Tourism around wine Patrimoine: petits joyaux à découvrir

Hidden treasure

Deep in the heart of the Languedoc, in the middle valley of the Hérault , ten wine producers deeply in love with their land enourage you to spend some time exploring the area they know so well. Their passion will show through as they tell you the story behind the Clairette du Languedoc. It’s the smallest, oldest vineyard in the Languedoc set in superb countryside scattered with travellers’ chapels and ‘capitelles’ – tiny, stone shepherds’ huts. They will lead you through the gentle valleys and high plateaux which hold no secrets from them. They will delight in confiding their friendly addresses, and waken your senses to the local gastronomy and the tastiest wines of their appellation: the Clairette du Languedoc, a white wine produced from a unique grape variety, the white Clairette. A selection of their absolute favourites.

Heritage : Gems to discover

Adissan, the cradle of Clairette du Languedoc

Recognized as the cradle of Clairette du Languedoc, Adissan is well placed half way between Lake Salagou and Pézenas. A typical Hérault village full of wine producers’ houses, it’s worth visiting the 14th century Gothic church, the Place du Griffe and the chapel of La Roque in its own pine grove. Taste the Adissan Clairette at the Cave Cooperative. Cave coopérative d’Adissan - Tél. : 04 67 25 01 07

Cabrières, at the heart of the garrigue

The caveau of the cave cooperative has a museum space dedicated to the geology of the mountains around Cabrières as well as its archeological history (copper mines whose first traces date back to 3000 BCE). Exhibitions  based on other themes are also set up. At some 4 kilometres from the village, the hamlet of Crozes has a great collection of houses built from schist or travertine limestone rock. The 10th century Saint-Martin de Crozes church with its pentagonal apse is truly a jewel among Languedoc romanesque churches.

Fontès,  the medieval

The Saint-Hippolyte church came into being during the 14th century. The décor of the nave is based on fascinating excerpts from the book of Daniel. Well worth seeing are the baptismal fonts installed between baroque 17th century columns. It’s worth a meander along the medieval lanes around the old castle which dominates the Boyne valley. Guided visits during July and August.

Aspiran, through history to the present

Aspiran is a delightful Hérault village sheltering many remains from the middle ages. It’s well worth visiting the 14th century church, the 15th century Chapel of the Penitents, the house of correction.  Archeological digs have uncovered the remains of a gallo-roman villa with its huge cellars which housed 155 dolia (huge ceramic containers). It’s one of the largest villas of the type discovered up ‘til now.

Saint-Guilhem-le-Désert, gem of romanesque art

Not far from the Clairette du Languedoc terroir, at the heart of  the Hérault gorges, the narrow winding lanes of the mediaeval city of Saint-Guilhelm-le-Désert have  been stretching out  for twelve  centuries  along the green covered banks of the  undulating Verdus stream. The terraced houses, crowned by sun-baked tiles and the weight of years may not all be unique but they all carry traces of their past: arcades, lintels, twinned windows... Developed around the Abbey of Gellone, the village has retained a strong mediaeval flavour in one of the Languedoc’s rarest and most harmonious settings.  It has been labelled a ‘Grand Site de France’ and is one of the most beautiful villages in the country.  The abbey has been declared a World Heritage site by Unesco partly due to its proximity to the pilgrim trails leading to Saint Jacques de Compostelle. Office de Tourisme Intercommunal Saint-Guilhem-le-Désert - Vallée de l'Hérault - 34150 Gignac - Tél. : 04 67 57 58 83 - www.saintguilhem-valleeherault.fr

Fun in the vines

Adissan

June : for several years, Adissan, the centre of Clairett, has been celebrating Occitan culture and tradition : writers, concerts, theatre, exhibitions, gastronomic events and wine tasting all  feature during these cultural days.

July: every third week-end in July, the  3-day village fête takes place. On the programme: shows, meals and an evening dedicated to the tasting of the Clairette d’Adissan. Mairie d'Adissan – Tél. : 04 67 25 01 12 - Office de Tourisme Pézenas Val d'Hérault - Tél. : 04 67 98 36 40 - www.ot-pezenas-valdherault.com

Cabrières

July & August : each summer the Cabrières  cave cooperative, L’Estabel,  organizes open days (between 14 and 20 July and around 15 August). Visitors are offered free tastings of the Clairette de Cabrières. There are evening dances with drinks and food.

La Bissounnade: in July, l’Estabel also organises the Bissounnade. This ramble around wine  includes climbing the Pic Vissou, a meal at the summit and descent at dusk. Every year between 100 and 150 visitors join the cave’ wine producers to share a convivial moment time around the Clairette de L’Estabel - Tél. : 04 67 88 91 60 - www.cabrieres.com

Pézenas, the town of Molière

Pézenas has a rich heritage. Town of markets and once seat of the region’s  government , it was home to Molière’s illustrious theatre. Today, the historic town centre still reflects the charm of its large 17th and 18th century private homes,  paved streets and 16th century bourgeois houses  encircle   the ‘Maison Consulaire’, ancient seat of municipal power. Its religious heritage also deserves a visit: the old chapelle des Pénitents Noirs, transformed into a theatre in the 19th century, the Chapelle du Couvent des Ursulines with its notable furniture, and the Collégiale St-Jean whose ‘treasures’ hail  from the town’s churches. Art festivals, theatre, dance, music, art exhibitions take place from May to October. Creative artisans are busy all year round in their workshops. It is good to stroll through the street of this charming town. Office de Tourisme Pézenas Val d'Hérault - Tél. : 04 67 98 36 40 - www.ot-pezenas-valdherault.com

Capitelles, mills and lime kilns

The Mediterranean landscape around the banks of the Hérault river has been fashioned over the centuries by vineyards and olive groves.  As they enjoy a huge range of walks, visitors will  discover the typical farmhouses and stone huts erected by wine producer and shepherds : ancient buildings that have modelled the landscape.

They are witness to an important vine-growing and pastoral activity. The heritage path of the Pioch de Jaffet was put in place by the council of Cabrières, the cave cooperative l’Estabel, and the Friends of Cabrières. Punctuated by panels of view points and orientation tables, this path is well sign-posted for hikers. Delightful  walk s  allow ramblers to discover the natural and human heritage of the area around  Cabrières. There is also a scenic path around the Pioch of Jaffet and a side itinerary called the ‘walk round the mines. (Sentier minier). This walk starts at the ‘caveau muséographique’ of Cabrières’ cave cooperative. A suggested itinerary is available from the Cabrières Cave Cooperative. L’Estabel - Tél. : 04 67 88 91 60 - www.cabrieres.com

Also : ‘Jeannot’s walk’ starting from Nizas. Office de Tourisme de Pézenas-Val d’Hérault – Tél. : 04 67 98 36 40 - www.pezenas-tourisme.fr

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