Un petit soujourn en Languedoc

Since I'm heading Down Under indefinitely next month, my dad wanted to see me before I headed off so this week I went over to France for a few days.  It was a laidback trip, but the weather was beautiful and I visited a couple of new places, so here's a mini post on my new discoveries.

La Couvertoirade is a medieval walled town north of Languedoc in the Midi-Pyrénées region.  Like St-Guilhem-le-Désert and Pézenas, it is filled with little cafes and ateliers, and is a little bit of a tourist trap, but for good reason.  The windmill sitting behind the village is an interesting site commanding picturesque views, and the 11th century church and graveyard are also worth a look - the discoid graves are a bit of a mystery to historians, although appear to have had a strong meaning to the Cathars who once lived in the region.

Palavas-les-Flots is near the regional capital of Montpellier and is not the architectural treasure of the medieval towns that scatter the countryside but is an enjoyable seaside town.  There's a strong Catalan influence, being just around the coast from Spain, with most of the restaurants serving a Frenchified version of tapas and sangria.  It's a good place for cheap and tasty dishes like moules et frites, or for activities like parasailing (which I've done elsewhere and is fuuuun).  The beach itself was a bit blah, but more of a locals spot than a tourist spot so at least you can find space to set up.

And last but not least: the wine!  It was the time for the vintage, when the wine growers pick their crop, so the fields were bustling (as much as anything ever bustles around here).  The vineyard pictured is that of my dad's doctor, and on the night of my arrival we drank a bottle of his wine which was given as a gift (Trois Terres 2010), which had been left to breathe for a couple of hours while Dad picked me up and was a lovely deep red, perfect accompaniment to the beef and beer stew that was dinner.  Highlights of the trip were the usual: my dad's amazing cooking, the gorgeous local wine, the beautiful Lac du Salagou, and weirdly enough...a night-time rainbow.  Wish I'd got a picture because nobody believed me but my dad and his missus will testify it's true!  Better look up how that's scientifically possible actually, although either way it was quite lovely.

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