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Jan 26, 2012 05:02 AM

Ideas for Languedoc-Roussillon and around?

Hi all,
What do you think of the eating while traveling in Languedoc-Roussillon and around? We have two weeks in late May/early June to do it and have a few Languedoc leads gleaned from the board and Ptipois' blog: l'Entonnoir in Sète, Le Tilleul in Générargues, Restaurant le Mimosa (and its hotel) in Saint Saturnin de Lucian, possibly the Auberge du Cèdre. Any other ideas would be fantastic!

We thought we'd get our fix of seafood and beaches in and nearer to coastal Languedoc; and then drive out of the region, via the Camargue, up to the Hotel Faurie in Saint-Agrève (and possibly to Valence). We might also drive along the coast in the other direction and over the Spanish border to eat at Saint Pau in San Pol de Mar. If anyone thinks we're missing somewhere unmissable en route, in either direction, please say!

(Incidentally, I remember a France board thread where souphie recommended a few regions/areas in France worth traveling to that are less well-known but I can't find it. If anyone knows where it is I'd be really grateful!)

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  1. I only know L'Entonnoir in Sète and Hotel Faurie in St Agrève. Love both, esp the latter.

    In Sète, a food ditem not to miss is the tielle. The best can be found on 11 quai de la Résistance. Look for a nondescript storefront with a long queue outside. Tielle has a crunchy pizza-like outer crust, and runny seafood inside. Sometimes it turns up in supermarkets in other parts of France, but you can't eat them once you have had good ones in Sète.

    The seafood market in Sète is also a great visit, where ou can get a plate of the freshest L'Etang de Thau oysters and a glass of white all costing nothing. It is a much nicer lunch spot than any of the beachfront restos with barkers outside.

    Between the coastal Languedoc area and Ardèche (St Agrève), you will pass by Arles, a town with a rich concentratin of good eats, from gastronomic temples like Atelier Rabanel to street food from the wonderful Saturday morning market.

    As for the question whether you are missing somewhere unmissable, yeaaah. You have only 2 weeks. Of course you will miss a whole lot, but for your maximum enjoyment, your current concept is just fine - focusing on two areas: Languedoc and Ardèche (the area around St Agrève). Even then you will be missing a lot. Just around St Agrève there are enough listed plus beaux villages for you to visit 2 per day for a week.

    The other direction - the Basque country - also has great eats and great landscape, but you can't - don't want to - cover all three regions in which case you will end up having a lasting impression of French freeways which look a lot like other countries' freeways, instead of experiencing anything. So stick to your instinct which has been good so far, and have a great trip.

    1 Reply
    1. re: Parigi

      Thank you - this is great! We went to the Basque country last summer for our honeymoon and had an amazing time. Actually, we got some great recommendations from you for that region, too! (Loved Olhabidea.) Excited to check out the sort of mirror coast.

    2. We love this area! Possible inclusions are a night or two at La Bruguiere (chambre d'hote with table d'hote) a few km south of Anduze, a perfect place to stay when you dine at Le Tilleul which is a scant 20 minutes away. Phillippe Nusswitz makes some lovely wines and his wife, Pascale, is a fine cook, offering an evening meal several times a week by reservation. These are wine-centric meals where wine and conversation flow. They have lived in the US, speak perfect English and are quite interesting people. http://www.chambre-hotes-gite-labrugu...

      Just north of Nimes in Sanhilac is Le Tractor, a modern bistro in a tiny village. Passionate young chef and staff.

      The area around Le Mimosa is a rich wine area. Don't miss the Pugh's wine bar, Le Terrass de Mimosa, in Montpeyroux. Great collection of local wines, excellent and reasonable food, a lunch hang-out for local winemakers. Recommend that you read Virgile's Vineyard by Patrick Moon who reports on his year spent in this area.

      Parigi, would you recommend including a night or two at Le Mas de la Madeleine as a sigue from Languedoc to the Ardeche?

      (FWIW, We will return to Hotel Faurie in March. Totally agree with Parigi. It is a singular place.)

      6 Replies
      1. re: mangeur

        Any excuse to stop at Mas de la Madeleine is good. :-)
        It is about a 2 hour drive south of St Agrève.
        MdM, with the farm-fresh food, the lovely garden, the Medieval town of Largentière down the hill (walkable), is great for a one-night stand.
        Arles as a base does offer more to do, as well as a bigger choice of eateries.
        But personally I would not go for a large number of bases within a short distance. I despise but despise packing unpacking.

        1. re: Parigi

          "Arles as a base does offer more to do, as well as a bigger choice of eateries.
          But personally I would not go for a large number of bases within a short distance. I despise but despise packing unpacking."

          Dissenting slightly from Parigi's recommendation, we find that two night stands offer us the stability of a home base and also the opportunity to meet more local people. We stay in chambre d'hotes or "restaurants with rooms" rather than hotels, finding these small, often private lodgings more personal although never smothering. Also, by staying out in the country or in villages, we avoid the sense of urban traffic and potential problems with parking.

          Once at a stop, we don't bother to unpack other than daily needs and toiletries. . We leave one piece of luggage at our hotel in Paris, edit our wardrobes to a minimum and schlep only one shared 24" roller-bag to the country. Each of us takes a carry on. And that's the extent of our luggage for out-of-town jaunts. Most of ours range from one to slightly over two weeks.

          1. re: mangeur

            I agree with your concept of 2 night stands. This is what we did last summer in the Basque and it was a good strategy. Like how you can meet more local people, as you say, and also prefer to stay more in the countryside than in a city. I think we're going to rent a car - which tends to mitigate the packing-unpacking slog since you can just leave a bunch of stuff in the trunk. Also, is always relaxing to sleep where you eat!

        2. re: mangeur

          I am adding a dinner spot to the St. Guiraud/Gignac area, one that could be easily accessed from the Mimosa hotel in St. Saturnin.

          The Mas Cambounet is the collaboration of Fabienne Perret (chef) and Jean-Charles Thibault (winemaker). Their country dining room is located a couple of km east of Gignac, just south of the freeway. Jean-Charles acts as the most gracious host and serves the dining room with warmth and soul. The cooking is astonishingly sophisticated for this hidden-in-the-woods auberge. Very unfortunately, they no longer offer rooms, but their food and wine stand on their own merit.

          The following meal was in April 2011 when they were still offering chambre d'hote. The room, 2 breakfasts, 2 dinners paired with wine cost 169€.

          Today, all of their focus is on food and wine.

          1. re: mangeur

            Thank you for this! My husband went to Le Tractor a couple of years ago with his parents and is eager to return so we'll definitely be going there.
            Love the Hotel Faurie's website - so clever to hold something back, create a little mystery.

            1. re: mangeur

              OK, we gladly give up. Inspired by this thread and especially mangeur's recs (including Patrick Moon's beautifully written book that she mentions -- as well as his follow-up book, "Arrazat's Aubergines, Inside a Languedoc Kitchen" -- we will fill about two weeks in Sept in this general area, two and three night stands. Now the fun part, to plan the route. In addition to the excellent sounding places to stay and dine, we'd be particularly interested in recs concerning local prehistory caves for visiting. -- Jake

            2. A very interesting threat which I shall piggy back on as I'd be very interested to hear of some places in the region, and of anywhere in Montpellier itself.

              1. A bit north of the coast is a great little town called Uzes. Great saturday market, wonderful town.

                1. You must have found this favorite thread of mine already. If not, hope it's useful.

                  1 Reply
                  1. re: Parigi

                    Yes, that's a favorite of ours too!