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Day trips from the house
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House diaries
A Working Holiday
Chapter 1: We Leave for France
Chapter 10: Looking for Mr. Goodstone
Chapter 11: A mission to la Clape
Chapter 12: Dinner at Château de Lignan
Chapter 13: Antiques and plunder
Chapter 14: The vintner next door
Chapter 15: The rooftops of Nézignan-l'Évêque
Chapter 2: Comes the crusade
Chapter 3: The 13 colonies
Chapter 4: Our curtains are dreadful
Chapter 5: Naked beaches
Chapter 6: A visit to Château des Estanilles
Chapter 7: A pilgrimage to Toulouse
Chapter 8: Remembering Collioure
Chapter 9: The priest and the mayor
Languedoc Roussillon
Recreation in the region
Sights to see
Regional wines
Antiques & junque
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The Languedoc-Roussillon region of France is blessed with many things to see, all within an easy day trip of Valros. Also within reach: Provence, the lower reaches of the Massif Central, important sites associated with the Albigensian Crusades, and the Pyrenees. A list of highlights and favorites:
  • Aigues Mortes A well-preserved fortified Crusader port
  • Albi Birthplace of Toulouse-Lautrec; the most complete collection of his work hangs here, at his namesake museum
  • Arles A quintessential Provençal town, with a Roman amphitheater still in use
  • Avignon France’s largest festival takes place here from mid-July to mid-August, at the magnificent Palais des Papes, home until 1403 of the 10 non-Roman popes. Wine lovers will want to sample Châteauneuf-du-Pape, one of the finest Rhône wines, grown nearby.
  • Béziers Hostilities in the Albigensian Crusades began here in 1209 with the slaughter of 20,000 townspeople. 20 mins. from Valros, replete with strip malls. Hosts a daily covered market, a weekly flower market, and a monthly antiques market.
  • the Canal du Midi A serene and tree-lined 17th-century engineering wonder, this 149-mile waterway is now a popular cruise for tourist barges.
  • Carcassonne Many-turreted, "restored" to movie-set perfection, this 12th-century double-walled citadel town is one of France’s most-visited attractions.
  • ...
    Nearby fishing ports like Sète, France’s second largest, keep the region well-supplied with fresh seafood.
    Collioure Artists have flocked to this sun-baked, very Spanish-feeling little fishing port, the adopted home of the late nautical novelist, Patrick O’Brian.
  • Perigord, Quercy and Gascony Equally famous for truffles and Lascaux cave drawings, this region attracts summer crowds to pretty medieval towns and pilgrimage sites. A good overnight destination a few hours drive away.
  • the Gorges du Tarn Take a 15-mile slice of America’s Grand Canyon and add medieval villages and some very challenging roads. A breathtaking sight.
  • the Hérault River Swift, powerful, tumbling through deep limestone gorges, the Herault makes a dramatic entrance on to the plain west of Montpellier. Along the river’s length, two underground wonders: the Grotte des Demoiselles and the Grotte de Clamouse.
  • Lagrasse A monastery town, hidden in the Corbières, now home to many artists
  • Lac du Salagou Bathe, wind-surf, fish or hike at this dramatic lake set amidst geologic wonders
  • the Mediterranean A twenty minute drive from Valros you’ll be spreading your blanket on white sand beaches. Europe’s largest nudist colony resides at Cap d’Agde.
  • Montpellier Less than an hour from Valros, this cosmopolitan city offers a rich assortment of restaurants, shopping, architecture and museums. Usually, we fly to Paris and catch a connecting flight to Montpellier, where we pick up a rental car.
  • Nîmes A prosperous town, flush with festivals, museums and notable architecture including a vast Roman amphitheater
  • Pézenas Five minutes from Valros, charming Pézenas has a very walkable Renaissance core, with interesting shops. It also offers the nearest ATM. The town is a major antique center, with dozens of dealers. A summer-long arts festival offers numerous distractions. The town square hosts a lively market every Saturday.
  • Parc Régional du Haut Languedoc For hikers and nature lovers, France’s second largest national park is less than an hour away
  • Pont du Gard An engineering masterpiece 2000 years old, this virtually intact Roman aqueduct spans a yawning chasm 157 feet deep. You’re welcome to walk across, but beware: no guardrails!
  • Small Romanesque churches dot the landscape. One of the great, old pilgrimage routes passes near Valros.
    Provence Herbs, sun, fortified hilltop villages, and sparkling bays: Peter Mayles’ books have intensified the popularity of this delightful region, first colonized by the Greeks in the 7th century BC.
  • the Pyrenees Wild boar still thrive in the forests, which are laced with hiking trails. In the winter the mountains are a popular skiing destination.
  • Sète France’s second-largest fishing port, this industrious town’s quays are lined with restaurants.
  • St-Guilhem-le-Désert Steep, crooked medieval streets surround the superb Romanesque church in this tiny, monastic town tucked into a mountain ravine. Many artisans have set up shop here.
  • Spain Barcelona is three hours south of Valros. As an option, instead of flying to Paris and catching a connecting flight to Montpellier, you can fly direct to Barcelona.
  • Toulouse Known for its red brick construction, this ancient city rewards walkers with one architectural masterpiece after another.

  • www.the-languedoc-page.com -- A truly encyclopedic portal to the region, viewed from every imaginable perspective
  • www.frenchculture.org -- French art exhibits, performances, more
  • www.a75.com -- lots of wonderful, mapped out itineraries all starting at the new north-south highway, the A75 Autoroute; in French, but easy to follow.
  • www.shoppingmontpellier.com -- The on-line yellow pages for Montpellier...and oh, how easy it is to find things here. Browse by type of store, name of store, or print out extremely detailed maps of the city's crooked little byways. In French only (but who cares).
  • www.michelin-travel.com/eng/sommaire.cgi?Flash=OUI? -- This Michelin site calculates the distance and road time between any two places you enter, and provides a map of the route. Great for figuring out how far it is from Valros to Avignon or anywhere else.
  • www.mappy.com/direct/mappy/accueil -- Mappy quickly calculates the time and distance from any place to any place in France. With Mappy, you can accurately estimate in a few seconds how far it will be from Valros (home of "our house in France") to any destination.
  • www.amazon.com -- travel guides
  • www.europeanvisits.com  -- "The online magazine of European travel"
  • www.travelguidewarehouse.com  -- books, maps: big selection
  • www.francetourism.com  -- the French national tourism office
  • www.europe-france.com/carcassonne/en  -- good history and map of fortified Carcassonne
  • www.provencebeyond.com  -- all the Provence except the coast; a strong site
  • www.little-france.com  -- covering Perpignan and the Catalan areas bordering Spain; a fascinating site, packed with news and info; some English
  • www.ville-montpellier.fr  -- French-only site
  • www.ville-beziers.fr  -- French-only site
  • www.mairie-narbonne.fr  -- French-only site; web cam of main square
  • www.demoiselles.com  -- take a virtual tour of these striking caverns on the Hérault
  • www.decouvertes-herault.fr/US  A full virtual tour of the Hérault region and its many attractions.
  • www.bparis.com Amazing site written by ex-pat American journalists. Breaking French news covered in depth (hear all about the latest strikes). Lively chat rooms on subjects like French film. Even French lessons on-line. With guest columns by food critic Patricia Wells and shopping superstar Suzy Gershman. Dozens of richly detailed articles about all parts of France.
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