Lose your stress, enjoy lazy days reading and basking in the sunshine of South France. Visit the local boulangerie. Sip a cafe au lait avec un morceau du pain raisin. Alternatively, explore further afield. Have an adventure!
Wherever you go in Languedoc you are never far from the vineyards. Leaving Montpellier on the auto route hugging the coast to the Spanish border, you are buoyed on a sea of vines. Wines and olives are the main crops in this part of France. Forty per cent of France’s wines come from here. Year round temperatures here are the highest in France and rainfall is scant. Excellent reds can be found in Corbieres and l’Herault. White wines are made from the Picpoulet grape in Pinet, a mere 10 km from the house.
There are many books on the Languedoc region. We have some at the house for our guests. A note to remember, the French take lunch from 12:00 to 14:00. Most shops are closed on Sundays and Mondays. Enjoy these areas of this colorful and historic region:
Pezenas (3 kms north)
Carcassone (90 kms)
The region of Languedoc stretches from the Spanish border at Collioure, north of Andorra to Toulouse, over to the Rhone river, south of Lyon to Avignon, to the Mediterranean. The colours of the landscape are hot red fields, vivid violets, green vineyards and the deep blue Mediterranean sea. This is the largest wine producing area in all of France with a character all it’s own.
This region is unlike any other in France and is probably one of the least known. It does not cater to someone who craves the glamour and exorbitant prices of the riveria. The older locals have a strong accent and take pride in their knowledge of old Langue d’oc, hence the name Languedoc.
The Pezenas Saturday market is in the wide main street that bisects the town. Fabulous peanuts, olives, cheeses, and wildly colourful flowers enrich the 15th century houses that line the Rue. A short stroll takes you back over hundreds of years. In 1655/56, Moliere and his theatre company played several times in a theatre hidden at the top of the old village . It seems that time has stood still for 300 years. The old quarter is exactly as it was when the Prince de Conti made it the Versailles du Languedoc.
A leisurely ride down the back roads will put you in a modern community that is the delight of teenagers and parents alike. It is a thriving entertainment centre with boat trips, swimming, diving, water skiing, tennis, cycling. Spend the night in one of the many disco’s and night clubs. To the east is a 10 km sandy beach on the way to Sete.
Carcassone (90 kms)
This medieval town is a day trip that is a must for all visitors. Carcassone is the best example of the middle ages in the region and is one of the few completely restored walled cities in Europe. Charlemagne (768-814) put this city under siege and was unable to capture it. A local legend about the siege is that the Moorish chieftain’s wife had straw dummies placed on the battlements, dressed in the armour of dead soldiers. Charlemagne decided to starve the inhabitants into submission because of the obvious strength of soldiers. As the towns’ people ran out of food they decided upon a ploy to fool the invaders. They stuffed a sow with the last of the rice and threw it over the walls, making the besieging army think they had plenty of food to last the winter. Charlemagne’s army left and the city was saved.