Welcome to Valréas
Between the departments of Drôme and Vaucluse, there lies a there is a region called the Enclave des Papes. Its capital, Valréas, combines the charm of an ancient city with the remarkable landscapes of Drôme Provençale. Situated 38 kilometers from the Bastets campsite, it invites you to discover its extraordinary cultural heritage and nature.
Popes, penitents and marquises
The traces of the papacy, which reigned here before the enclave was attached to the kingdom of France, are ubiquitous. The architectural heritage of Valréas is full of gems such as the Romanesque tower of the old Ripert castle, or the huge Notre Dame de Nazareth church dating from the 12th century, its nativity scene with century-old figurines is famous across Provence. The governance of the popes also gave birth to local monastic orders, like that of the White Penitents who devoted themselves to the sick.
In Valréas, even married men could occasionally join the order of Franciscan monks while preserving their social and family ties. To keep their anonymity, these Black Penitents wore a black hood when they served in the chapel of the Grande Rue.
As for its aristocracy, Valréas also has a lot to show. Plan a visit of the Château de Simiane where the town hall is currently located. Built in the 17th century, the magnificent residence was acquired by Pauline, the favourite granddaughter of the Marquise de Sévigné who frequently resided at the Château de Grignan located 8 kilometers away! Simiane offers visitors a collection of rare books, some of which date from before the creation of the printing press.
Vines, truffles and cardboard
In the sunny Drôme Provençale, explore the vineyards planted with Syrah and Grenache grape varieties. Around Valréas, the Grignan-Les-Adhémar appellation will delight you with elegant, balanced and fruity wines.
These hills are also the cradle of truffle oaks and, therefore, of truffles. The regional emblem is the black truffle called Rabasse, the star of European truffle markets.
Walk or bike to the vineyards and truffle fields using the Bornes Papales circuit.
Valréas is also the place where Ferdinand Revoul, hardware store, invented in the 19th century the very first cardboard boxes for transportation. To discover the fascinating history of this modest benchmark in the industrial revolution, visit the Departmental Cardboard and Printing Museum.
All the facets of Drôme Provençale
Valréas and its surroundings have much more to offer – such as the Museum of Archeology and Paleontology that will take you back in time with its artefacts from the Gallo-Roman era to prehistory.
A few steps away from the town centre, lies the Lake Valréas with its bar, its restaurant by the water and its petanque courts sheltered by plane trees. This one is the ideal place for a nature break with the family.
A detour to the nearby Roudol farm will be a culinary delight. The farm produces free-range eggs, seasonal vegetables, and the famous AOP Picodon, the delicious goat’s cheese.