The heart of Languedoc-Roussillon, to Pézenas

It was a heavy night at Didier and Robert’s annual local wine festival in Uzès. A rather annoying Australian woman latched on to Simon, recognising the only Englishman in the room by his smart tweed jacket. We spent what seemed like two hours hearing about her five week “vacation” in “only the most expensive” Gîtes across the south of France.

Having prised ourselves away from the boastful Aussie and her equally vacuous husband (who didn’t ask a word about our 3 month trip) we did eventually get to mingle a little with the charming French. I say charming – by this time we’d devoured two bottles of Didier’s favourite nectar, so that’s our memory.

The next day – and well into the afternoon – we headed south and west into strong winds, down through Nîmes and Montpellier and around the Bassin de Thau, passing acres of moules and oyster farms. The perfect hangover cure as we would discover.

As Bertha clocked up 3000 trip miles we sourced a suitably celebratory seafood dinner for that night. Whilst the French lunched we arrived at mesmeric Pézenas, another beautiful medieval stone-built town gentrified in the 17th and 18th century with private mansions.

Place Gambetta, Pézenas

The elegant town square still boasts the intact home of medieval barber Gely a friend to Moliere who lived and worked in Pézenas as the official royal playwright.

The stone masonry of the Gothic arches and stairways of the Hotel de Lacoste allowed a glimpse into a private mansion at the time of Moliere, set around a central open courtyard, in which heavy wooden doors set into stone arches guarded the privacy of the living areas.

Hotel des Barons de Lacoste

Inside the impressive Gothic cathedral the town’s choir was rehearsing for a performance that evening.

The sound of their soaring voices singing a beautiful Latin mass was thrilling and although all ages, shapes and sizes their harmonies to our untrained ears were pitch perfect, which was just as well as their conductor  seemed very exacting.

Back at the central car park a boules tournament had been set up and more than thirty games were underway on the dusty ground with players young and old. Some nimble manoeuvring of Bertha was needed.

Preparing moules in the sunshine

We gambled on an overnight stop at a German owned vineyard and once through the maze of narrow and rutted lanes were rewarded with a spectacular view across to the foothills of the Pyrenees.

Having spent just two euros on a kilo of fresh moules from the roadside sellers lining the Bassin de Thau near Sete, it was a thoroughly enjoyable evening!

Sunset over the vineyards towards the Pyrenees