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A while back we introduced you to Languedoc France, a region in the South of France that’s also the country’s largest in terms of wine production. However, when most people travel to France, Languedoc is not the first wine region that comes to mind. Fortunately, we’ve had the opportunity to explore the area and can confirm that it’s a destination for every #Winetraveler.
In this sun-drenched vibrant region you’ll find rolling hills, snow-capped mountains, turquoise blue Mediterranean waters and classic French villages with stone walls and tiled rooftops. It’s a picturesque landscape any time of year.
Languedoc also offers travelers a variety of vacation styles. Whether you’re looking to have a wine-centric trip, explore nature, discover history or spend some time at the beach, this region can meld to any preference.
While the beaches are best visited in the hot summer months, it’s also when the region is most crowded. If you’re more interested in wines, hiking, exploring villages and medieval castles, we recommend visiting during off-peak times to avoid the crowds.
As for the wines you’ll be tasting, you will find everything from Sparkling and Dessert Wines, to Whites, Rosés and Reds. In fact, more Rosé is produced in Languedoc than in nearby Provence. For those that are history buffs, Languedoc is also the birthplace of Sparkling Wine (and you can visit the monastery where it was first created in the 1500s).
On Winetraveler, you’ll find two Languedoc itineraries, with this travel guide being the first. Each could take between three days to a full week, or they can be combined for a more extensive adventure. So, depending on the amount of time you’ll be spending in the region, we’ve got options to get you started.
How to Get to Languedoc
The Languedoc is situated along the Mediterranean coast running from Spain in the South to Nimes in the North. From the States, the easiest way to get to Languedoc is via flight. Most international airports offer numerous flights to Paris daily and from there, it’s a quick flight to Montpellier, France.
Montpellier is at the Northern end of the wine route and makes for an easy in-and-out from its regional airport. It’s also where we recommend flying to and from for this particular itinerary.
Or, if you prefer train travel within France, the trip is just over three hours via high-speed rail from Paris. Once in the region, you’ll want to hire a driver for excursions to wine country or rent a car for the week.
Days One to Three
Where to Stay
Montpellier is a university town. In fact, it has one of the world’s oldest universities — the University of Montpellier. That being the case, there are plenty of hotel and Airbnb options. If you’re planning to travel in the popular summer beach months, book well in advance. However, if traveling in the off-season, it won’t be too difficult to find a nice accommodation at a wide range of prices. For this itinerary, we recommend one to three nights in Montpellier. Certainly, it’s the place to stay the night you arrive and then perhaps an additional night if you’re so inclined.
Ready to dive into Languedoc wine? You’ll have plenty to choose from at this local spot that centers on wines of the region as well as the local dishes to pair with them. They also offer live music, patio dining and a market for takeaway. The wine team can expertly guide you in a selection representative of the region or that pairs best with your selected meal. Make sure to order the cheese board to experience the tête de moine (and ask how it’s sliced!).
Winetraveler Tip: The Courtyard by Marriott is within walking distance of Trinquefougasse O’Sud and is an easy 10-minute drive from the airport.
A 10-minute walk from Place de la Comédie and near the Saint-Pierre Cathédrale, this charming spot offers seasonal French cuisine from both its restaurant and more casual bistro with a glass-enclosed garden. It’s a quaint spot with beautiful food reflective of the local growers. Note, it’s closed on Mondays and reservations are recommended for the restaurant.
While not in Montpellier, this restaurant makes an ideal lunch stop while exploring the recommended Languedoc wineries below. Part wine bar and wine shop, restaurant La Terrasse sits in the village square of Montpeyroux. You’ll find a wide selection of local wines as well as those from other regions, and the local seasonal food is prepared exquisitely. Depending on the season, both indoor and outdoor seating is available. Note that the restaurant closes for December and January, with the wine bar remaining open Thursday, Friday and Saturday evenings.
Wineries to Visit from Montpellier in the Languedoc
AOP Languedoc makes up around 40,000 hectares with 36 AOPs, and over 2,000 producers, 80 co-ops and 450 private winemakers. Below is a mere sampling of the wineries to be found throughout the region.
In the AOP Languedoc and AOP Sommières at the foothills of the Cevennes mountains, you’ll find the 14-hectare vineyards of Mas des Cabres. Cultivated organically by owner, viticulturist and winemaker Florent Boutin, the vineyards sit at 100 meters in elevation with plantings of Syrah, Grenache, Carignan, Roussanne, Viognier and Vermentino.
The winery is open by appointment, or from April to September: Monday to Saturday – 11AM to 1PM and 5PM to 8PM; and Saturdays from October through March: 11AM to 1PM and 5PM to 7PM
Also in the Cevennes region, in the AOP Montpeyroux and AOP Terrasses du Larzac, is La Jasse Castel, owned and operated by former teacher and wine journalist, Pascale Rivière. She prides herself on producing wines that reflect her domaine and her personality – which is spirited and energetic! These two AOPs are primarily known for rosés and reds, but white wines are also available under the overarching AOP Languedoc.
Winetraveler Tip: Pascale is the founder of the region’s wine trail for women winemakers, “La Route des Vinifilles,” which she founded 10 years ago. Today the route features 18 winemakers across 25 Languedoc appellations.
Wife and husband team, Marie and Frederic Chauffray used to run a wine shop, but after Marie became interested in growing grapes, they purchased a vineyard situated at 400 meters elevation in the hills overlooking the Vallée de l’Hérault within the AOP Terrasses du Larzac. Also located on La Route des Vinifilles, the duo produces about 2,500 cases per year and do so both biodynamically and organically owing to the Mistral winds that blow through the vineyards year-round. Visits are by appointment only as you’ll be guided through the wines and cellars (potentially for a barrel tasting) by either Marie or Frederic.
To make an appointment, call +33 06 76 04 03 88.
Days Three to Six
Where to Stay
Regardless of how many nights you spend in Montpellier, you will not want to miss Pézanas, just southwest of Montpellier. This small city of only about 9,000 people is quintessentially medieval, yet also bustling with local families and modern life. It’s a place to wander and lose yourself (and given it’s not that large, you’re never really lost).
In the summer you’ll find numerous festivals. Year-round, you’ll find a plethora of many craft, art boutiques and antique shops. Plus, Pézanas is only 20 minutes from the Mediterranean. We highly recommend an early morning walk as the sun rises to watch the quiet city come to life while you explore the narrow medieval streets – you’ll have them practically to yourself! As for restaurants, it’s hard to go wrong in this village. We recommend wandering, looking at menus and finding the atmosphere that suits your mood in the moment.
A former distillery, this beautiful property sits on the La Peyne river and is within 15 minutes of Mediterranean beaches. It’s also a short five-minute walk into the heart of Pézanas. It’s an ideal location to settle for several nights and offers a pool, wine bar, restaurant and spa. You’ll want to plan to spend a little time relaxing here. And a bonus – during restaurant hours, the house sommelier is on-hand for winery recommendations, including many local options.
Traveling with a group, or perhaps looking for the ideal place in Languedoc to host your wedding (and yes, it is ideal!), you can rent all or portions of the castle at Château Saint Martin de la Garrigue. This stunning property features a recently renovated 18th century Renaissance castle and a 9th century chapel. Tucked away from the world on 400 acres, you can explore the winery, 60 acres of vineyards, stroll the whimsical gardens, swim, play tennis or relax on the rooftop terrace. You will most certainly feel like royalty nestled in your own private Château.
Wineries to Visit from Pézanas in the Languedoc
Even if you’re not staying at the castle, the Château is a must-visit for the luxurious ambiance and its elegant wines. The vineyards feature 18 different grapes including local varieties Carignan, Cinsault, Terret Bourret, and international varieties Chardonnay, Cabernet Sauvignon and Merlot. After a tasting and tour of the visually impressive cellar, stroll the castle gardens or olive groves. We didn’t want to leave!
The winery is open year-round from Monday to Friday (except French national holidays) from 8 a.m. to 12 p.m. and from 2 p.m. to 5 p.m. Groups and appointments outside of the listed hours can contact the winery for appointments.
This family of winemakers has been producing wine as far back as 1794. A larger producer at roughly 65,000 cases per year, current owners Jacques and Françoise Boyer made a radical shift to strive for quality over quantity beginning in 1977. They replanted the vineyards, while continually improving on the viticulture techniques used by earlier generations (including drastically reducing yield for more concentrated fruit flavors and healthier grapes). They also gradually transformed the cellars to blend traditional winemaking with the latest technologies to help ensure quality. It’s been a labor of love and as Proprietress Francoise Boyer says, “It’s a long story, but for us it’s life.”
The winery shop and tasting room offers a complete line of White, Rosé and Red Wines. It’s open Monday to Friday from 9 a.m. to 12 p.m. and from 2 p.m. to 6 p.m. They also offer Saturday hours from 10:30 a.m. to 12 p.m. and from 2:30 p.m. to 5:30 p.m. (Saturdays November to Easter by appointment only)
A smaller producer compared to the aforementioned wineries, wife and husband Cécile and Stéphane Garidou-Yerle produce nearly 6,000 cases of wine annually and all on their own. Beginning in 2000 with one hectare of vineyards, today they cultivate 12 hectares organically and have a goal of reaching 20 hectares in AOP Saint Chinian and IGP Coteaux d’Enserune.
Among the vineyards are Carignan vines over a century in age. Built entirely from scratch, the Vila Voltaire winery produces White Wines, Rosés and Reds with minimal use of oak. Stéphane makes wines to drink and rather than focusing on year-over-year consistency, he believes in respecting what each vintage delivers by offering a pure expression of the terroir. He feels this is best expressed through winemaking with stainless, fiberglass, concrete and amphora.
“Winemaking is not about money; it is a passion. We pour as much love into our fresh and easy wines as we do in our complex wines. I like to explore the kinds of wines we can make and taste the diversity of life in Languedoc,” – Stéphane Yerle
Visits are available by appointment.
Plan Your Getaway
It is easy to spend a few days to weeks in this sunny region in the South of France, and again, depending on the amount of time you’ll be spending in the region, we hope these options help get you started. As another option or in conjunction with the above outlined itinerary, we’ll have more options coming to you soon that will take you to both seaside and mountain vineyards.