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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
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
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A Day Trip Itinerary...print this out   print the content item
Roquebrun and the Orb River Beaches

At the sign of the La Cerise sur le Gâteau (the cherry on the cake), Roquebrun hikers can relax with artisanal white chocolate ice cream, puckery lemon sorbet, a glass of fresh-pressed grapefruit juice, even a crêpe or a salad for lunch.
From Roquebrun, you can canoe/kayak the clean, mountain-fed Orb or cool off in its waters, at a riverside beach. Tucked away in a mountain valley, Roquebrun has an oddly mild microclimate. Its most celebrated attraction is a Mediterranean garden featuring hundreds of cacti. Roquebrun has a beach right in town. Ten minutes away, just south of Cessenon-sur-Orb, there's another, where the canoes haul out. Even on a busy day, it's not hard to find a private spot to enjoy the rocks, pools, shallow rapids, and occasional patch of sand. Bring a folding chair and sunblock. Time to destination: 45 minutes or less.

Sun-blessed Roquebrun's downtown beach, on the mountain-fed river Orb.
From Valros, take the N9 toward Béziers. At the roundabout, follow the signs toward Roquebrun, then Murviel-lès-Béziers. Take the D154 toward Murviels. It becomes the D19. At Murviel, turn left onto the D36, at the sign for the "base de canoe/kayak." This will take you over the Orb River. Turn right onto the D14, toward Cessenon-sur-Orb. Quite soon you pass the canoe/kayak terminus. Next door is a river beach, with free parking and grills. The canoe/kayak rides begin in Roquebrun further up the D14. The route to St. Chinian, if you're diverging for wine, is the D20, north of Cessenon-sur-Orb.

The Wall Street Journal spotlighted Saint-Chinian producer, Canet Valette, in a 2002 article that brought to world attention a dozen outstanding Languedoc vintners. Here: Une et Mille Nuits (a thousand and one nights), an especially delicious blend.
For hikers: many trails begin in Roquebrun. We kept the signs for the Mediterranean garden at our left shoulder as we passed through town, and hiked up a canyon. An easy stroll through the surrounding district is also signposted at the bridge over the Orb. For wine lovers: wine expert, Oz Clarke, says Roquebrun has "an excellent co-operative...[where] the preponderance of Syrah and Mourvèdre...gives wines that are well structured and capable of aging. The top wines are aged in new oak." A few minutes from Roquebrun are two major AOCs, St, Chinian and Faugères. Among the St. Chinian wines highly recommended by the Wall Street Journal in 2002 were three domaines: Borie la Vitarelle, G. Moulinier, and Canet-Valette. Also superb, from the schist hills of Faugères: the cuvée Prestige from Château des Estanilles. This is not a traditional Faugères, but rather the secret blend of Estanilles' master vintner, Michel Louison. The easiest place to buy this gorgeous wine is NOT at the domaine itself, but at an Elf petrol station in Faugères, next to the D909 and a stone's throw from the Faugères co-operative. (See the Estanilles daytrip for more information.)
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