimates on cost?
Thanks for any insights!

Posted by
653 posts

We took the RS guidebook walk from Vaison la Romaine to Crestet and it was great! Our B&B host in Vaison helped us with the directions, but the TI should have a map, too. We are also active 50-somethings and had no problems. The hike to Crestet is a gradual uphill on either a paved or dirt road with no scrambling over rocks. Once you arrive in the beautiful, little village of Crestet be sure to reward yourself with lunch or at least drinks at the only cafe/restaurant Le Panoramic. The walk back to Vaison was faster and easier since it was all down hill and we knew the way.

Posted by
729 posts

I'm not sure where you are getting your information about French trails, but we found the hiking in France to be excellent in terms of availability (much better than in our part of the states) and ease of finding our way around. We did a number of hikes/walks in different regions, maybe 6-7 altogether. In Vaison, we bought a booklet at the Tourist Info office for a few euros which contained instructions and maps for a number of hikes, including to Crestet. We did not do either of the hikes you mentioned, but the hike we did do was easy to follow and pleasant walking, no need for hiking boots. It was a very hot day so we weren't interested in doing anything strenuous. We did need a lot of water due to the heat. Bring sun hats too!

Since we were only doing one walk, we did not buy a good map, but they are available and very detailed. I don't think you need to worry about particular closures because there is so much available, a substitute walk would be right in the area.

Posted by
2251 posts

avirosemail and Christine, I'm sure you mean to say Crestet, not Le Crestet, as Le Crestet is 150 km away from Vaison La Romaine. I was thinking wow you are really avid hikers!

Posted by
1949 posts

Yes, I do mean Crestet, thanks for clarifying, Dave!

Trying to budget my time for the day trip to Vaison la Romaine -- if I have to make the bus back to Orange at 16:45h or 17:50h, and I want to enjoy market day and the ruins and the cathedral and the medieval upper town, is it at all realistic to also try and fit in an afternoon walk to Crestet and be back in time to make the bus that stops (apparently) at the Cave La Romaine a few blocks north of the TI? Too ambitious?