Renowned for its full-bodied reds, Châteauneuf-du-Pape is one of the breakout stars of the Rhône Valley wine region and a firm favorite among wine lovers. The hilltop village is undeniably picturesque, with its imposing castle, atmospheric medieval streets, and magnificent views over the vineyards below.
Most visitors choose to explore Châteauneuf-du-Pape on a half- or full-day tour from Marseille, Avignon, or Aix-en-Provence. A typical day-trip itinerary includes wine tasting in Châteauneuf-du-Pape, a walking tour of Provence villages such as Les Baux de Provence or Arles, and a stop at the towns of Orange and Avignon, both UNESCO World Heritage Sites.
For wine enthusiasts, a Rhône Valley wine tour is an ideal introduction to French wine. In addition to Châteauneuf-du-Pape, most tours include a stop at wine-producing towns such as Tavel, Mont Ventoux, Gigondas, and Beaumes-de-Venise.
Things to Know Before You Go
- The legal drinking age in France is 18, but many wineries offer grape juice or nonalcoholic alternatives for children or nondrinkers.
- Wear comfortable walking shoes—the streets of Châteauneuf-du-Pape are cobbled and steep in places.
- The Tourist Information Office in Châteauneuf-du-Pape offers maps and information on wine tasting in the region.
- In the village of Châteauneuf-du-Pape, there are a number of wine cellars where you can enjoy wine tasting without having to book, even in high season.
How to Get to There
Châteauneuf-du-Pape is about a 30-minute drive north of Avignon, and buses run frequently from Avignon’s central bus station. To explore the surrounding wine estates and villages, you’ll need your own transport. For those interested in the local wine, it’s a good idea to visit as part of a group or private tour with a designated driver.
When to Get There
The main tourist season for the Rhône Valley is from April to October, and many wineries, guesthouses, and restaurants close their doors outside of this period. July and August are by far the busiest months, when the small village of Châteauneuf-du-Pape can get crowded. It’s best to book tours and wine tastings in advance during the high season.
The Wines of Châteauneuf-du-Pape
Châteauneuf-du-Pape is best known for its bold and fruity red wines—around 95% of the region’s production is red wine—with a high alcohol content (a minimum of 12.5%). The most common grapes in this region famed for its unique terroir are grenache, syrah, and mourvèdre. Of the more than 300 wineries in the area, some of the most prestigious wine estates are Château Mont-Redon, Château La Nerthe, and Domaine de Beaurenard.