04 : Mours-St Eusèbe to Roche-de-Glun

In the crops and vineyards of the Isère plain

 

DIDIER HEUMANN, ANDREAS PAPASAVVAS

 

 

 

We divided the course into several sections to make it easier to see. For each section, the maps show the course, the slopes found on the course, and the state of the roads. The courses were drawn on the “Wikilocs” platform. Today, it is no longer necessary to walk around with detailed maps in your pocket or bag. If you have a mobile phone or tablet, you can easily follow routes live.

For this stage, here is the link:

https://fr.wikiloc.com/itineraires-randonnee/mours-saint-eusebe-auvergne-rhone-alpes-france-32845854

It is obviously not the case for all pilgrims to be comfortable with reading GPS and routes on a laptop, and there are still many places in France without an Internet connection. Therefore, you’ll find soon a book on Amazon that deals with this course.

If you only want to consult lodging of the stage, go directly to the bottom of the page.

Today’s stage is one of those transition stages that are sometimes found on the Camino de Santiago, when the track passes from one region to another. Here, you have to walk from the hills of Chambaran to the hills of Ardèche, on the other side of the Rhône and the Isère. And all this happens on the plain. However, the landscape is not always uniform, and if you like vineyards, you will be satisfied. This is where the great Crozes-Ermitage vineyard extends. And then, at the end of the stage, you’ll find back the majestic Rhône, which is not nothing. It is also today that the route will go to the end of the Drôme department, to reach the Ardèche and its hills the next day.

Difficulty of the course: Slope variations (+23 meters/-74 meters) are totally derisory. It is flat, without any difficulty.

 

It is flat yes, but almost the whole route is on the paved road:

  • Paved roads: 19.4 km
  • Dirt roads: 1.0 km

Sometimes, for reasons of logistics or housing possibilities, these stages mix routes operated on different days, having passed several times on Via Podiensis. From then on, the skies, the rain, or the seasons can vary. But, generally this is not the case, and in fact this does not change the description of the course.

It is very difficult to specify with certainty the incline of the slopes, whatever the system you use.

For “real slopes”, reread the mileage manual on the home page.

Section 1: In the orchards and countryside of Isère.

 

General overview of the difficulties of the route: flat, without any difficulty.

If you spent the night in Romans-sur-Isère, you will have to return to Mours-St-Eusèbe to continue the route. GR path leaves the borough at the roundabout on the road that goes down to Romans,
It heads due west, towards Les Balmes.
It quickly leaves the suburbs. Here, you can walk on the side of a secondary road, with little traffic, especially in the early morning.
The road runs along the fruit trees of the plain. Here the apricot tree is the king. You will see thousands of them on the way. Throughout the region, in season, stalls are arranged along the roads for the sale of fruit, apricots in particular.
At a roundabout, Via Adresca leaves the axis for a small road that heads to Les Balmes. Here, you again cross the Savasse River, which empties a little down into the Isère River. It now carries less pebbles, but here the water is present. It is still a little difficult to imagine that this river can become a real fury.
A smaller road then crosses the fields. Here, the fruit trees are still inconspicuous and small groves are present from time to time, descending from the nearby hills.
Further afield, the road approaches Les Balmes. The road crosses a potentially flood-prone area. Undoubtedly, the Savasse River sometimes overflows here. Pay attention to the signage though. Many hiking trails pass through the country. Always follow the scallops, even if this road seems a false track, which is not the case for you. You must realize that the Via Adresca is not indicated by the marks of a true GR. It is a pseudo-GR, created by the Friends of the Santiago Track in Burgundy Rhône-Alpes, even if, a little further, it is common with the GR420 on small sections, with GR signage.
Here, the stud farms flourish on the ocher ground.
On the road, a Jacobean welcome (Accueil jacquaire). The country is flat, completely flat, and fields and fruit trees follow one another in the distance in the Isère plain, on the outskirts of Romans-sur-Isère, with the Vercors as a backdrop.
Further on, the road runs through the village of Les Balmes. Etymologically, a balme designates a rock shelter or a cave. You can find accommodation or food here.
On trouve à se loger ou à se restaurer ici.
In the church, of fairly recent construction, there is no longer any worship, but for many years, at Christmas, the locals have created a giant nativity scene, which attracts crowds of visitors.
On leaving the village, the road continues in the countryside, with here and there a clump of trees, mainly oaks.

Section 2: In the countryside and the modern housing estates of Isère.

 

General overview of the difficulties of the route: flat, without any difficulty.

Here, stud farms and market gardeners mainly occupy the space…
…before finding fruit trees when the road joins the departmental D574 road.
Here, you have to walk along the departmental road to the hamlet of Condillac, but the traffic is far from exuberant.
A little further on, at a fork, Via Adresca leaves the departmental road for the Chemin des Collines.
Small modern housing estates are lined up along the road. Dogs are barking here. It is always quite surprising to note that when an owner takes a dog to guard his property, the others around do the same. Everyone wants to have a larger, fiercer dog than their neighbor’s. So, these animals, who don’t know how to do much other than bark, begin an uninterrupted concert. Mail carriers will tell you that all dogs bark, even if they’ve been around them for years. Fortunately, most of the time, these brave doggies are behind the gates. Fortunately, we would say, to see the fangs of some of them.
The road then heads towards a small undergrowth.

This is where the Chalon brook flows. Finally, “flow” is perhaps not the right word these days. The stream is dry, like the Savasse River. The pebbles of the river were cemented to allow vehicles to circulate. But, in bad weather, the passage is probably no longer allowed, even tricky, here.

Further ahead, the road heads to the modern Les Sables subdivision. Here, you may hear the canine symphony, all over the place.
Then, you’ll find the orchards again, when the Chemin des Collines crosses the D114 departmental road.

The latter joins just next door, the Rue du Tram, the large departmental road which goes to Romans-sur-Isère. Rue du Tram, nostalgia, what, for a means of transport that has long since packed its bags here, like everywhere else in the country. Here, a small road then crosses the industrial zone of Bouviers, which is only waiting for new customers to develop, probably rare to declare themselves to see the vacant space.

 

Further ahead, the rooad leaves between vineyards and apricot trees.

Section 3: In corn, wheat and vines.

 

General overview of the difficulties of the route: flat, without any difficulty.

Further afield, thunder rumbles. Because if the tram has disappeared from here, the TGV has not. It is the line of the LGV Rhône-Alpes (LN4) which transits here. This line, you have already encountered it further in the stages, near Revel-Tourdan. It extends the LGV Sud-Est line (LN1), bypassing Lyon and reaches Valence, where it continues via the LGV Méditerranée (LN5), to Marseille and Nîmes.

As soon as the railway is over, the road runs along the market gardens. You can also see the first vines there.
The cellars are already announced and the road turns towards Herbasse.
Herbasse, what a nice river, gentle and quiet. But when it gets angry, it too, like all the rivers in the region, causes small tsunamis. In 2008 and 2013, following violent and exceptional storms, all the rivers in the area took on the dimensions of the Rhône River and caused great damage. It must be understood that on a plain, the water has hardly the possibility of flowing, and that the Rhône River further away or the Isère River are already quite full chamber pots.

In l’Herbasse, it is a major crossroads.
Via Adresca remains for a while on the large departmental road D532 which connects Romans-sur-Isère to Tain l’Ermitage to the north, then leaves the latter for the D153 road which descends towards Pont-sur l’Isère to the south.
Here you’ll enter the first vines of the large wine estate of the Crozes-Ermitage appellation. There are not only vines and there are also market gardeners. A large bandwidth allows you to walk along the road, but it may be said, a road is still not a bucolic track.
When walking in these wide-open spaces, you tend to pay less attention to signage. Here, near a large field of sunflowers, which is extremely rare in the region, Via Adresca leaves the axis for the Chemin de la Traverse which goes towards Les Blaches.
Further afield, the small road runs along the vineyard of Cros de Mourier on one side, on the other large fields of wheat.
In the region, the houses of the winegrowers are often grouped together in small housing estates and the space is free for crops.
The country road joins the small departmental D67 road a little further on.
A little moment on the small departmental road, which should be more a route for the farmers and winegrowers of the region than for tourists …
…before finding the Veaune stream,
Here, Via Adresca leaves the departmental road and then sets off again on the Chemin de Compostelle, between fields and small vineyards, towards the farms of Colombier. Here, it’s always tarmac, the tractors get stuck less.
It then crosses a region where the crops of cereals and corn take over the vines.
Throughout this region of intensive cultivation, there are no villages, but isolated houses or farms, in a landscape streaked with high-voltage lines.

Section 4: In the middle of market gardeners, fruit trees and vines.

 

General overview of the difficulties of the route: flat, without any difficulty.

At a crossroads, Via Adresca crosses the entire region called Grands Champs, where corn and wheat compete for their place with the vines.
The roads here are almost straight, unsurprisingly.
At the end of the Chemin de Compostelle, the road turns at an acute angle onto the Route des Vignes. At this time of year, we are in summer, the tractors are no longer out. Not a living soul in the vineyards, in the fields or in front of the few houses.
When you take a look at the vineyard, you see that the soil is limestone, with many pebbles carried by the glaciers. This is in stark contrast to the Côte Rôtie region, a stone’s throw away, where the vines are planted in granite soil, resulting in superior, more structured wines. Finally, a matter of taste, but above all of your wallet!
Then, another sharp angle and you set off again on the Chemin de Gabelou.
It is always the corn and the vines that you encounter first, but the vineyard is not yet compact, as it will be further on. There are also some apple trees here.
Shortly after, Via Adresca turns again at a right angle on the Route du Syrah, a predestined term here, this grape variety representing the very essence of Hermitage and Crozes-Ermitage.
The road leads to the few houses of Combe Tourtes and then it goes off again at right angles to the Route des Chênes.
The oaks, there are still a few specimens here, to provide some shade in a landscape, shall we say, often arid, conducive to the cultivation of vines.
Further on, you’ll get at a place called Chasselière, at the actual entrance to the Crozes-Ermitage estate.
Here, Via Adresca takes the Chemin des Bosquets.

Here, the vineyard begins to seriously expand in the large limestone pebbles. The basic geometry of the vines is trellising, the technique of guiding the vine by binding it by its branches to iron wires. At the end of the row, there is a mooring line that keeps the whole thing in place.

On the Chemin des Bosquets, there are still apricot trees planted in the middle of the vineyard.

Crozes-Hermitage, or Crozes-Ermitage, an AOC appellation, is produced in 11 communes in the Drôme. These vineyards are part of the Côtes-du-Rhône Nord vineyards, and extend from before Tain-L’Hermitage to Glun, north of Valence. The famous Hermitage appellation is restricted to a small steep area of Tain-L’Hermitage. On the other side of the Rhône, from north to south, descend from the vertiginous hills the vineyards of Condrieu, Côtes Rôties, St Joseph, as far as Tournon, opposite Tain-L’Hermitage, on the other side of the Rhone. Tomorrow, you will also go to the other side of the Rhône, south of the Côte-du-Rhône Nord appellations, to Cornas and St Péray.

In the appellation, the authorized grape varieties are Syrah, Marsanne and Roussanne for red wines, Marsanne and Roussanne for white wines. As with the great Hermitage and the Côtes Rôties, the two white grape varieties are sometimes used, in low doses, to stabilize the red wines. But, Syrah remains the king grape variety. It is probably no insult to the owners of the vines you are crossing today, to say that the best Crozes-Ermitage are produced in the north. There are two reasons for this. The first is that in the north, the soil is often quite granitic, which is better suited to Syrah, and the vineyards are sloping, which is almost always a bonus for the vines. This does not mean that here you can also find some little wonders.

Here, the vines are terraces of rolled pebbles mixed with loess. You are now familiar with these geological structures that you have surveyed for days. The silt is the product of the erosion of the rocks of the watershed of the rivers, propagated by the wind or the water. They are thus debris, consolidated or not of quartz, mica, feldspar, coming from granitic rocks or carbonates and clays, if the original rocks are limestone or sedimentary. And all these elements add up to give loess, which is therefore a loamy, homogeneous loose “rock”, yellowish to brownish in color due to the large presence of limestone. The composition of typical loess is 10% fine sand, 75% coarse silt and 15% clay. To this are added, of course, a mass of rolled pebbles from Chambaran and Bièvre.

Section 5: From the Crozes-Ermitage estate to the Rhône River.

 

General overview of the difficulties of the route: flat, without any difficulty.

Further on, the Chemin des Bosquets leads to the small departmental road 101 which crosses the vineyard.
Shortly after, Via Adresca follows the road a little to the north, before forking for the first and last time of the day on a dirt road. Pebbles, of course, there are still some here, but winegrowers and farmers have no doubt conscientiously removed stones from the area to remove the Chambaran pebbles.
Admittedly, the vines still dominate the area, but there are also fruit trees, especially apricot trees, and a few apple, pear or cherry trees. It was here that the via Magna of the Romans of Agrippa passed, who had chosen Lyon as their seat, around twenty years before our era.
The pathway soon passes to a place called Les Hautes Blaches. The word blache refers to land reclaimed from a wood or a copse of oaks.
And oaks, farmers have kept a few, because the stony pathway leads to the tar at a place called the Chêne Vert (Holm Oak).
Here, Via Adresca joins the D529 road, the Route des Chênes Verts, which heads towards Glun. You are still walking through the vineyards, gradually approaching the Rhone Valley. In front of you stand the mountains of the Ardèche, where you will go tomorrow.
Shortly after, the thuds and haunting noises of the engines suddenly grow louder. As usual, a highway points its nose. Here is the A7, the Autoroute du Soleil, strangely depopulated today. Yet, we are in summer, yes, but on weekdays. Here, you are very close to Pont-de l’Isère.
The secondary road continues its course towards two water towers.
There, it crosses the national road 7 (N7), the main road that starts from the Porte d’Italie in Paris and goes to Menton, on the Mediterranean Sea. As the highway is fluid today, the N7 is too. But when the A7 is congested, so is the N7 road.
The D529 road, which in the meantime has taken the name of Rue des Alpes, then returns to the vineyards, but the houses are more and more present. Glun is the southernmost place in the Crozes-Ermitage appellation.
Further ahead, Via Adresca heads to the Rhône River near the railway line.

D529 road briefly runs along the railway line that goes from Lyon to Valence, then crosses the track, before heading towards the Rhône River. No trains are running on the right bank of the Rhône anymore, and there is therefore only one disused station at La Roche-sur Glun for travellers. Which country! And to think that the railway workers are on strike, believing that travelers who take the train, there are only in Paris and in a few large cities. Do not take this kind of talk as a general attack by foreigners against France. There is reason for that. France is a beautiful country for hikers. But put yourself in the shoes of hikers who take a few steps on the way and wonder how they will get back… other than on foot.

Further on, the road crosses the railway track, before heading towards the Rhône River.

Here, the Rhône River plays with the Isère River in several ways. Shortly before La Roche-sur-Glun, the Rhône River divides into two, the old Rhône and the Canal du Rhône. You have already seen this type of organization higher up on the Via Gebennensis, where the Old Rhône and the Rhône canals were diverted for the use of hydroelectric works. The two arms meet further down in the region of Pont-sur l’Isère, when the Isère River joins the Rhône River.

So here, the route first crosses the Canal du Rhône, which is very wide, much wider than the Rhône River actually is. To the north, you can see the vineyards on the hillsides of the right bank. To the south, the slope is gentler, along the cycle paths that follow the canal.
Since the construction of the dam on the Rhône River, La Roche-de-Glun has been surrounded by the river and the canal. It has almost become an island. The road then enters La Roche-sur-Glun but, in fact, Via Adresca only touches the center of the town. The region is not, to tell the truth, touristic. From then on, the accommodation is reduced to Roche-de-Glun and then to Glun, on the other side of the lake.
Roche-de-Glun is a small town of 3,200 inhabitants. You enter through the crenellated gate of Roussillon, a gate dating back to the XIIth century.
The Tower of Diane de Poitiers dates from the same period. This lady, originally from the region, probably passed here. The tower is a historical monument, recently restored, and which houses the municipal library. Another small square tower stands near the river.

The sculptor Gaston Dindrat lived here in the last century.

In Roche-de-Glun, you are in the department of Drôme. On the other side of the body of water is Glun, in Ardèche.

Lodging