Autumn is a fantastic time to visit the Languedoc-Roussillon, Occitanie. The stifling heat of summer gives way to a comfortable warmth with temperatures a very pleasant 20 to 25 °c and the air becomes much clearer. It’s superb weather for walking and cycling, and is often still warm enough to be out in just a shirt until November.
The Languedoc in Autumn is buzzing with activity and colour as the grape harvest gets under way. This is not only one of the largest wine regions in the world but it is also one of the most diverse in terms of grape varieties available. So each vine variety has leaves that turn a different colour, washing the rolling fields in a stunning combination of reds, oranges, russets, browns and golds. It is in some ways the most beautiful season.
The Wine Harvest
The grape harvest in Languedoc can start very early, at the end of August for the white grape varieties that ripen first. Depending on the weather it can spread until October for later grape varieties such as Mourvèdre. This is a fragile grape variety that needs sun and ripens slowly. Autumn is the perfect time to enjoy a walk around the vineyards or to go for a tasting in a wine cellar, where you will meet enthusiastic, passionate wine-growers.
Each village will have their own celebrations of the wine harvest and many offer wine walks and festivals during this time. There are tastings for the ‘vins primeurs’, wines fresh off of the press. Light and fruity, low in alcohol that give a nod to the vintage to come. In the Corbières there is even a 50 – 70km ‘Vin Primeur Randonnée’, a bike ride visiting five wine caves to taste their new wines and enjoy a ‘casse-croûte’ (snack).
A Foodie’s Paradise
Autumn in the Languedoc is also a foodie’s paradise – it’s the best season for enjoying traditional hearty French foods, such as cassoulet, stew, and confit. And also a time of bounty of many fruits and vegetables. Figs, grapes, olives, nectarines and plums abound, and the walnut, hazelnut and almonds trees creak under the weight of their fruit. Autumn is also the season for mushrooms; up in the hills of the Black Mountains and the Pyrenees, those that are in the know gather wild ceps, girolles and chanterelles.
There are local celebrations for apples, onions, figs, chestnuts, chocolate and foie gras.
Fresh Local Produce
Wherever you are in the Languedoc, you will find a unique local gastronomic tradition. It is a true gourmet paradise!
On the Carlencas plateau, growing and eating chickpeas is a tradition that goes back for many generations. Seedlings are planted out around Easter, and the chickpeas are picked at the end of the summer, often being eaten during autumn’s religious festivals such as All Saints’ Day.
The chestnuts of Olargues have a long-established reputation: so much so that some of the major luxury confectioners use them for their famous chestnut purees and other specialities.
If the vine is queen of the plains of the Languedoc, then the age-old olive tree is their king. The famous Lucques olives, so plump and fleshy, and olive products such as tapenade and olive oil, are sure to delight you, offering up the very essence of the Mediterranean, unspoilt and authentic. A short drive from Montouliers is L’Oulibo, an olive oil co-operative created in 1942, where you can buy various types of olive oil, tapenade, olive pureé, olives kept in oil or brine, plus some fantastic beauty products including body oils, moisturiser, hand creams and soaps. And in late autumn you can see the olives being carefully harvested.
And did you know? The highly sought-after spice saffron is grown in the Hérault area. Harvesting takes place between October and November
The months of September, October and November can be a truly splendid time to enjoy the beauty and produce of this stunning region without the crowds and sometimes stifling heat of the summer.
If you want to take advantage of this incredible time of year have a look at our Autumn Special Offer