The Other South Of France
Europe Guide Trips & Tips

The Other South Of France

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Gérard Bertrand is committed to sharing the characteristics and exceptional diversity of each of the terroirs of this region which produces sparkling wines, reds, whites, rosés, varietal wines or appellation wines.

Gérard Bertrand
Not long after landing in the Languedoc capital of Montpellier I was asked, “Do you want to go to the beach?” Being a New Englander, I love nothing more than hot sand and cold water so I said, “Sure!”.

I arrived to the VIP area of the Les Cabines beach club and was immediately handed a glass of Code Rouge local sparkling wine. Not long after a woman in a bikini was sprayed with a bottle of bubbly in the hot tub. With a mix of exhaustion and jet lag I though what the hell was going on here. But then I realized I was not in Nice or Marseilles this was a different South of France.

A glass of Gerard Bertrand's Code Rouge
A glass of Gérard Bertrand’s Code Rouge

 

The Languedoc region, renamed Occitanie, is a more relaxed, less-touristy and less-expensive part of the Mediterranean. The French experience here is more authentic with only a few McDonalds in sight. The people are friendly, humble farmers and wine makers always down for a “tchin tchin”.

 

Where To Drink:

This is definitely the most important thing to know about the Southwest of France. The Languedoc region produces more wine than any other part of the country. This means there are TONS and TONS of incredible vineyards to visit.

Wine tasting at Chateau L'Hospitalet
Wine tasting at Chateau L’Hospitalet

 

The attractions are fairly spread out so you’ll want to rent a car for some vineyard hopping (spitting out your wine of course). Owned by rebel winemaker and Vincent Cassel doppelgänger, Gérard Bertrand, there are several different biodynamic vineyards to explore. Domaine de Cigalus, the home of Bertrand has a stunning French villa and a large tasting room. Chateau La Sauvageonne has some incredible views from the Chateau, including an infinity pool overlooking the vineyards. For a beachside spot head to Le Mamamouchi and grab a bottle of rose or a cocktail before you go paddleboarding or windsurfing in the Mediterranean.

The view from the new tasting room at La Soujeole
The view from the new tasting room at La Soujeole

 

Where to Stay:

Live out your French fantasies at one of the many chateaus in the region or stay at a vineyard. The Chateau L’Hospitalet is a modern, comfortable 38-room hotel located in the middle of the biodynamic vineyard. It has a stunning rock tasting cellar and an organic restaurant called L’Art de Vivre on its way to a Michelin star. On the Canal du Midi is a stunningly authentic chateau renovated by an American couple. La Tour du Chateau has 5 rooms with classic French touches and stunning views of the valley.

 

La Tour Du Chateau
La Tour Du Chateau
The view from my room at La Tour Du Chateau
The view from my room at La Tour Du Chateau
Chateau L'Hospitalet
Chateau L’Hospitalet

 

Where To Eat

La Cambuse du Saunier was the most entertaining and endearing restaurant experience in recent memory. Sitting on a champagne pink salt marsh (make sure to get your Instagram picture), they serve mussels, oysters and fish encrusted in the salt they harvest. On weekends they have a live band where most of the locals and the few foreigners end up dancing on tables and singing along.

Oysters from
Oysters from Tarbouriech

 

Another restaurant with water views is an unassuming oyster bar called Tarbouriech with a “pull out” method that reflects the changing tides of the Atlantic. By pulling the oysters out of the sun for 10-12 hours a day they are bigger and more full. Don’t leave the region without trying the famous cassoulet stew at any local restaurant.

The famous dish, Cassoulet
The famous dish, Cassoulet

 

What To Do

Aside from the obligatory wine tastings and tours there is more to do in the region than I expected. In the peak of summer the beaches are the best place to escape the sweltering heat. Visit Argèles North or Vias for a refreshing dip in the salt water.

The region is also home to the world’s largest manmade canal known as the Canal Du Midi. Rent a barge boat (yes, you can drive yourself) and cruise along the river for a few days at a very leisurely pace.

Cruising on the Canal Du Midi
Cruising on the Canal Du Midi

 

Besides their wine, the region produces some really tasty olives known as Lucques. Take a tour of L’oublio and learn about the planting and harvesting process. But more importantly, do an olive oil taste test and buy some of the buttery crescent shapes olives.

Probably the most underrated region in France, Languedoc is a relaxing European getaway. Have you ever been to the region? Leave me all your best tips and recommendations!

 

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