•Drôme (26130) • Population: 8,340 • Altitude: 111 m
Saint Paul-Trois-Chateaux is a very ancient fortified town, and has some Roman ruins including an arc de triomphe. Medieval remains include vestiges of 14th century ramparts, a 12th century cathedral, the Eglise St Jean (an old cathedral) rebuilt in the 12th century by the Templiers, and the vestiges of a 14th century synagogue.
Saint Paul-Trois-Chateaux is a very nice town of about 7000 people, located 7 km north of Bollene, just over the "border" in the Drome (26) department. A couple of hotels and a fair number of restaurants make this a possible place to stay while visiting the area.
Saint Paul-Trois-Chateaux is a fortified, walled town, with many of the ancient walls still in place, and entrances into the old town via the original Medieval portes. The houses circling the town are built into the walls, not much changed today from the 12th-century origins.
La Porte Fanjoux is on the northern side of the town [Photo-02], entering through a gate tower with stone walls and a steep slate roof. The northern town walls have remained relatively intact over the centuries; the cold Mistral discouraged residents from adding windows to the stone protection.
The Porte Notre-Dame [Photo-06], in the southwest corner, is still intact, but the houses and shops in the adjacent walls are no longer able to withstand Saracen invasions.
The Cathedral Notre-Dame-et-Saint-Paul was an ancient Roman Catholic cathedral, rebuilt in the 12th century by the Templars, and now a national monument.
Saint Paul-Trois-Chateaux is one of the only two official truffle centers in France. The famous local truffle is the Black Truffle of Tricastin (Tuber Melanosporum).
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History of Saint Paul-Trois-Chateaux
The town name probably does not mean there were three chateaux. The Roman name was Augusta tricastinorum, changed to Saint Paul in the 4th century. The addition of Trois-Chateau was possibly from a bad translation of Saint-Paul-en-Tricastin, the name of the Gaulish people of the region and the more modern name of the Canton.
Prehistoric: Protohistoric wall engravings attest to a very ancient occupation here, beside the Rhône river.
Gallo-Roman: Many Roman artifacts in and around Saint Paul-Trois-Chateaux include an arc de triomphe, amphitheatre, vills, sanctuaries, bas-reliefs and mosaics.
The Vin AOC "Coteaux du Tricastin" is famous. (see Rhone Wines)
• GPS: 44.349594, 4.766302
IGN (1/25,000) #3039 ET "Valréas, Enclave des Papes, Pierrelatte"
There are low, wooded hills a couple of km east of Saint Paul-Trois-Chateaux, with hiking trails and riding trails. Some loop hikes are possible here, with on loop passing by the picturesque Notre-Dame de Toronne chapel and on to the village of Clansayes, with its tall Tour des Templiers.
To the north of the town, shorter trails follow country roads across the farmlands, past a pair of low hills and on to the village of La Garde-Adhémar, where there are even more trails.
South of Saint Paul-Trois-Chateaux is more urban; to the west is the autoroute, the Rhône, and a nuclear power station — not ideal for hiking.