Alternative French city break with music, free coffee and croissants

I’M going to Vienne. You mean Vienna? 不, Vienne, a city in France.

As everyone thought I was off to the Austrian capital, the French clearly need to start shouting about their historical gem from the top of its amazing amphitheatre.

Trisha takes her free bike for a ride alongside the Rhone

Trisha takes her free bike for a ride alongside the Rhone信用: 提供
Roll out the barrel and enjoy a look around a wine cellar as part of your trip

Roll out the barrel and enjoy a look around a wine cellar as part of your trip
The streets are crammed every Saturday for one of France’s largest markets, 在哪里 350 stallholders sell food and fruit, homeware and hats

The streets are crammed every Saturday for one of France’s largest markets, 在哪里 350 stallholders sell food and fruit, homeware and hats

Sitting on the banks of the river Rhone in the south east of the country, Vienne is a good a city break destination as better-known Lyon, 20 miles north.

Wonderful wines, fabulous food, Roman ruins, jazz and jam. It has it all.

I visited during the summer Jazz Festival, when music takes over every corner of the city for two weeks, entertaining more than 200,000 粉丝们.

The beating heart of the event is the Theatre Antique, an amphitheatre built on a hillside around 40 到 50 广告.

It hosted legends such as George Benson and Herbie Hancock performing to a packed 8,000-strong crowd.

Strawberry and basil jam

I climbed up and up to find a spare spot on the stone steps and was treated to a spectacular sunset while George sang his Grammy award-winning Give Me The Night.

The festival boasts an all-night concert, with free coffee and croissants for those still jazzing at 5.30am.

What you need on the croissants is a spoonful or two of confiture made by Philippe Bruneton, officially the best jam-maker in France.

He produces 50,000 jars a year of specialities such as strawberry and basil and raspberry and chocolate in his workshop in nearby Longes.

I went on a group trip to visit his shop, no bigger than a garage, and we all came away with jars, costing from as little as £4.

Stay at Vienne’s quaint Grand Hotel de La Poste and you’ll be treated to even more of Philippe’s jam. It is on their superb breakfast buffet along with meats, cheese and homemade cakes.

The former 18th-century coaching inn with 36 individual rooms is perfectly placed, a two-minute walk from the station and surrounded by shops and restaurants. There’s no shortage of cycle routes along the river nearby and on roads winding through terraced vineyards and mountains.

If you stay in a city hotel, you can rent an electric bike free from the tourist board.

I took a guided tour along the ViaRhona bike path and watched canoeists on the river using considerably more energy than me.

Bike handed back, it was R&R — rest and refreshment — time with chef Philippe Girardon.

He has the Michelin-star Domaine de Clairefontaine, but we ate lunch at his nearby bistro, Le Cottage.

And we were treated to two amazing courses for £16. We gave the wine a miss to save ourselves for a tasting session at Maison E. Guigal, which produces up to nine million bottles a year.

Tastings cost from £10 and you can also visit its museum housing equipment, tools and Roman coins.

The Romans have left their mark throughout Vienne and a museum built on the archaeological site of Saint-Romain-en-Gal houses treasures including colourful mosaics.

There’s also an 11th-century cathedral, sculpted cloister, 50ft obelisk, which may or may not be the tomb of Roman governor Pontius Pilate, and the Temple of Augustus to be admired.

Vienne has the feel of a small French town — paved squares, narrow streets, wrought iron balconies and a café or restaurant on every corner. One of my favourite meals — giant criques (potato pancakes) with vegetables — was at L’Estancot, in the shadow of the cathedral.

The streets are crammed every Saturday for one of France’s largest markets, 在哪里 350 stallholders sell food and fruit, homeware and hats.

As well as a video of jazz supremo George, I went home with wine, jam — and the face of a pig, which I shall now explain.

While exploring Vienne, I came across potter Jean-Jacques Dubernard who makes unique glazed clay pieces in his small dusty workshop, with pottery wheel in the window.

And from his quirky animals, I chose my favourite, a pig. You wouldn’t find that in Vienna!

The beating heart of the event is the Theatre Antique, an amphitheatre, where I was treated to a spectacular sunset while George Benson sang his Grammy award-winning Give Me The Night

The beating heart of the event is the Theatre Antique, an amphitheatre, where I was treated to a spectacular sunset while George Benson sang his Grammy award-winning Give Me The Night信用: 提供

去: VIENNE

: Flights from Heathrow to Lyon from £98, 看 最东端.

To drive, Eurotunnel Le Shuttle offers one-way passage from Folkestone to Calais for a vehicle and up to nine passengers, from £87 each way. 锦上添花的是 Olly Smith 的酒吧 eurotunnel.com.

Three nights B&B at the three-star Grand Hotel de la Poste from £128 per person. 锦上添花的是 Olly Smith 的酒吧 grandhoteldelapostevienne.com.

Vienne guided walks from £6.45. 了解更多信息, 看 jazzavienne.com, tourisme-vienne.com/enalpes-isere.com.