TO DO | SHOPPING
What better way to get to know a city than through its food? If you’re looking to taste the good life of Montpellier, join Marine Dromard and her Food Tour. She will show you a different Montpellier, discovering some treasures of French gastronomy. No matter if you’re visiting for the first time, or maybe the 100th, you still will be surprised!
I meet the charming Marine at the Arc de Triomphe. From here, it is a short walk to our first culinary address. “Le Panier d’Aimé” is a landmark in Montpellier. I feel like I’m in culinary heaven! Food lovers James and his wife Nathalie run this gourmet delicatessen store. And they know good food! Mostly locally produced food that is. James tells me that he and his family personally tasted every single product in the shop. For your information: they sell over 2,700 products… From the grassiest olive oil to local wines and from the sweetest honey to the best tapenades. And all in between. Be warned: it’s impossible to leave this shop without buying anything.
Our next stop is “Le Chai Castel’âne”. This caviste collects and sells some of the finest Languedoc wines. Although it’s 11 o’clock in the morning, we have to taste some of the local juice. When in France, do as the French do and since I’m here, I’m having a sip of three very different wines. To my shame, I am still no wine connoisseur, even after living in France for about ten years. But I do know a good wine when I taste one. And at Le Chai Castel’âne I tasted three good ones!
Another discovery are the fantastic cakes of Monsieur Bruno Liégard. He welcomes us in full regalia, wearing an impressive chef’s hat. I like to bake cakes myself, but these cakes are of a whole other level. The displayed patisserie is mouth-watering. And all my favourites are there: chocolate cakes in every flavour, lemon meringue pie and raspberry tartelettes. The best part is that I can taste some of these delicacies. I can tell you that they don’t only look good, they taste even better.
On our way to the fourth tasting, we pass through the historical heart of Montpellier. Le Marché Local lies in a labyrinth of little streets, but luckily Marine is there to show me the way. Inside this small grocery shop, you feel the love in every displayed product. Dorian Oulaidi makes sure that the products he sells are locally produced with heart. We taste a few examples of this: smoked tomatoes, local blue cheese and goats cheese wrapped in finely cut eschalot. It’s surprising how much flavour tickles my tasted buds with these simple ingredients.
Last stop of the day is at the fish stand of Mélissa Coquillages. We happen to arrive just before lunchtime and Mélissa has prepared a plate full of the freshest seafood. When looking at her stand, I notice a strange looking rock shaped shell. It appears to be a “violet”, also known as sea fig or grooved sea squirt. Mélissa offers me to taste one of these local animals that only live in the Mediterranean Sea. Marine adds that you either love it or hate it, as the taste is very iodised. And you eat them raw, as in uncooked. Well, I don’t want to be a party pooper, so I have a go. It does taste quite alright actually and it sure is very local! After a nice lunch, I say au revoir to Marine. If you want to get to know a different side of Montpellier, I highly recommend doing a Food Tour with her. She is a true food expert and will show you lots of interesting addresses, run by regional food artisans.