24 km from Montélimar via the D540 road.
On a craggy hill in the Jabron valley, overlooking wooded foothills, stands one of the most beautiful villages in France, Le Poët-Laval.
The little road climbing up to it is very steep, and ends with a car park in a field. You must park here, because vehicles are prohibited in the village.
Surrounded by imposing grey defensive walls that seem indestructible, this fortified village impresses the visitor even from a distance. When you enter it you will be delighted to see that here there are only certified authentic old buildings, in perfect harmony and taste, where a film could be shot describing life in medieval times without having to change a thing.
First surprise: the gigantic remains of the former 12th century keep, with stretches of yellow stone wall broken only by a few windows.
It was in the 12th century that the order of the Hospitaliers de Saint-Jean de Jérusalem (later to become the Order of Malta) decided to establish a commandery on the hill of Poët-Laval and built a castle and keep at the top of the village.
During the crusade era it was used as a staging post and refuge for pilgrims setting off for the Holy Land. It was extended in the 13th and 15th centuries and then sacked when the Revolution occurred.
But its keep with a simple sloping roof has remained virtually intact.
Second surprise: the entire village has remained as it was in medieval times; no cars of course or urban furniture, and not even any roads, just paths and stairways with uneven cobblestones, usually on a steep slope.
The covered “Rue de la Chalanque”, the lower street along the battlements and “Rue de la Tournelle” will give you plenty of opportunities to become lost in time and space in the maze of streets, alleyways, covered passageways, stairways, terraces, walls and Roman remains … with the occasional patch of grass, rose bushes and proud cypress trees thrown in.
A bit of advice: stroll along "Rue Neuve", from where you will have a striking view of the chapel of Saint Jean des Commandeurs, a 12th century historical monument.
Here there are no shops, apart from a library and tea room at the bottom of the village in an authentic medieval house.
The village was a Protestant stronghold for a long time, and a few years ago a Museum of Dauphinois Protestantism was opened, in a former private mansion dating back to the 14th century.
Here you can discover all the history of Protestantism in the Dauphiné region, from the Reformation to the religious wars, from the Edict of Nantes to the role of Protestants in the Resistance.
The "Raymond du Puy" International Art and Activities Centre was built entirely from materials found and recovered in the village.
It opened in the summer of 1995 and every year hosts concerts and a major summer exhibition.
Nearby why not take a seat on one of the three benches turned towards the valley to contemplate a scene made up of windows opening onto emptiness, truncated columns placed here and there, enormous terracotta jars where rose bushes, cypresses and bay trees grow...
A surprising vista, rather surreal … taking you back into the distant past. A magical moment of intense serenity !
What to see
Medieval ensemble : Restored Réjaubert castle (12th century and chapel with defensive walls.
The keep, chapel and ramparts are today listed as Historical Monuments.
The finest commandery in Provence.
Romanesque 14th century church.).
19th century Protestant church.
Museum of Dauphinois Protestantism.
Ancient remains (Roman and Phoenician pottery).
Maison de la Terre.
"Raymond du Puy" International Art and Activities Centre (concerts, exhibitions).
Hiking, horse-riding and mountain biking (many waymarked paths)..
Pony trekking (equestrian farm).