The summer sun and colours are what draw the crowds to the south of France but it’s also lovely with plenty to see and admire in autumn says Honor Marks, an expat who lives in Languedoc Roussillon…
October already and hard to believe after the gorgeous summer we’ve had that its nearly December and Christmas will be upon us sooner than you can say ‘ooh la la’
As I live in the tiny winemaker’s village of Ferrals Les Corbieres I don’t have access to many great shops right on my doorstep but the fabulous cities of Narbonne and Carcassonne, Montpellier and Toulouse are close by and well worth a shopping trip.
Coming from South West London where every other shop was a chi chi gift shop selling Cath Kidston or designer lamps I was spoilt for choice for ideas. Here in the south of France I must be more resourceful, so it does mean I shop with more care and more inhibition! Not a bad thing for the wallet!
In October the sun is still shining and the temperature is warm enough to keep our pool open and it still feels like summer. The vendange (grape harvest) is in full swing even though we had had a little rain. I feel a bit guilty as I write this in my dry study knowing hundreds of locals are out there hard at work, all mucking in picking grapes… I will drink some wine later, you know, as support – then they will know their efforts weren’t for nothing!
October sees the annual Orchid Festival at the Abbey Fontfroide close by. The Abbey itself is privately owned but for a small fee, the public can take a small tour around the stunning cloisters and into the magnificent chapel with the most beautiful stained glass windows, and then out into the Rose Garden. I am always dying to look behind those locked medieval doors which only the owner or staff have privy too. What am I hoping to see? Medieval torture equipment? Sumptuous 4 poster beds and log fires and goat skin rugs? More likely a 53 inch screen Smart Plasma with surround sound and a Nespresso machine.
October is also the month of the biannual antiques market of Pézenas – a beautiful medieval village that curls around like a snail.
The city of Pézenas is renowned for its antiques and has almost fifty second-hand goods and antiques dealers present throughout the year. Twice a year, on the 1st Sunday in May and the 2nd Sunday in October, a ‘Grand Déballage’, a large second-hand market takes place and spreads out over almost a kilometre on the Nationale 113 road – the largest antiques fair in the south of France.
Here you can find stall upon stall of antiquities from furniture, old linen, jewellery, crockery, paintings, trinkets, watches, books and posters. Of you can find something a bit more bizarre and unusual – with hundreds of stalls to choose from you will find a lot of choice.
October in Languedoc Roussillon is sublime…
Honor Marks runs the Maison de La Roche, a once neglected wine domaine in Languedoc-Roussillon which has been bought back to life as gites.