Leaving Aix-Les-Bains and Lac Bourget behind, our route now takes us towards the vineyards of The Rhône. Before long, we’re turning inland, meandering along the most gorgeous wine-route beside the picturesque Rhône River.
This is late September, but the Summer heat is still strong. The night’s may becoming shorter but this time of year in France can still be magical.
Soon, we’re finding ourselves on an elevated road, where the vines cling to the slopes, either side of us. Of course, it’s somewhere we’ve been before, but not for many years and to be back is rather exciting.
Remembering the wine tasting experiences of yesteryear and a crate of Rosé sitting proudly in the garage of one of our early motorhomes. That was a wine and a half and one that we enjoyed for some months afterwards.
No sooner are we enjoying our drive along this wine route, than we notice a little chapel perched between the vines. So, deciding to take a detour along a dirt track lead to this quaint find in the most beautiful of settings.
Parking up the campervan beside the rows of vines brings an opportunity to take a closer look. We step out onto the gravel, admiring the grapes dangling from the leafy rows. It fascinating just how perfect each row looks. Not only are they pristine in symmetry but these grapes are ripening well for picking, harvest time will soon be here.
A walk up to the chapel is a must, here we pass a family as they enjoy a picnic beneath a tree. The chapel itself, overlooks this vine-filled countryside, which seems to go on for miles. Then, below is the Rhône River, flowing gently through pretty villages and open countryside. To be honest, it’s all rather idyllic!
We soon find out that this gorgeous little chapel is called Chapelle Saint-Romain. Furthermore, it’s location on Saint-Romain Hill has a fascinating past.
That’s because, this hill dates back to the year 504, and home to the oldest Christian inscription in the region. The ancient tablet was dedicated to the Roman God Silvanus, God of herds, fields and gardens as well as being friend to all peasants.
Of course, we can think of no better place to have such a strong symbolic connection than here. As we stand surrounded by these lush vines of modern times – simply breathtaking.
We leave the Chapel behind, walking beside the vines as we go. Next, it’s time to follow the Rhône River, where leafy overhangs of the trees cast shadows on the waters edge. Then, we come to the most picturesque canal side setting and the village of Chanaz.
This charming village, with waterside outdoor restaurants, canal boats and kayakers has an abundance of character. The quaint, stone buildings are typically French and provide the perfect backdrop to this idyllic location.
Then, we realise, as so many times on this trip – yes – we’ve been here before! So, it’s time to find somewhere to park for the night and where better than the dedicated Aire just outside the centre of the village.
We park at the Aire just as storm clouds are gathering in the distance. It’s an ideal overnight stop, with a choice of a few parking areas costing just 5 Euro a night and payable at a parking machine.
It’s only a few minutes walk to the canal and village centre, but the thunder, lightening and heavy rain is now right overhead. As the night sky draws in, the skies clear, so we set out on foot to take a closer look around.
When we reach the canal, the restaurants are serving diners amongst the romantic setting next to the water. The reflection of fairy lights add to the ambience, how inviting it all looks.
The next morning we once again set out on foot. Soon, we’re crossing the steep arched bridge over the canal, where kayakers pass below.
It’s not long before we’re exploring the narrow backstreets of the historic centre, where we find an old water mill. There’s a woodland path adjacent, so we follow the signs amongst the trees. Then we notice a different path, veering off towards a viewpoint.
Our legs continue upwards, before we come across a section marked “difficult”! Yes, here we have to haul ourselves up a rocky section, using the steel handrails and metal rope to tug us up. After a bit of an effort, we emerge into a beautiful forest.
The viewpoint lives up to its name, giving a panorama of the village of Chanaz, reaching out towards the Rhône river and mountains beyond.
After a good pause to take in the views from the viewpoint, we head back towards the village. Then we come across not one but two communal bread houses, set amongst the vegetable plots of the village.
These stone buildings are just brilliant! Imagine the smell of freshly baked bread filling the air, let alone all the local gossip that must have gone on whilst waiting for them to bake!
A quick detour leads us to an antiques warehouse, an Aladdins cave of artefacts from the past. Here, there seemed to be everything on show, from pickled body parts to vinyl records and 60’s furniture – enough to make us chuckle!
After arriving back at the campervan, we decide to move on. This time, we’re driving along the Rhône River towards the town of Seyssel.
Now, we have high hopes for this riverside town and have no hesitation in parking up on another Aire beside the river.
Unfortunately, it’s not long before the rain returns, but despite looking like Seyssel is a promising place, we soon feel a little deflated.
After setting out on foot, we walked beside the river and into the centre. To reach the old part of town, first we have to cross a rather pretty suspension bridge which spans the river. It’s an ok type of town, without the wow factor we’d hoped for but probably in better weather, with the sun shining, it would make a good place to spend a day or so.
For us, a quick look around has stretched the legs but not made enough impact to stay longer. Instead, we walk back along the Rhône, passing a new Aire under construction in the process. Oh joy – don’t you just love the French and their love of motorhome travel!