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  • Châteauneuf-du-Pape, France

Côtes du Rhône

The sunny Côtes du Rhône wine road — one of France's most engaging — starts at Avignon's doorstep and winds along a mountainous landscape carpeted with vines, studded with warm stone villages, and presided over by the Vesuvius-like Mont Ventoux. The wines of the Côtes du Rhône (grown on the côtes, or hillsides, of the Rhône River Valley) are easy on the palate and on your budget. But this hospitable place offers more than wine — its hill-capping villages inspire travel posters, its Roman ruins add a historical perspective, and the locals are, well, welcoming…and often as excited about their region as you are. Yes, you'll have good opportunities for enjoyable wine-tasting, but there is also a soul to this area…if you take the time to look and to listen.