Food worthy of the wine

Travels in Wine / Rhône

Travels in Wine: Great Places to Eat in the Rhône


Marcel Orford-Williams Marcel Orford-Williams

Marcel visits two of his favourite Rhône restaurants and raises a glass to a world-changing chef

Portrait of Paul Bocuse by Thierry Ehrmann
Credit: Thierry Ehrmann
- some adapations have been made to the
original image

The Rhône is not just about wine; it is also about food. There have been two noticeable recent deaths in France. There was Johnny Halliday, a singer of almost royal status whose funeral was witnessed by the great and the good including present and past presidents.

And then there was Paul Bocuse, a three-Michelin-starred chef from Lyon who passed away at the venerable age of 91. He believed in fresh ingredients of impeccable quality and a certain simplicity in style. His legacy lives on in so many great eating places.

There are two Rhône restaurants that are worthy of mention. Both are either on or just off the N7 trunk road.

Mangevins is in Tain l'Hermitage, tucked away in a side street, close by the famous foot suspension bridge. It is run by a charming Franco-Japanese couple. Keiko is in the kitchen with one helper and sometimes her daughter while Vincent manages the cellar and front of house. The menu is brief and marked up on a blackboard; there is a choice of meat or fish and a couple of starters. The wine list is inside Vincent's head and the choice is eclectic. The dishes are prepared with great care and precision with touches inspired by the Orient.

Dinner at the Beaugraviere with John Livingstone-Learmonth. Stunning food prepared by chef Guy Julien. His cellar is something else
Dinner at the Beaugraviere with
John Livingstone-Learmonth. Stunning food
prepared by chef Guy Julien. His cellar is something else

Closer in spirit to Bocuse and about an hour's drive south is La Beaugravière. Set in a large house, just off the N7, north of Orange, this has been one of the great culinary institutions for years offering classic dishes, often with a Provençal twist. And in season, there is no better place to sample truffles. Oeufs brouillés aux truffes is a favourite.

But what makes Beaugravière into a place of pilgrimage is the wine list. Pages of Châteauneufs represent all the top estates. But then there are also pages of Hermitage including Chave 1929. Prices used to be remarkably cheap. Not so these days but the list also includes a number of very good-value Côtes-du-Rhônes. It is owned by Guy Julien who cooks and when in the mood will also tell stories about the past. The place is a bit drab maybe, and the staff too, to be honest. They and the restaurant are unchanged since I first visited but they are always welcoming.

Great places to eat in the Rhône seem to be getting fewer. Motorways and more efficient cars mean people don't stop anymore. Prodigious lunches are no longer in fashion and the gendarmerie has a knack of knowing where to set their traps!

And so, ended my 2017 Rhône travels. These were all about looking back and tasting the 2016 and 2015 vintages, as well as looking forward to the new 2017 harvest. To do so, I visited well over a hundred estates between June and November.

Both vintages produced some stunning wines, and rarely have I had such fun tasting them. 2017 also promises to be very good though often in short supply. Tasting for next year's en primeur offer has started in earnest and there'll be much to look forward to.

Life on the Road! - the cheese course at restaurant, l'Oustalet in Gigondas
Life on the Road! - the cheese course at restaurant, l'Oustalet in Gigondas

Where to go next?

Members' Comments (3)

"Thanks for the restaurant tips Marcel, we are travelling down and stopping in Gigondas for a few days before moving on in a couple of weeks time, we have been to the area before and the only good restaurant we found without travelling was in Orange with a Michelin star and very reasonable as well, needless to say as with so many establishments, restaurants and hotels we have visited it appears to be the kiss of death and they close or retire, so... Read more > any additions are gratefully recieved."

Mr John Wigglesworth (31-Aug-2018)

"I made an error the restaurnt that closed was not the one we used on a regular basis, Le Parvis in Orange is still alive and well and worth a visit, apologies."

Mr John Wigglesworth (03-Sep-2018)

"This comes a bit late, as we've only just got back from the southern Rhone, and I didn't have password etc with me. I agree that it's more qand more4 difficult to find really good food in France, but here are two places that M O-W and J W (whom I thank for many helpful comments on the WS site) might like to try. The first is Chez Serge in Carpentras, not ideal for someone tasting wines in the filed as it's in the town and parking can be... Read more > difficult. On the other hand they specialize in truffles, and their summer truffles are fresh and served generously. The ambience is terrific (if you eat downstairs) and the wine list is very extensive and interesting -- different from the Beaugraviere as there is more from Ventoux. It's available on the restaurant's website. Coteaux et Fourchettes is nominally in Cairanne but in fact between that village and Violes. Good produce respectfully treated and beautifully presented. The wine list is extensive and eclectic. Both Chez Serge and Coteaux et Fourchettes have on their list the Domaine des Enchanteurs Cotes du Ventoux red from 2012. It is excellent, and I would have explored the domaine if I could only have found it, somewhere between St Hippolyte la Graviere and Aubignan. M O-W, please note!"

Professor Martin Dodsworth (26-Sep-2018)

Want more inspiration?

Sign up for a carefully-curated selection of recipes, guides, in-depth expertise and much more.

Our website uses cookies with the aim of providing you with a better service. By using this website you consent to The Wine Society using cookies in accordance with our policy.


4.4. Cookie Policy

By using The Wine Society website, you agree to cookies being used in accordance with the policy outlined below. If you do not agree to this, you must alter your browser settings to turn off cookies or block those types which are unacceptable to you or cease using the website.

The Wine Society uses cookies to enable easy navigation and shopping on the website. We take the privacy of all who use our website very seriously and ensure that our use of cookies complies with current EU legislation. The following guide outlines what cookies are, the types of cookies used on The Society's website and how they work.

You may alter your browser settings to turn off cookies or block those types which are unacceptable to you, but this will cause difficulties when accessing and using some areas of the site. Instructions on how to do this can also be found below.

4.4.1. What are 'Cookies'?

  • Most major websites use cookies.
  • A cookie is a very small data file placed on your hard drive by a web page server. It is essentially your access card, and cannot be executed as code or deliver viruses. It is uniquely yours and can only be read by the server that gave it to you.
  • Cookies cannot be used by themselves to identify you.
  • The purpose of a basic cookie is to tell the server that you returned to that web page or have items in your basket. Without cookies, websites and their servers have no memory. A cookie, like a key, enables swift passage from one place to the next.
  • Without a cookie every time you open a new web page the server where that page is stored will treat you like a completely new visitor.
  • More recently, cookies have also been used to collect information about the user which allows a profile of their preferences and interests to be created so that they can be served with interest-based rather than generic information about available goods and services.

4.4.2. How do Cookies help The Wine Society?

Cookies allow our website to function effectively. Cookies also help us to arrange content to match your preferred interests more quickly. We can learn what information is important to our visitors, and what isn't.

4.4.3. How does The Wine Society use cookies?

The Wine Society does not accept advertising from third parties and therefore, as a rule, does not serve third-party cookies. Exceptions to this include performance/analytical cookies (see below), used anonymously to improve the way our website works, the provision of personalised recommendations, and occasions when we may team up with suppliers to offer special discounts on goods or services.

The Society uses technology to track the patterns of behaviour of visitors to our site.

4.4.4. What type of cookies does The Wine Society use?

We use the following three types of cookies: Strictly Necessary Cookies
These cookies are required for the operation of our website, enabling you to move around the website and use its features, such as accessing secure areas of the website. Without these cookies, services like shopping baskets or e-billing cannot be provided. Under this heading, we currently use the following cookies:

  • Authentication Cookie and Anonymous Cookie
    These cookies remember that you are logged in to your account – without them, the website would repeatedly request your login details with each new page you visit during your time on our website. They are removed once your session has ended.
  • Session Cookie
    These cookies are used to remember who you are as you use our site: without them, the website would be unable to tell the difference between you and another Wine Society member and facilities such as your basket and the checkout process would therefore not be able to function. They too are removed once your session has ended. Functionality & Targeting/Tracking Cookies
These cookies are used to recognise you when you return to our website and to provide enhanced features. This allows us to personalise our content for you. Under this heading, we currently use the following cookies:

  • Unique User Cookie
    This cookie is used to:
    • store your share number in order to identify that you have visited the website before. Without this cookie, we would be unable to tell whether you are a member or not.
    • record your visit to the website, the pages you have visited and the links you have followed. We use this information to make our website, the content displayed on it and direct marketing communications we may send to you or contact you about more relevant to your interests.
    • This cookie expires after 13 months.
  • Peerius Cookies
    These third-party cookies are used to provide you with personalised recommendations based on your purchase and browsing history. They expire within 4 hours of your visit. Performance/analytical cookies
These cookies collect information about how visitors use a website, for instance which pages visitors go to most often, and if they get error messages from web pages. These cookies don't collect information which identifies a visitor. All information these cookies collect is aggregated and therefore anonymous. It is only used to improve how a website works. Under this heading, we currently use the following cookies:

  • Google Analytics Cookies
    These are third-party cookies to enable Google Analytics to monitor website traffic. All information is recorded anonymously. Using Google Analytics allows The Society to better understand how members use our site and monitor website traffic. Authentication Cookie
In order for us to ensure that your data remains secure it is necessary for us to verify that your session is authentic (i.e. it has not been compromised by a malicious user). We do this by storing an otherwise meaningless unique ID in a cookie for the duration of your visit. No personal information can be gained from this cookie.

4.4.5. How do you turn cookies off?

All modern browsers allow you to modify your cookie settings so that all cookies, or those types which are not acceptable to you, are blocked. However, please note that this may affect the successful functioning of the site, particularly if you block all cookies, including essential cookies. For example, In Internet Explorer, go to the Tools Menu, then go to Internet Options, then go to Privacy. Here you can change the rules your browser uses to accept cookies. You can find out more in the public sources mentioned below.

4.4.6. Learn more about cookies

4.4.7. Changes to our cookie policy

Any changes we may make to our cookie policy in the future will be posted on the website and, where appropriate, notified to you by email. Please check back frequently to see any updates and changes to our cookie policy.