Exploring this Region of France
The Rough Guide to Languedoc - Roussillon calls Pézenas, “One of the most singularly beautiful towns in the French Southwest, endowed with an overwhelming concentration of grand architecture”. Thanks to Armand de Bourbon, Prince of Conti, Pézenas was considered the “second Versailles” in the late 17th century. This drew wealth, artists and playwrights of the caliber of Moliere all seeking to gain favor and patronage from the court.
Today, Pézenas has an incredibly well preserved Old Town filled with outdoor restaurants, artisans, and entertainment. Seasonal festivals, celebrations and a huge Saturday market take place year-round in Pézenas and it’s neighbouring villages. Located in the middle of the largest wine growing region in all of France, and less than a half hour drive from the Mediterranean beaches. Simple pleasures are abound.
With so many things to see and do in the Languedoc-Roussilon, Pézenas is ideally situated. The town of Pézenas itself is beautiful and vibrant. From buying bread and tasty treats at the local boulangerie, people watching at a one of the town’s outdoor cafés, or exploring one of the many antique shops (Brocantes), Pézenas has so much to offer. The Old Town is rich with history and fine architecture, and full of unique artisan shops and fine restaurants. What’s more, Pézenas has one of the best year-round Saturday Markets in the area. All of this and more is steps away from Les Appartement des Artistes.
Obviously, the longer you stay at one of Les Appartements des Artistes, the more you can see. In general, our guests stay for one-two weeks. They divide their time between exploring Pezenas and visiting nearby sites. We strongly recommend that our guests visit the Office de Tourism in Pezenas. The are a wonderful resource for visitors, and speak several languages. Whatever you wish to visit, they will have advice for you.
In general, a typical week stay in Pezenas could include a shopping in the Old Town, and doing the Self-Guided Historical Walk which can be obtained at the Office de Tourism. It is easy to follow and very interesting. If you are travelling with a family, you can make finding all of the points of interest into a game, as 3/4 of the tour is in a traffic free part of town. The Saturday Market just steps from the apartments, which is a real highlight for most guests. During the summer months, Pezenas celebrates! Friday Nights are Estival nights. Essentially the local winemakers and food vendors set up booths, and the city closes down Rue Jean Juares filling it with picnic tables and live music. Pay 5 euros for a glass and 2 degustations of wine, purchase some food and find a spot at a picnic table and enjoy. Wednesdays and Friday nights also are Nocturnes in the summer. This means that all of the shops in the Old Town (and restaurants) stay open until midnight. These events are very popular. Pezenas does return to to it's slower pace during the rest of the week; find a spot in one of the many cafés in town; and have a pause café. Many cafés will permit you to bring a pastry or croissant to eat at your table. Sit as long as you want, there is no rush.
During a week-long visit, our guests visit various sites. These are the main sites most visited: A day of visiting Saint-Guilhem-le-Désert, les Grottes de Clamouse and Pont de Diable (40 minutes away). Carcassonne (1.5 hours away), Uzes, Pont de Gard and Nimes (2-2.5 hours away).Some guests use the region for hiking and cycling. During the summer, we always go Canoing along the Herault River. We prefer to use CanoeRapido, which operates out of St. Guilhem-le-desert. It is 12 kms of fun. Make sure you bring a picnic , water and sunscreen. Renting bicycles in town is also easy to do. Please read our blog for more ideas. We haven't done everything, and we are always ready to share our experiences.
Of course if you visit during the summer months, the beaches are a highlight. There are hundreds of kilometres of beaches that stretch the entire coastline. For a more thorough account of the beaches, follow this link. Some of the finest beaches in Southern France are a short drive away, but there is so much more to this area than sun and sand. Incredible sites like Le Pont de Gard, the medeval ramparts of Carcassonne, or visiting cities like Montpellier, Narbonne, Beziers, Nimes and Arles. These all make wonderful day-trips from Pézenas. Truly, there are so many things to see and do. You will need more than a week just to scratch the surface of this enchanting region.
David & Holly have really put a lot of thought into what visitors will need. There were plenty of hooks for coats and towels. The kitchen was well equipped, a wooden baguette bowl and wine bottle opener at the ready! Also, shopping bags for a run downstairs to the SPAR market or CarreFour down the road for a big shop, plenty of guide books and other entertainment. Lastly, just wanted to mention the artwork on the walls. Fantastic paintings of the area. Not sure why I didn't put 2+2 together before we arrived that this is the home of an artist, so naturally it's filled with art! But this artist must be both right and left brained because it was an aesthetically pleasing yet super organized flat.