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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
Gruissan: Seaside village and tomorrow's grapes
Gruissan2.jpgWe went for the hike, no. 39 in Topo-Guide 44, L'Aude, Pays Cathare...à pied. A 2.5 ramble beside the salt lagoons near Narbonne sounded refreshing. Flamingos flock there. And the foothills of Montagne de la Clape add worn limestone drama.

La Clape is a designated terroir of the Coteaux du Languedoc AOC. This isolated geological feature juts up between Narbonne and its beaches, echoing the rugged Corbières hills farther inland.

The walk was a treat. Clear day, powerful wind (wind farms are common in the region), salt air; and the seaside village of Gruissan, an old core wrapped in new development, was picture pretty.

La Cite.jpgBut the highlight was a visit to La Cité de la vigne et du vin. A collaboration between the French agricultural ministry and the domaine de Pech Rouge, La Cité develops new grape varieties and sells wines made from these hybrids, in extremely limited editions. We purchased examples of their age-worthy Marselan (a cross between Cabernet-Sauvignon and Grenache), their delightful Portan (a cross between Grenache and Portugais blue), and their mighty Caladoc (a cross between Grenache and Cot).
Time to destination: less than an hour. Directions: From our house, go to the Autoroute, the A9. Head south toward Barcelona. Get off at exit 38 (Narbonne Sud). After the tollbooth, follow the signs toward Gruissan. If you're doing the hike, pass through the village of Gruissan or follow the signs for Autres Directions (you'll skirt the village and avoid the narrow streets). Cross the bridge south of Gruissan and turn left, following the signs for Château Bel Évêque, a local vintner. On your left is the Mediterranean and huge piles of sea salt. Continue following the Bel Évêque signs. They lead you down passable dirt roads to a parking lot with a signboard for Le sentier des Goules.
To reach La Cité de la vigne et du vin, follow the D32 through Gruissan to the D332. Look for road signs for the La Cité de la vigne et du vin. Turn left onto D168, and in a mile or so you'll see an entrance on your right.
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