The Beaujolais region has its own wine route, continuing on from the Burgundy Wine Route, passing through the region’s main tourist attractions and spanning 140 km total. If you don’t have time for a wine-sampling sojourn along the entire route, here are our top spots for village-hopping in Beaujolais.
The train station at the base of the village makes Châtillon d’Azergues one of the most accessible Beaujolais villages. The train station and the river sit at the bottom of the valley and a short walk uphill will reveal the village, clinging to the small hillside with its tumbledown castle perched right on top. The ruins of the chateaux can’t be visited, but it is worth a picture, as is the chapel next door, and you’re not far from other castles. It’s a mere 7 km from here to the pretty Bagnols.
Bagnols is another of the aptly named ‘golden villages’, with picture-perfect houses and streets, quaint towers and expansive views to the surrounding vineyards. The picturesque chateaux is now a luxurious, five-star hotel and you’ll also want to visit, or at least snap a photo of, the church and the Pigeonnier – a historic building formerly used for fertilising the grapes, sat in the centre of a field of vines. You’re spoilt for choice of wineries here, with Domaine de Baluce and Cave et Vin Jean-Paul Grillet in the south of the pint-sized village and Carron Pierre and Carron Daniel in the north. It’s the perfect spot from which to hike into the surrounding countryside via the ‘sentiers’ or way-marked pathways, which will lead you into the heart of wine country for magical views. From here, Oignt is around ten minutes’ or three kilometres.
Bois d'Oingt is positively a hub compared to some of the hamlets in the region, it’s a pretty, sunny town with plenty of shops, cafes and restaurants. You’re also very close to Moiré village. There isn’t much here but it’s nice for the view and a drive through, plus a stop at the church and to snap a picture of the pretty chateaux which is now a holiday home. From Bois d’Oignt, continue up the valle towards Oignt itself. The D120 road is a beautiful, scenic route through the valley, often drenched in sun and flanked either side by field upon field of grapes. Oignt is often listed as one of the most beautiful villages in France. It’s a petite collection of traditional houses built from honey-coloured stone, woven together with cobbled streets, vine-covered shop fronts and the famous tower – all that remains from the medieval castle. Here, every building is like a postcard and the views are impressive too – if you can, perch in a bar or restaurant with a view for sunset and live the French wine-country dream.
It’s only another three kilometres, or four-minute drive from Oignt to Thiezé, a typical, sleepy Beaujolais village. The roads here are scenic too, and you can even wend your way to the village via a vineyard or two; Domaine Bourbon and Domaine De Fond-vieille are both en route. This maze of cobbled streets is full of photo-worthy moments, as well as a church, the impressive Chateau de Rochebonne (open in September for a music festival) and a large stone cross from the 1500s. Not to mention, there are fabulous views of the sprawling vineyards and countryside beyond. Another few kilometres up the road (almost four) and you’ll find your next stop at Ville sur Jarnioux.
Ville sur Jarnioux is a little village stretched along a hillside, with streets and buildings straight out of a picture book. The main attraction here is Château de Jarnioux, found on Le Bourg street on the way up to the village. This castle is picture-perfect with its golden walls, terraced gardens and tall, pointed turrets which may or may not house a princess. Entry is with a tour only, at specific times of the day, but a visit is highly recommended. Every angle you view the village from is prettier than the next but a trip to the centre – Place de Ville sur Jarnioux – is a must. It’s simply a cluster of streets around an intricate church and with a highly rated and unpretentious restaurant, Auberge de la Place, steps away. What more could you want?
Winding roads snaking through vineyards and amazing views mark your route from Ville sur Jarnioux to Ternand (a mere 14 km away). This is another ancient Beaujolais village in the south of the region with an old-world charm. Wandering the golden-hued streets of this sleepy settlement feels like a step back in time. Park at the bottom of the village and stroll through the irresistibly photogenic village to the ruins of the castle and old fortifications, slowly being reclaimed by the flora. Don’t expect a lively few hours, but there’s an incredible peace on the cobbled walkways, lined with colourful plant pots and cats, especially when the sun is shining. Nearby, make a stop at the Jardins de la Rejonière flower gardens, which are free and open year-round. This colourful hillside spot is as enchanting as it is relaxing.
Around 20 kilometres drive through the rolling hills will have you climbing towards your next destination – stop as many times as your drive can bear to get photos of the view. These two small villages, or communes, are your entry point to pure wine country. From here, the roads become more winding, the pace of life slower and the vistas ever more beautiful as the vineyards spread luxuriously in all directions. There are several hiking and mountain biking points of interest nearby, like La Roche Folle, and both villages have petite and pretty centres with multiple opportunities to sample the produce of the famed vines. Clochemerle is a must-visit spot in Vaux-en-Beaujolais, while in Perreon Longere Jean Luc and Chateaux des Loges are both worthy of sampling.
The Quincié-en-Beaujolais region is a serene and beautiful area, only around 12 kilometres from Perreon. Marchampt is a great place to base yourself here, as it’s encircled by tempting vineyards and restaurants. The hilly village is popular with hikers, motorcyclists and road-trippers, also pausing for a moment to photograph the quaint buildings and sample the local produce. Nearby are Château de Varennes, Chemarin Nicolas and Ducrot Laurent wineries. Or, stop for a bite in the village at Une table dans le verger, a refined-yet-unpretentious restaurant with a glorious set menu, presented in haute-cuisine style. You’re now just 13 kilometres from Beaujeu.
The region is smattered with fairy-tale buildings and architecture, nestled in the rolling hills draped in vines. Beaujeu is no exception. In the historic centre of the village, expect tumble-down stone walls and cobbled streets, colourful shutters, bunting hung between the buildings and over-flowing window boxes. That’s before you even sample the stunning view down to the red-roofed settlement from any of the surrounding hills. It’s encircled by vineyards like the Vins Benedicte Aublanc and Domaine Dubost. Handily, you can also rent bikes (including electric) from the Maison du Terroir Beaujolais in the centre, so you can explore the stunning countryside to your heart’s content.
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