NEARBY PLACES YOU MIGHT LIKE TO VISIT:
Coastal Languedoc stretches from the wetlands of the Petite Camargue, with its white horses and black bulls, to the Cote Vermeille by the Spanish border. The space between is filled with endless sandy beaches and flamingo filled lagoons and many architectural and historical sites. The fascinating legacy of the Cathars, Carcassonne, and the amazing mountain fortresses at Queribus and Peyrepertuse, the wonderful Saint Guilhem le Desert and its abbey, the walled town of Aigues Mortes, the 'black pearl' Agde, the oldest fishing port in France and built of lava. Pezenas the antiques centre of South West France, weekly brocantes at Marseillan Plage. Sete with its unique water jousting and Bouzigues offering fresh oysters and mussels grown in the Etang de Thau. The Canal du Midi with many delightful villages beside it, such as Capestang, and further away, much painted 'Fauvist' Collioure, an iconic Mediterranean fishing and trading port.....all easily accessible from Roquebrun.
Of course the routes rarely end up as planned with frequent stops to see things along the way like markets or a bit of degustation at domains and caves, along with plenty of monuments and views! The times are approximate and are EACH WAY!
Roquebrun : 10 Mins walk
Just up the hill from Le Guet is the Jardin Mediterranean – follow the signs….. Due to the micro climate that Roquebrun enjoys by being protected by hills all round, an internationally known botanical garden has been developed that contains examples of every Mediterranean plant. The garden winds its way up the mountain with easily accessible paths and gives a great view of the village and the river Orb valley from the highest point.
Murviel les Beziers: 15 mins
You don’t have to go far to visit a typical medieval circulade village. Murviel les Beziers is just down the road with a nice signposted walk through the back streets with the Chateau and church on top of the hill. Take a rest at the bar afterwards.
Gorges d’Heric: 40 minutes.
A beautiful walk up a gorge – probably about two hours walking if you go right to the top. The path is mostly made up so it’s easy going. In the summer months there are many pools of fresh spring water to bathe in. Leave RB on the Vieussan road and just keep going until you meet the main road T junction. Turn left for Mons and then right into Mons village (nice Café/Bar here with good simple country food) and then follow the signs to the Gorges d’Heric car park.
Minerve: 1 hour
A sensational village built on an outcrop in the middle of a gorge. A visit here is highly recommended. The village has a number of discreet shops and restaurants which do not over commercialise it.
St-Guilhem-le-Desert: 1.5 hours
A really stunning Abbey and village set in a gorge. A touring route to get there from RB is leave on the Vieussan road. Go all the way to the T junction and turn right onto the D908. Go through Bedarieux and through to Clermont-l’Herault. Stay on the D908 to Cignac. Take the D32 to Aniane and St-Guilhem. If you don’t want to return by the scenic route you can always use the A75 back to Beziers.
Beziers: 25 Minutes
An historic and lively town with all amenities and good selection of shops. The large central Place has many inexpensive restaurants around it. Combine lunch with a visit to the large market and a walk round the atmospheric Cathedral and Churches to experience the tragedy of the Cathar resistance.
Beziers Neuf Ecluses: 30 minutes
This is a series of nine locks on the Canal du Midi and is certainly worth a visit if only to see the volume of water that is being moved around. From the centre of Beziers pick up the D609 to Narbonne and then watch for the Quai Port Neuf Ecluses de Fonseranes on the left. You can park on site.
Pezenas: 50 minutes
The antiques centre of the South West. The road into Pezenas, from the A75, is lined with antique and brocante shops. You can park in the centre of town. While there walk through the back streets, particularly the old Jewish Quarter, which are most atmospheric. Loads of good value restaurants especially if you walk into the town from the car park.
Agde: 45 minutes
Agde is worth a visit, built of black lava rock - it is called the black city. It has a large town square, cathedral, and an interesting signed walk through the old town. In passing you can nip out to the Grau–d’Agde where the river L’Herault enters the sea, for a bit of fresh air and coffee or meal at one of the many cafes overlooking the sea. There is also a really nice beach and restaurants at Cap D'Agde.
Capstang: 45 minutes
On the Canal du Midi Capstang is a delightful small town with a fine central square. Just out of the centre there is a particularly pretty stretch of the Canal with a couple of café/bars overlooking the boating activity.
Serignan Plage: 45 minutes
An outstanding beach which is typically French family orientated – rarely found by “tourists”. Large and clean with a couple of cafes on the beach it can be found by following the Sete signs running clockwise on the Bezier ring road but at a very large roundabout take a right to Serignan and Valras Plage. In Serignan turn left for Serignan Plage. If you like a more commercial beach then Valras Plage fits the bill.
Carcassonne Old City: 1.5 hours
Some say this is a bit of Disneyland but we think it’s better. Commercialised, yes, but still a fascinating place which manages to maintain a great atmosphere. There are several good value restaurants in the centre of the old city and take the tour – it all makes more sense if you do. We like to take the scenic route – pick up the D11 from the Beziers ring road anti-clock from RB – Capestang, Pouzols-Minervois, Puicheric-Trebes and then into Carcassonne follow the signs for La Cite.
The Cathar Castles: 2 – 2.5 hours.
There are several Cathar Castles with Queribus and Peyrepeteuse being the most famous. You can just about do it in one long day but well worth it. The castles are situated to the left of Carcassonne and are absolutely stunning. You can drive to within a 10 – 20 minute walk of the castles themselves. Watch out though - the paths are probably old mule tracks and are quite hard going and can be slippery. But worth every gasp and graze!
Collioure. 1.5/2 hours.
A truly beautiful seaside town the far side of Narbonne which has featured heavily in many impressionist paintings. Lovely walks through the town and beside the sea with plenty of watering holes. There is also a gallery just on the edge of the town which displays works by many of the Fauvist artists who worked there. On the way back take the coast road and see Gruissan, a perfect example of a circulade village set beside the sea, and flocks of flamingos.
Millau and La Couvertoirade. 2 Hours.
This may seem a trip too far but if worked in with a nice lunch stop somewhere is really worth doing. We suggest that you take the motorway A75 and drive over the amazing Millau bridge and then come off the motorway and drive back through Millau itself to see the bridge from the ground. There is a viewpoint off the motorway just over the bridge as well. Rejoin the motorway south of Millau and proceed to the exit at Le Caylar and follow the signs to La Couvertoirade. La Couvertoirade is an almost unchanged fortified village and is quite amazing, they say it is what Carcassonne should have been. There are various restaurants and tea rooms within the walls but it has not been over commercialised. On the way back use the motorway again but come off at Lodeve and follow the road through Lunas to Bedarieux and then through Lamalou les Bains and just drive gently down the picturesque Orb Valley until you come to the left hand turn to Vieussan and Roquebrun. You will be dead tired but satisfied!
Aigues-Mortes 1.5 hours
A wonderful unspoilt walled village just the other side of Montpelier. A very easy drive using the motorway and worth doing a two centre drive out by including Uzes. A really nice day out.
The improving quality of the wine in the St Chinian area and the, we think, low prices, present outstanding value. Most villages have their own cave co-operative and when passing its always worth stopping for a taste or two! There are, of course independent producers as well. One of our local favourites are Audier at Vieussan – their Merlot at 4 Euros (2016!) is great and the two domains just over the bridge, Thierry Navarre on the right and Michel Claparede on the left offer interesting selections. The Roquebrun cave has an excellent range as does the cave at Berlou.
Another approach is to buy a selection of local wines from Brigitte at the Roquebrun Vival, her prices are very fair, or any one of the supermarkets, where you can spread the net to Fitou, Minervois and Corbieres and if you particularly like one you can find the domaine or cave and buy direct. Also watch out for some great Rose as well such as that from the Domaine des Dames on the back road to Roquebrun just down the road past the cemetery out of Murviel les Beziers. And we must add another amazing Vigneron we just discovered, again, just the other side of Murviel les Beziers - Domaine La Croix Belle at Puissalicon. Their range of whites, reds and roses are delicious and very well priced. But wine is a very personal taste so be sure you must taste it for yourself - happy degustation!
A full list of local markets can be obtained from the Information Office.
Most of the markets run form 07.00 to 13.00
Beziers – Les Halles, Tuesday to Sunday Place Pierre Semard.
Beziers – Traditional, Friday 07.00 to 13.00, Place du 8 Mai.
Beziers – Flower, Friday 07.00 to 19.00, allees Paul Riquet.
Pezenas – Traditional, Saturday 09.00 to 18.00, Du Cours Jean Jaures.
Bedarieux – Traditional, Monday 08.00 to 13.00, Place Albert Thomas.
St Chinian – Traditional, Sunday 08.00 to 13.00, allees de la Promenade
Marseillan Plage – every Saturday and Sunday on the road to Sete via Agde - Antiques/Flea market with great moules frites accompanied by local wine eaten outside at communal benches – fun!
The web site www.vide-greniers.org has a full list of flea markets and brocantes.