With comfortable double bed, quality furnishings and bed linen, and pretty shuttered window onto a balcony overlooking the rooftops, this room exudes rural French charm. A private WC and shower room is across the hallway. Cont. breakfast included.
Aspiran village dates back to the 12th century, and much of it still protected by the original stone ramparts. But it is very much a working village, and is exceptionally well-provisioned, with a bakery, bar/café/restaurant, grocery store, pharmacy, tabac, hairdresser and even a library set around the plane tree-shaded village square. The vine-covered hillsides surrounding the village leave you in no doubt that you are in the heart of the Languedoc-Roussillon wine region; very drinkable locally produced wine can be bought at the cellar doors of an impressive range of winemakers – some within walking distance of the house. Over the last decade or so there have been some very interesting new wines appearing in Languedoc-Roussillon.
Only a kilometre, or short bike ride, from the house, the river Herault opens as wide as a small lake as it winds its way lazily out towards the Mediterranean, and little ‘river beaches’ dot its banks; perfect for lazy afternoons swimming, sunning, fishing or dozing. Twenty kilometres upstream, the river offers the adventurous an opportunity to kayak down its rapids as it cuts through some stunning gorges and flows under ancient stone bridges.
About 25 minutes drive away; just beyond the pleasant town of Clermont L’Herault (with its excellent Wednesday market) is the Lac de Salagou where sailing, windsurfing and swimming can be enjoyed. The picturesque hillsides surrounding the lake are very popular and well-signed for mountain biking, horse-riding and walking trails. The popular antiques centre, Pezenas (15km), has a very good local market on Saturdays and is a lovely place to wander in the early evenings, with its rabbit-warren of tiny lanes lined with local craft shops and some interesting restaurants (tapas in the shady garden at Les Marronniers is recommended).
The coastal towns of Agde (home of the region’s largest water park, Aqualand), Cap d’Agde and Sete (sailing), Marseillan and Bouzigues (Oyster and mussel farming), the long white beaches of the Mediterranean and the wild landscape of the Camargue are all under an hour’s drive away. The vibrant university city of Montpellier, with its maze of ancient narrow lanes brimming with fascinating places to shop and dine, is only 40 minutes away. Montpellier also has a remarkably efficient electric tram system, so you can park and ride without the worry of navigating the city centre. And slightly further afield, but still within easy reach, are the mysterious and legendary Cathar Castles of Peyrepertuse, Queribus, Montségur and Carcassonne.
Going north, you will find some lovely ancient villages – such as St Guilhem le Desert, with its beautiful Benedictine abbey. Millau Viaduct – the world’s highest , at 350m – is one hour’s drive north up the A75, and well worth the trip. And there are some unique natural sites not to be missed; the Cirque de Navacelles and the Cirque de Moureze are both well worth a visit, as are the caves at Demoiselle, Clamouse and Labeil. Put on your walking shoes, pack a picnic and your swimmers and explore!
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I'm British and after living in Singapore for the last 15 years, moved permanently to our lovely home in France in July 2015. I am a mother of two boys (22 and 18 years) and an editor by trade. I love independent travel and getting under the skin of the places I visit. Really enjoy meeting new people, taking photographs and learning new things about the world. No favourite destinations really - can't think of the last time I DIDN'T like a place I've travelled to.