Sunday, December 23, 2012

Le Verger des Papes, a good choice for lunch between your wine tasting visits in Châteauneuf-du-Pape

After our dégustation (tasting) at the winery, we headed back to Châteauneuf-du-Pape for lunch. Châteauneuf-du-Pape is the most famous wine-making village in the Southern Côtes du Rhône AOC. It's a medieval village on the side of a hill below the ruins of a castle built by Pope John XXII in 1320 as a summer getaway from Avignon.

The village of Châteauneuf-du-Pape was once circled by two walls, of which there are just a few traces which remain. The outer wall enclosed the lower part of the village and an inner wall enclosed the castle and the upper part of the village.

We found a little spot to park near Place du Portail which is the center of Châteauneuf-du-Pape.

The village streets are narrow and wind around the hillside and up to the castle which sits at the summit of the village. The buildings are old, but they have been carefully restored. As you walk around, you can see this is a village devoted to making and selling wine.

A magnificent tower with a clock at the top stands next to the Hôtel de Ville.

In the center of Châteauneuf-du-Pape and on the nearby side streets there are a large number of caveau (wine cellars) where you can taste and buy wine. The caveaux are all different from each other. Some are very fancy, others are very simple. Some are on the ground floor of a village house, others you need to go down a narrow passageway.

There are several restaurants around the center of Châteauneuf-du-Pape including La Mère Germaine near the fountain. Somewhat surprisingly, despite all of the great wine produced in Châteauneuf-du-Pape, we have not found a great restaurant there. We were headed to Le Verger des Papes which had been recommended as the "best in the village" by our friends at Domaine de la Charbonnière.

It is not known for sure when the church of Notre Dame de l'Assomption was built but it is thought that construction probably occurred around the end of the 11th century when the first fortifications were built in the village.

As I said, we were on our way to Le Verger des Papes which is just below the castle. Apart from the foundations, only two walls of the Pope's castle remain, but they are the walls that face the village, and as they are high up and impressive in size, they give a good sense of what it was like in the village centuries ago

The gated entrance to Le Verger des Papes restaurant is just a few steps below the Pope's castle.

The terrace which is shaded by pine and olive trees has a great view of the Pope's castle and provides a panoramic view of the Comtat Venaissin and Mont Ventoux to the east, Avignon, the Pope's Palace and the Luberon mountains to the south and the vineyards of Châteauneuf-du-Pape out to the Rhône River.

The Le Verger des Papes restaurant has been in business for 21 years and caters to a mix of local wine makers and tourists. Tables were simply set and decorated with a small lavender pot.

As you can imagine, the restaurant has an extensive selection of wines from Châteauneuf-du-Pape. We chose a bottle of the 2009 Clos du Mont Olivet, a selection on our wine list at Bistro Des Copains pretty much since day 1. They also have a shop next to the restaurant where you can choose from among 200 different bottles of Châteauneuf-du-Pape wine.

I decided on the 19 Euro three-course Menu du Jour. Shirley ordered off the La Carte menu. The first course on the Menu du Jour was salmon cooked on a plancha, which is a metal flat top. The chef made Shirley a green salad like she wanted even though it was not on the menu. Unfortunately, I did not get a picture.

For her main course, Shirley chose a tasty fusilli (corkscrew shaped) pasta with pesto sauce garnished with a few partially cooked tomatoes.

For my main course, I ordered the sauteed veal and mushrooms accompanied by a few vegetables on the side.

For dessert, we shared the Vacherin de Citron, baked meringue with ice cream with lots of whipped cream which was included with my three-course menu.

At the end of our meal, I can say we were very happy we came to Le Verger des Papes. Here is Shirley relaxing on the terrace with a good view of the sights you can see from Le Verger des Papes.

While Le Verger des Papes is not a great restaurant, at least based upon what we had for lunch, it is the best we have tried in the village and a very good option for a pleasant lunch between your visit to the Pope's castle, a tour of the village and tastings at the many caveaux and wineries in the area.

Have a great day and we hope you will have a very Merry Christmas. Here the house is festively decorated and the tree has an embarrassing number of presents piled around it. I will be trying to relax this week as I recover from Friday's arthroscopic knee surgery.

Bonne journée mes amis et à bientôt.

Le Verger des Papes
4 Rue du Chateau
84230 Châteauneuf-du-Pape
Tel: 04 90 83 50 40


  1. Joyeux Noël to you and all the family and a speedy recovery for your knee!

  2. My Toulon cousin and I are planning a trip to Chateauneuf-du-Pape in the spring so I'll be keeping a note of this restaurant. Thanks for another great find Michel!

  3. Barbara - Thanks so much! I am making very good progress and have not had to use any crutches only taken pain medication two times. Happy New Year!

    Sara - I would suggest you reserve a table before you go or right away when you get to Chateauneuf-du-Pape so you get a table. They fill up fast. The food is very good and the views are fabulous not to mention the extensive wine cellar.