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Excursion to the Drôme Provençale region

Travelling remains difficult at the moment, especially if you want to cross your country’s borders. Throughout summer, we will be offering you a breath of fresh air as we take you through regions that are home to facilities owned by Alpiq or its partners. Perhaps you will want to discover these places for yourself on your next trip?  

The Mistral wind is frequently present in the lower Rhone valley. The dry and at times strong downwind from the northwest provides a welcome cooling off in midsummer. Together with Mediterranean winds from the south, it provides ideal conditions for using wind energy to produce electricity. One of these wind farms, which converts the renewable energy of the Mistral into climate-friendly electricity, is the Roussas-Gravières wind farm in the department of Drôme. It has been in operation since 2006 and has been 100% owned by Alpiq since 2008.

If you drive south with the Mistral wind behind you, you will see the six turbines of Roussas-Gravières as you get to Montélimar – they are on the left-hand side of the Autoroute du Soleil. With a capacity of 10.5 MW, the wind farm produces an average of almost 25 GWh of electricity per year. This is enough to supply around 6,000 households. A comprehensive repowering programme is currently being planned. In 2023 and 2024, the six turbines will be replaced by more powerful and more efficient turbines, increasing the annual electricity production by 30%.

Roussas-Gravières is located in the municipality of Roussas in the department of Drôme at the gateway to Provence. The region is therefore known as Drôme Provençale. This name is well deserved because of the lavender fields that cover the landscape in violet, especially at the end of June, as Antoine Millard explains. “When the lavender is in bloom, I particularly like the magnificent landscape of the Provençal hills and plateaus”.

Antoine Millard works at Alpiq in Toulouse, more than 300 km further west. He is responsible for the operation of the Alpiq production facilities for electricity from renewable energy in France. Consequently, Antoine Millard travels several times a year to the Drôme Provençale region and enthuses: “The predominantly sunny climate is very pleasant all year round, but especially in late spring and early autumn. In addition to the lavender fields, the landscape is covered in olive groves and oak, pine and cypress trees. The wind carries their fragrance across the countryside and mixes it with the scents of thyme, rosemary and lavender. It’s just sublime!”

  • Panorama: The six turbines of Roussas-Gravières are situated on a plateau and share the spot with a flock of sheep. “Up at the turbines, there is a fantastic panoramic view right across the Rhone valley, to Mont Ventoux and the Cévennes mountain range”, says Antoine Millard. However, the wind turbines are not open to the general public, so for anyone who wants to enjoy the panorama, he recommends the nearby town of Grignan with its famous castle, a magnificent Renaissance building with an inviting terrace, or even the town of Allan, with its historic “Chapelle Notre Dame”, which was first mentioned in 1183.
  • Specialities: Fans of nougat and truffles will especially enjoy a trip to the Drôme region, as it is well known for both of these specialities far beyond its borders. Montélimar is the unofficial capital of nougat. The production of this sweet delicacy is said to have been a tradition here for over 500 years – and of course it is made to a special recipe, with lavender honey as one of its ingredients. The “Suprem Nougat” factory and the “Palais des Bonbons de Nougat” museum in Montélimar are among the best places to visit. While nougat is sold all-year-round in the Drôme region, the high season for truffles is from mid-November. Antoine Millard is a self-confessed fan of this speciality from the hills of the Drôme. “There are a number of restaurants that are famous for their truffles,” says Antoine Millard. “I can especially recommend the star-rated restaurant “Clair de la Plume” in Grignan. I experienced a culinary journey there that I have very fond memories of”.
  • Wine tasting: In addition to its culinary delights, the Drôme region is famous for its excellent wines such as “Grignan-les-Adhémar”, “Côtes du Rhône”, “Gigondas”, “Vaqueras”, “Ventoux” and “Châteauneuf-du-Pape”. The grape varieties Marsanne, Roussane, Syrah and Grenache thrive perfectly in the clay and limestone and produce a full-bodied, spicy and slightly woody red wine. Antoine Millard particularly recommends a visit to the “Domaine de Grangeneuve” winery: “The estate is known for its strong and spicy wines, which are typical of the region. I particularly like the “Terre d'Epices”, a fairly woody red wine, and “Les Dames Blanches”, a dry, fruity white wine.