It’s vacation time in Italy so Il Ragazzo (a.k.a The Boy) and I are on a European road trip. To kick things off, blog party-style, I thought I’d share some of my favorite Narbonne pictures from our first stop in the South of France.
Narbonne is in France’s Languedoc-Roussillon wine region. Il Ragazzo fancied a wine tasting at an area producer, so off we went.
Bienvenue à Narbonne!
Our first day out called for 7 hours of drive time. We did lunch in Nice, France to check out the scene. It was overrun with people, overpriced, and hot – about what you’d expect. It was beautiful, for sure, but the heavy tourist population and rocky beaches left us both underwhelmed. Probably not a seaside town that will make our “must-do list”.
Night 1: Narbonne Pictures
We arrived in Narbonne late afternoon and walked around the city center, stopping at a fun little tapas bar to taste some local Languedoc-Roussillon wines.
I ordered a rose and Il Ragazzo tried a local fizz called Blanquette de Limoux. At first sniff it threw us both. After tasting he commented on its cider characteristics. Hmmm…suddenly, the light bulb went on (for him, I’m not that good), “I bet it’s méthode ancestrale.” Me: “Huh?” Our server confirmed his suspicions – and was as impressed as me at Il Ragazzo’s wine skills.
What is méthode ancestrale? The wine undergoes a single fermentation and is aged approximately three months less (than the traditional champagne method) on the lees before the bottling.
We nibbled on tapas of local calamari in tomato sauce and a local sausage with onions. Il Ragazzo lit up when he tasted his sparkling with the sausage. There is so much truth to pairing regional wines and food.
Try it! Marcar Tapas Bar. Hours: 8 a.m. to 2 a.m. Thursday to Tuesday (Closed Wednesday). Address: 21 Cours de la République, 11100 Narbonne, France
After our snack we meandered around the town, taking in the beautiful architecture, the cathedral, the canal – so much to see and so different from Italy.
Day 2: Narbonne Pictures
I started the morning with a run along Canal de la Robine, which flows through the town’s center. The work on the canal started in the 16th century and was a significant investment for the city. The people of Narbonne were determined to maintain a link to major trade operations.
We drove about an hour from Narbonne to see the fortified Cité de Carcassonne; it’s certainly an impressive sight, but we were both let down when we walked into the walls. It was like a Medieval Disneyland with trinket shops, touristy restaurants, and people who just weren’t paying attention. It lacked authenticity, which was disappointing given the history.
Day 2 Vineyard Stop: Narbonne Pictures
On the drive back to Narbonne we stopped along the country road to inspect one of the many vineyards that dot the landscape. The old, bushy vines of the Languedoc are not at all orderly and refined like we see in Piedmont.
Day 2 Wine Tasting: Narbonne Pictures
Our wine tasting was at Les Clos Perdus, which is located in un petit village of Peyriac-de-Mer, just 10 minutes from Narbonne. The village offers seaside walks, vineyard views, and relaxing medieval charm. We’re already plotting our return to the area and we plan to rent a place in this village.
Owners Paul and Hugo came to the region excited to make wine in a less restrictive area with great potential. The Australian and British transplants bought up disregarded vineyards from larger producers, creating Les Clos Perdus, Lost Vineyards. Il Ragazzo had tasted the wines years ago at a tasting in England. So, here we were in this sleepy village preparing to taste our way through about seven of eight of their wines. They were spectacular. And, the conversation was fascinating. For more info on the winery, check back in a couple weeks – I’ll do a bigger piece on the wine tasting, the winery, and the winemaking philosophy. It was fantastic!
Day 2 Dinner: Narbonne Pictures
After a great afternoon of wine tasting we scooted back to Narbonne to find a local seafood dinner, starting with oysters!
Our main courses included mussels with frites, and cod. Everything was incredible.
A Few More Narbonne Pictures:
Front view of the Narbonne Cathedral.
We happened upon a dance lesson at a street-side bar. Some interesting characters!
That’s it for now.
Au revoir! V-dawg OUT.
Song Pick! The Only One, Yael Naïm
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Got some tips on the South of France and the Languedoc? Drop a note!