Slow down and spend a week soaking up southern France
COME FOR THE CULTURE, FOOD MARKETS, FRIENDLY PEOPLE AND COLD ROSÉ WINE
When most people think of the south of France, they conjure the French Riveria or the Côte d’Azur’s dazzling blue waters and strolling promenades in glitzy towns like Cannes and Saint Tropez. But move a little further west from Nice and Marseilles to explore the less touristed region of Languedoc-Roussillon. Stretching along the French coast from Montpelier all the way to the border of Spain. Here life exists like it is supposed to, not to the tune of tourists or catering to travelers. Come experience a lovely slow week in Languedoc.
Pick a little village without a well-known name and book a gîte or villa for the week. We were lucky to tag along with friends from Copenhagen to a beautiful spot right outside Saint-André-de-Sagonis and it was perfect. Set in a vineyard five minutes from the unpretentious and not-at-all fancy village, we spent a week soaking up the sun, slurping fresh oysters and sampling the local rosé. The region is known for its wine and we were amazed by the selection.
RENT A GîTE OR VILLA FOR YOUR VACATION
I cannot claim the credit for finding this beautiful gem as it was my good friend’s secret spot and she invited us along with last summer. It was self-catering and all sorts of cozy with a pool on the property where we cooled off every day and a huge outdoor cooking grill and patio where we ate every night.
WANDER THROUGH VILLAGE LANES AND DON’T MISS THE LOCAL MARKETS
We loved the slow, lazy feel of Saint-André-de-Sagonis in summer. Even the patina of imperfection on the buildings felt charming and authentic. Don’t miss the market on Saturdays. Here we found fresh local oysters and vegetables for dinner. But the real joy was sitting at the center café with everyone babbling in French all around you. Take a coffee to enjoy with your fresh pastries, recently procured from the boulangerie down the street and sit and soak up the scene.
DON’T MISS MARKET DAY IN CLERMONT L’HÉRAULT
Only fifteen minutes from our villa was the lovely village of Clermont l’Hérault. Every Wednesday you’ll find a massive market selling all sorts of fresh local vegetables, crafts, goods, flowers, spices and delicious food. I love meandering a market. It give such a good sense of what people eat, how they cook and what a place tastes and smells like. Browse the spice sellers stand for unique flavors and souvenirs to sample back home. A delicious reminder of your travels. I procured some fancy peppercorns, herbs de Provence, a Moroccan spice mix (that I’m almost finished with sadly) and some French mulling spices.
We bought some local saucisson to sample back at the gîte, those gorgeous heirloom tomatoes that taste just like summer and are delicious simply sliced with a bit of sea salt and a splash of olive oil. The sweet onions were amazing on the grill. With dinner provisions tucked safely away in my new French market basket, we found a café for lunch complete with cold rosé of course.
WHAT TO EXPLORE IN THE REGION
Lots of day trips are doable from this region – from swimming in mountain lakes to touring local vineyards. Montpelier is a center of culture and cool with great squares full of cafes. We explored the nearby Camargue region and saw flamingos and other flocks of fowl at the Parc Ornithologique du Pont de Gau. Don’t miss quirky and mystical Saint Maries-de-la-Mer and the medieval walled city of Aigues-Mortes. Or wonder at the well-preserved ancient Roman architecture in Nîmes and Pont-du-Gard. I wished we’d had time to go hiking in the gorgeous (sorry – had to) Gorges du Tarn, but we’ll save that for next time.
- Explore the Camargue to find flamingos
- Saintes-Maries-de-la-Mer & Aigues-Mortes
- Roman Nîmes
- Pont du Gard Roman aqueduct
- Gorges du Tarn
- Grands Causses Natural Regional Park
- Castle city of Carcassone
HOW TO GET TO LANGUEDOC
It is easiest to fly into Montpellier–Méditerranée Airport, but you may find affordable fares to Nice Côte D’Azur Aiport or Toulouse-Blagnac Airport nearby in the region.
By train from Paris Gare de Lyon, the TGV high-speed trains can zip down to Avignon, Nimes, Montpellier or Marseilles.
Or drive the A75 south through gorgeous (literally) natural parks and stunning rocky cliffs.
ENJOY THE SLOW LIFE IN LANGUEDOC
With less tourism infrastructure in the region, Languedoc leaves space to take your time. We loved swimming at the pool to cool off after the heat mid-July. Cooking outside on the open air grill to the tune of cicadas chirping in the trees. Challenge your friends to a rematch of Boules. It’s a beautiful place to unwind for a week.
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