What is the Enclave of the Popes?
One of a kind! Four communes of the Vaucluse enclosed in the Drôme: it gives the Enclave des Papes! Imagine a piece of territory that belongs administratively to the Provence-Alpes-Côte-d’Azur region but which is geographically located in its neighbour, the Drôme Provençale, in the Auvergne-Rhône-Alpes region. Imagine yourself: A piece of Vaucluse (84) in the Drôme (26), 2 departments in 2 different regions, conclusion: it is better to send your children to the same school 😉 To understand this “administrative exception”, which dates back 700 years, we must go back to the time when the popes still lived in Avignon.
The history of the Popes enclave
The origin of the Enclave des Papes goes back to 13ème siècle. Rome is experiencing a period of struggle marked by violent clashes. Destabilized and feeling threatened, the Popes left Rome to settle in Avignon (1309).
Pope John XXII was very ill when he returned from Lyon, where he had just been elected (1317). On the way, he tasted the wine of Valréas, felt much better and healed quickly. He concluded that this wine was miraculous! To dispose of it at his convenience, he bought Valréas and its vineyards in the State of Dauphiné. Thereafter, the territory expands with Richerenches, thanks to the heritage of the Templar properties, Visan and Grillon.
But, curiously, when delimiting the new lands acquired, the pontifical administration noticed that a strip of land (Tulette) separated the current Vaucluse from the enclave. The Pope wanted to buy this land from the King of France, but the latter, worried about the advance of the Holy See, refused to sell it: The Enclave was born! It is only after the Revolution, the inhabitants of the enclave were given the choice to remain Vauclusian or become Drôme.
Did you know?
There is a circuit on the municipal roads where you can admire the papal markers that served to delimit the Enclave. Take the time to observe the emblems of the Comtat Venaissin: intertwined keys and sculpted coats of arms. It is a 2h30 walk accessible to all, the tour is available at the Tourist Office of Grignan – Enclave des Papes.
What to do in the Enclave of the Popes?
Calades, ramparts, belfries, chapels… the villages gather a rich varied heritage that you can admire from the old center. Take advantage of this opportunity to visit the château Simiane and the cartonnage museum in Valréas. If you come to Richerenches between December and March, we recommend the truffles market on Saturday morning, a friendly atmosphere is guaranteed.