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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
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Chapter 14: The vintner next door
Chapter 15: The rooftops of Nézignan-l'Évêque
Chapter 2: Comes the crusade
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Chapter 4: Our curtains are dreadful
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Chapter 7: A pilgrimage to Toulouse
Chapter 8: Remembering Collioure
Chapter 9: The priest and the mayor
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A Day Trip Itinerary...print this out   print the content item
Bouzigues and vicinity: Oysters, dry gardens, brocante

Bouzigues_farms.jpgWhat's the second largest industry in this part of France, after wine? Growing oysters.

In the tiny port of Bouzigues, you can savor fresh oysters and mussels a few yards from the well-tempered Bassin de Thau, the flamingo-frequented lagoon where they grow. There's even a museum in town devoted to shellfish farming, for those who must know more.

Chez la Tchepe is typical of these barebones waterfront eateries: a few tables and a raw bar. Go in, tell the attendant how many oysters you'd like, pick a drink (a rosé or the local chilled white, Picpoul-de-Pinet, are perfect), sit. Service comes. When you're done, go in to pay. But there are many others to choose from. And many are open Sundays.

Eat to your heart's content, by the way. Raw oysters are a health food. An oyster has less than 10 calories. It is low in cholesterol. And the small amount of fat an oyster does contain is the good kind, high in omega-3 fatty acids.

A few minutes down the road from Bouzigues you'll come into Mèze, home of Pépinière Filippi, internationally recognized as a leading authority in "sec" (dry) Mediterranean gardening. Experts and gardeners from around the world learn from the Filippis, who travel widely on research. If you're from the U.S., you won't be buying plants to take home. But the Guide-Catalogue (2002 cost: 7.62 Euros) is worth putting on any serious gardener's bookshelf. It's in French, but even for English-only speakers, it's easy to follow and extraordinarily informative. Now we know why the sedum plants in our garden should be moved to a drier spot and how to make our various species of lavender thrive...even in New England. The Pépinière Filippi is on the main road, N113, just before you enter Mèze from Bouzigues. If you miss it, there's a roundabout immediately. The Filippis maintain a demonstration garden of "wild" plants, their specialty.

Finally, for those who love brocante (used stuff, less than 100 years old): try the several stores in Fabrègues, toward Montpellier on the N113. We found one with ridiculously high prices, while another, operated by a young woman industriously cleaning her wares, was quite reasonable. All part of the fun.

From Valros, take the N9 toward Pézenas. Pick up the N113 directly to Mèze. Follow the N113 toward Montpellier. First stop: Pépinière Filippi. Next: Bouzigues. Last: Fabrègues.
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