TO KNOW | LA RAMONETA OF THE MONTH
Every month, we introduce you to an interesting woman living in Languedoc. Curious as we are, we like to find out why they are living in this beautiful region, what they do for a living and some of their Languedoc favourites. This month we would like you to meet Anita Forte as Ramoneta of the Month.
I’m Anita and I live near Béziers with my husband, three children, two dogs and five chickens. We moved here from Dublin where I was a child psychologist and my husband was a banking consultant. We moved to the Languedoc region in summer 2006 and never looked back!
First time in the region
I remember coming to the region for the first time very well. It was the winter of 2005, and I was quite heavily pregnant. My husband, Karl, had already done a bit of property development in the area with my father and wanted to show me how beautiful it was and to see if I would consider living here for a couple of years.
Over a long weekend, we drove through the Corbières, strolled around Béziers, explored Pézenas, Narbonne and Sète and even made it to Cap d’Agde and Bouzigues. It was winter, and it was cold, but I was still blown away by the beauty of the region.
Settling in Languedoc
Everyone I know who comes to visit us wants to live here! It really is a beautiful part of the world. I felt that it would be a fabulous opportunity for us as a family to be more outdoors, in a sunnier, healthier, warmer climate and to be in the countryside where there is space to play, explore and do lots of sport.
Living in a city with young children was hectic, expensive, noisy and busy and we had one daughter with asthma and the other with endless bronchitis. I really thought that a move to this region was going to be good for them health-wise, and it was!
Karl was tired of the world of finance and wanted to pursue his dream of finding old forgotten magical properties and bringing them back to life. The Languedoc is full of the most magnificent châteaux dotted all over the landscape, so we thought this was the perfect area to try it out, renovating châteaux while living a better life in the sunny south of France.
Living in Languedoc
There are so many good reasons to live here, but I’ll try and keep it short!
The climate is fantastic, we have all of the seasons, but they feel more intense. Summer is hot and the winter is cold, but the spring and the autumn are so beautiful in colour and nature that its easily understandable why some of the best artists in the world painted around here. In the spring and summer, we have the beaches with beach bars and restaurants. Kids and adults can go sailing (1), kitesurfing, windsurfing, paddle boarding etc. In the winter, we have skiing in the Pyrenees, just two hours away.
Sport is very affordable here, so kids can really do as much as they want. Our kids do horse-riding, tennis, dance, sailing, volleyball and rugby, but all sports are available for all ages, and all of them are outdoors under a beautiful blue sky.
Then, there is obviously the incredible food and wine. I can’t describe how good they are, you will have to come and taste them for yourselves and eating out isn’t expensive!
Also, I have to mention the people. I live near Béziers and I cannot believe how warm and kind the people have been to us from the beginning. They have big hearts, love a party (check out the Béziers Feria) and a good chat! We couldn’t have built our business without their help and friendship.
Châteaux Les Carrasses (2) and St Pierre de Serjac (3)
Les Carrasses and St Pierre de Serjac are beautiful old renovated châteaux with stunning views over the vines and countryside. They are on old wine domaines, and Bonfils (our business partner) makes the wine from the vines surrounding them. We have hotel rooms, entire private houses with private pools to rent, a restaurant, a bar, a large communal pool in each domaine and Serjac also has a fabulous spa and a seminar center.
We have put our hearts and souls into bringing these majestic buildings back to life and have done our best to bring them back to their former glory. To get a better idea of them visit the websites!
Setting up businesses in France
Besides learning the language, you have to embrace the French system and all of the administration that comes with it. We have a wonderful team of staff in both châteaux, but it has taken time to build a solid team and recruitment can be a challenge.
Best Languedoc wine
I absolutely love Languedoc wine! I have so many favourites that I don’t know where to start. There is such an incredible variety of wine here that there is really a wine for everyone’s taste. If I was forced to choose only three then they would be:
Oros Rouge, Château Capitoul – Domaine Bonfils
Château les Auzines, Corbières – Laurent Miquel
Sonatina, Domaine St Cecile du Parc – Christine Mouton-Bertoli
But the icing on the cake for us, in our business, is that we have our own delicious wine, so I am always delighted to drink La Serre from Les Carrasses and the rosé from Serjac.
I honestly love eating in our own restaurants, our chef Valere at Carrasses (4) is so talented that it is truly a joy to eat there. We have a new chef at Serjac and so far so good, but I think that I’m going to have to take up a new sport as I can’t refuse the divine desserts!
With the kids, we love going for pizza at Les Trois Arches on the Rue Viennet or to La Charnière for a burger.
Perfect day out in the Languedoc?
Oh wow, what a fun question, where do I start? To set the scene it would be springtime, I would go to Vendres Plage and go paddle boarding in the morning sun, then return home and take the dogs for a walk through the vineyards and down the Canal du Midi.
I’d stop for a coffee at the Neuf Ecluses (it’s an incredible site), and then head into les Allées Paul Riquet in Béziers to pick up some plants or flowers at the flower market (every Friday morning).
Maybe a bite to eat with friends on the terrace of the Chameau Ivre and then a stroll through the boutiques of the rue 4 Septembre and all of the little cobbled lanes that run off from it. To continue this dream day, I would then go to our spa with some friends and enjoy a hammam, sauna and maybe a massage!
If Béziers had a rugby match on then, we would all go as a family. It has a great atmosphere and the kids can find their friends and run around and we can have a glass of wine with friends and shout our support for Béziers.
To end the perfect day, dinner with my husband in one of the many restaurants that I’ve mentioned and then maybe a little stroll to ‘La Nuit des Halles’ (the covered food market) for a digestive.