Clansayes is a commune in the Drôme department, in the Auvergne-Rhône-Alpes region, 25 km south-east of Montélimar.
Its territory of 14 km² ranges from 87 to 348 m in altitude, on the left bank of the Rhône, to the north-east of Saint-Paul-Trois-Châteaux which it borders. It has a unique character, composed of red and ocher sandstone hills, covered however by forests (40% of its area) and agricultural areas (50%). Lavender and vines are cultivated there (production of wines with the "coteaux du Tricastin" appellation) and sheep are raised there.
Already occupied during prehistoric times (remains from the Neolithic era and rock carvings have been unearthed), the village, which was crossed by a Roman road in Antiquity (a few traces remain), developed in the Middle Ages. Fortified, at the top of a rocky outcrop, it was first the seat of a stronghold dependent on the bishops of Saint-Paul-Trois-Châteaux which was attached in the 13th century to the barony of Grignan.
An earthquake caused significant damage in 1772: all that remained of the medieval village fortifications was its keep... Templar of the order of Saint John of Jerusalem, of which a chapel bears witness.
Nowadays, the picturesque village and its heritage, its hilly and green environment dotted with viewpoints over the Rhône valley are the charm of Clansayes (530 inhabitants). A detour is required!
A discovery of the village which has developed in the manner of an amphitheater at the top of a rocky and steep hillside makes it possible to observe some vestiges of the 14th century enclosure which survived the earthquake of 1772. However, it is obviously the 15 m high keep, built on a ridge in the 12th century, which remains the most spectacular element of the old medieval fortress. It is in the form of a square tower but the buttresses which lean against its faces and which are surmounted by battlements give the walkway an octagonal shape.
From the terrace in front of the tower, the visitor enjoys a view that encompasses Saint-Paul-Trois-Châteaux, the Vivarais mountains and the Rhône valley. An orientation table has been set up for orientation.
Transformed for a time into a prison in the 17th century, the keep is topped with a statue of the Virgin sculpted in the Abbey of Aiguebelle and which the villagers brought back and installed in 1858.
Nearby, on a small square, the Romanesque church of Saint-Michel has also been preserved. Its single nave and cul-de-four apse date from the 11th century, but side chapels in the Gothic style were added in the 13th century. Like the dungeon, it is listed in the Inventory.
In terms of heritage, but this time on the neighboring hill, to see again, the Notre-Dame de Toronne chapel. It is reached by a botanical path which also houses a Stations of the Cross. Testimony of a commandery of the Templars, it dates from the 13th century and had for a long time the rank of parish church. Note its thick walls (up to more than a meter) and its almost coarse materials (uncut stones). Romanesque in style, its nave and its apse surmounted by an arched steeple are lit by windows reminiscent of loopholes.
Finally, in the town, the 19th century Romanin castle is a more recent piece of heritage, even if old and characterful dwellings line the perched village and the hamlets of the town.
Guided tours of the village and the hill of Toronne are offered in season: inquire on +33 4 75 04 07 98.
The hills, the perched village, the landscape traces of the 18th century earthquake or even the crops (lavender, vines) can also be approached via marked hiking trails for this purpose.
In the town, the path of "Toronne La Templière" (5.5 km) dedicated to the heritage of the locality and that of the "Plaines de l'Estoc" (2.5 km) which is devoted above all to to Provençal crops (lavender, thyme, vines) and areas of scrubland. In both cases, splendid panoramas punctuate the routes. Also note that Clansayes is on the route of the "Chemin des Arts en Tricastin" and that from the town, larger loops are possible. They include, for example, Saint-Paul-Trois-Châteaux or join the Rhône to join the ViaRhôna, an 815 km secure cycle route that links Lake Geneva to the Mediterranean Sea along the river. Maps and information for hiking and mountain biking on +33 4 75 04 07 98.
Clansayes has been home to the Drôme Provençale golf course since 1990. To the north of the territory, covering about twenty hectares planted with pines, olive trees, cypresses, it includes a 9-hole course (for a "par" 35) 2500 m long. A putting green and a practice area are also available to golfers who appreciate the setting as much as the course itself, designed for experienced players and neophytes alike. A restaurant, lodges and a swimming pool are located on the site. Open all year. Visitor rate: from 32 to 49 euros depending on the season. Information on +33 4 75 98 57 03.