Historic Carcassonne and vineyards
Historic Carcassonne presents a spectacular backdrop for the Languedoc vineyards. Photo: Fotolia

From Camargue to the Pyrénées, from the Lozère highlands to the Côte Vermeille by way of the Piémont and the plains of the Languedoc, Languedoc-Roussillon is a wonderfully diverse region to explore. It has six majestic World Heritage sites listed by UNESCO (Pont du Gard, the Canal du Midi, Carcassonne, the paths of Saint Jacques de Compostela, the Vauban fortresses of Mont-Louis and Villefranche-de-Conflent, and the Causses and the Cévennes). But for food and wine lovers it offers equal riches and diversity, with fabulous markets, great local dishes and all manner of wine-related touring and tasting options.

Let’s begin with the grape. This sunny part of France represents the oldest and largest vineyard in the world, with a diversity of terroirs that allow the wine-makers to create every wine style from robust reds to refreshing whites, and even exciting sparklers. Well-known wines from Corbières, Minervois, Roussillon and south-west Rhône sit alongside naturally sweet wines (don’t miss the muscats of Lunel, Mireval, Frontignan, Rivesaltes, Banyuls, and Banyuls Grand Cru), or the fizzies, Blanquette and Crémant de Limoux.

THE JOY OF WINE TOURISM

Throughout the summer, the region becomes a paradise for lovers of wine tourism with a multitude of special events which take the form of tastings in unique settings – such as a wine and food trails with stops along a predefined route. For example, events take place throughout the summer with a great number of wine circuits to explore in the terraces of Larzac, the wandering vines in Pic Saint-Loup, and to top it all off, the large wine fair at Uzès. The icing on the cake this year is that the Faugères appellation is celebrating its 30th anniversary, culminating on July 8 in the John the Baptist Feast in the village of Faugères.

apricots
The Languedoc-Roussillon region is acclaimed for fruits like apricots. Photo: Fotolia

At apéro time in these parts, you’ll find the locals enjoying regional specialities such as Lucques olives, tielles from Sète (a spicy octopus pie), anchovies from Collioure and delicious oysters from the Thau lagoon. Got a sweet tooth? The region is also acclaimed for its beautiful summer fruits, including oozingly juicy apricots. Here’s one way to enjoy them: a simple clafoutis recipe by Michelin-star chef Guy Martin of the Grand Véfour. Bon app!

Ingredients: 150ml milk, 60g  our, 50g sugar, 3 eggs, 40g butter melted, 1g of lavender blossoms and 10 ‘Rouge’ Roussillon apricots.

Directions: Cut the apricots in two, remove the pits, and place the apricot halves cut side down in a baking tin. Combine the  our and sugar in a mixing bowl. Add the eggs and mix, then pour in the milk and the melted butter. Add the lavender blossoms last. Preheat the oven to 180°C. Pour the batter over the apricots and bake for 30 minutes. Serve the clafoutis right from the pan, at room temperature or chilled. (From 100 Recettes du Sud, Guy Martin, Editions du Chêne.)

 Read more about Sud de France at en.destinationsuddefrance.com

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From France Today magazine

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