The Good Life France Magazine

The Good Life France Magazine brings you the best of France - inspirational and exclusive features, fabulous photos, mouth-watering recipes, tips, guides, ideas and much more...

Published by the award winning team at The Good Life France

1 year ago

Autumn 2022

Discover Aix, the ‘Little Paris’ of Provence, the historic region of Beaune, a land of wine and castles. Beautiful Bordeaux and Normandy. The stork villages of Alsace and the pickled-in-the-past, post-card pretty perched town of Saint-Guilhem-le-Desert. Breath-taking Lavender fields in Provence, castles in the air in Dordogne. Exquisite Villefranche-sur-Mer and Nice. Discover what’s new, the best tours, recipes, a language lesson, practical guides and much, much more…

along the coast and the

along the coast and the weather is usually so mild that eating Christmas lunch outside is not unknown! And it’s well connected too, for in 1839 the Montpellier-Séte railway was opened, connecting the port to the ancient city just 10 kms inland. Discover Montpellier Montpellier is home to one of the oldest universities in the world as well as the oldest medical school still in operation. Past alumnae include Petrarch, Rabelais and Nostradamus. Sète Montpellier remains a leading university town – it’s estimated as many as a third of its residents are students, and it has a rich cultural life dating back centuries. The city was called Monspessulanus by the Romans. It survived Cathars and wars of religion, and became part of Aragon when Marie of Montpellier brought the city with her as part of her dowry when she married Peter II of Aragon. It became a major economic centre and primary source for the spice trade in France. In the 14 th century Sète passed to James III of Majorca who then sold it to the French crown to raise money for a war back in the 14 th century. Montpellier the boats – all dressed in white. On-board, bands of pipers and drummers knock out a beat to encourage each boat forward. Like an orchestrated ballet, boats pass each other seven times while, at the same time, huge brass bands blast forth to excite and encourage spectators lining the quay. As boats get closer the first jouster picks up the shield and jousting pole and tries to dislodge the opposition boat’s jouster from their platform. Naturally there’s great applause when anyone falls into the canal! As with any self-respecting sport there are different categories. Children start learning from the age of 10. And there’s a junior division for the under 21’s. But, the most prestigious competition is the heavyweight (anyone over 88 kg in weight) and this is considered the Blue Ribbon event! It all culminates with the feast of St Louis (the patron saint of Sète). A carnival lasting several days is held in mid to late August which bears the grandiose title of ‘World Championship’. Jousts are well attended and it’s best to book a seat on the temporary stands to get a good view. Or better still watch from a table at one of the many restaurants which line the sides of the Royal Canal. The finest seafood, local wine and unmatched entertainment – it’s a pretty unbeatable combination. Sète however is far more than just ‘world headquarters’ for water jousting, it has an extremely pretty marina and busy port. There are wonderful sandy beaches which run all When Louis XIV made Sète the capital of Bas Languedoc, the town became ever more important and grew accordingly. Parts of its historic centre date back to this time including the Promenade de Peyrou and Esplanade. Its position on hilly ground just inland with abundance of year round sunshine and sea breezes made perfect growing conditions for the vines. This made its citizens very wealthy and they built grand houses and upgraded their living conditions – until phylloxera killed the vines off in the 1890s. Modern grafting methods have overcome the vine disease and today the city is once more surrounded by vineyards and garrigue (Mediterranean scrubland). All around in the hills of the Hérault there are charming villages and small market towns. Montpellier 104 | The Good Life France The Good Life France | 105