The doors to Les Halles in Narbonne opened in 1901, on Cour Mirabeau facing the Canal de la Robine, and is something of an iconic landmark in the ancient city of Narbonne – First Daughter of Rome. It is here that one of the finest markets in southern France takes place every day of the week.
The list of producers and artisans to be found in Les Halles for a food lover reads a little like the 12 Days of Christmas : 10 butchers, 8 fruit & veg vendors, 7 herbs & spices sellers, 6 fishmongers… the list extends to some 70 stallholders ! And this is where we start our tour. A feast for the eyes, as well as the taste buds, we pay a visit to a ‘traiteur’ for olives, garlic confit, and anchoide tastings; then on to a cheesemonger where we’ll buy a couple of varieties of cheese to take with us to a honey producer, to experience a fabulous taste sensation !
Next stop is a little pre-lunch apéro… accompanied by a plate of fabulous charcuterie. Then we re-join our tour bus, and head down to the coast, passing the lagoons and inland waterways to reach our second stop – the salt pans at Gruissan.
Located at the water’s edge is both our destination for lunch, and the Salt Museum; lunch is a pescatarian’s delight. Oysters and shrimp served up with aioli and fresh bread, and followed by fish, baked in a salt crust and all washed down with a pichet of local white wine. We then stroll across to the salt museum, where amongst the list of little gifts to buy is salt, scented with herbs and spices, salted caramel, and even little salt pigs – how better to remember your day out when you’re back in your kitchen at home?
Back on the tour bus, and a short hop to a charming winery in the heart of the La Clape appellation where we learn all about the wines that grown on this stony land. The name of this appellation is La Clape which took its title from the old Occitan word for pile of stones; ‘clapas’ and that is what this land still looks like. It is one of the most highly regarded wine regions in the South of France and was once a small island in the Mediterranean Sea. They have been growing vines here for millennia and the wines were so highly prized by the Romans that they had them transported back to Rome to be enjoyed there too. During Romans times the waters that surrounded the island receded and it became linked to the mainland and in modern times was renamed The Massif de la Clape. It is exceptionally dry and breezy and is one of the sunniest areas in Occitanie. This intense Mediterranean climate helps to produce the exceptional wines we will learn about and taste on this Languedoc wine tour.
Today our visit is to one of the finest wineries in the region where we will taste both red and white wines. The white wines include an ancient grape called Bourboulenc which nearly disappeared but here is nurtured and blended with other varietals to produce some of the finest white wines in the South of France. After this visit we will head for the old circulade town of Gruissan to see the amazing landscape of the salt pans and learn how the salt is harvested.
This is a fabulous day in the Languedoc for foodies and wine lovers. Wine.. Salt.. Bread.. Fish.. plus a host of tasty treats along the way, it’s a Roman Holiday a la Francaise. If you prefer to skip the market and include a second winery instead just let us know.
Prices dependant on how many people are in your party:
Narbonne & Gruissan - Private Full Day Gourmet Tour - available Tuesday to Saturday
2 people - 325€ per person
6 people - 180€ per person
4 people - 200€ per person
8 people - 160€ per person
The price includes the knowledge and guidance of our expert food & wine guide, pickup and transport between Carcassonne and Narbonne, foodie tour & tastings around the market, seafood lunch with wine, visit to the salt museum and a winery visit & tasting.