TO KNOW | LA RAMONETA OF THE MONTH
© Ken Payton
We hereby proudly present to you a new monthly column: La Ramoneta of the Month. Every month, we will select 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. Louise Hurren has been nominated as our first Ramoneta of the Month.
I’m a UK-born marketing communications consultant, living in Montpellier. My background is in advertising and PR, and wine is my specialist subject. My work involves lots of different things: organising press trips for journalists, writing wine and travel articles for magazines, translating for wineries, and teaching English to trainee wine growers and marketing students at the University of Montpellier. I also manage a Facebook page called Languedoc e-greeters. This interactive page features personal tips about all the great things one can enjoy in the South of France. I enjoy the variety of my work, and the fact that it often involves travelling in Languedoc or further afield.
First time in the region
I was 18 when I came to Languedoc for the very first time: I had a Summer job on a campsite in La Grande Motte (1). I got off the train in Montpellier and was amazed by the sight of palm trees and a bright blue sky. The fine, golden, sandy beaches and funky architecture of La Grande Motte surprised me too. It was a total contrast to the seaside town of Brighton, where I grew up.
Living in Languedoc
I’ve lived in Languedoc since 2002. My degree was in French and Italian, and I’d spent some time living and working in Paris before moving to France permanently. Montpellier (2) feels like home now.
© Lucie Dalichoux
Montpellier is dynamic: it’s got a university and a large student population which helps keep things forward-looking. You can find plenty of contemporary culture here – there are all kinds of festivals and events, lots of contemporary art, dance and music, plus art house cinemas and theatres. Montpellier is one of France’s fastest growing cities and it’s vibrant. After twenty years of living in London, I wanted a city that was manageable in size, but still lively. I love being close to the sea and to vineyards, but ultimately I prefer to live in a city.
Best part of living in this area
For me, a major advantage to living in Montpellier is the weather. Another big plus is being really close to the coast and the countryside. I can drive to the beach in 15 minutes, or be walking in a vineyard in less than an hour. It’s usually dry and quite warm, so it’s easy to spend a lot of time outdoors. As a result, I do far more sport and outdoor activities than I did when I lived in London.
Promoting the region
The various things I do to earn a living are all connected to wine and/or to the Languedoc area. When you find something you enjoy, you want to tell other people about it. So doing my job comes quite naturally: I actually enjoy sharing information, and there’s definitely an increasing interest in Languedoc and its wines, so it all works out rather well.
Discovering Languedoc wines
One of the great things about wines from Languedoc-Roussillon is that there’s just so much diversity. It’s a huge region where many different grape varieties can be grown successfully, with all kinds of expression depending on where and how you grow them. Those grapes can be made into wines which might be dry or sweet, still or sparkling, red, white or rosé: together, Languedoc and Roussillon pretty much cover all the bases. On top of that, the wines from this region are very affordable, so you get great value for your money.
© Gaylord Burguiere
Best Languedoc wine
The sheer diversity makes it impossible to choose a favourite wine, but there are certain appellations which I like to keep my eye on: Terrasses du Larzac, Faugères, Saint-Chinian (3) and La Clape are just four I could name. And that’s just in Languedoc: Roussillon deserves more attention than it currently gets.
Right now, my favourite restaurant in Montpellier is Comme un Dimanche Sous le Figuier (4). It’s intimate and friendly, with funky decor, right in the historic centre. They offer (in their own words) “vins et barbecue méditerranéens”. In other words: plenty of grilled meat and fish, and a very interesting choice of wines from smaller, artisan growers that you don’t tend to find in other restaurants.
Perfect day out in Languedoc
It would be a choice between the coast and countryside. In Summer, I like to go to the beach very early in the morning, or head to a river or lake further inland and spend some time reading and swimming. I’d happily end the day watching the sun go down over the Bassin de Thau, tucking into seafood at an oyster shack with a bottle of chilled rosé. At other times of the year, I’d opt for a hike or horseback ride in the countryside (the Cévennes National Park is only an hour’s drive from where I live) and a simple picnic lunch, with food bought locally. The Sunday morning market in Saint-Chinian is very colourful, and eating outdoors is always special. Staying overnight at the Auberge du Cèdre in Lauret would be a great way to end a perfect day. It’s a charming, friendly place in the Pic Saint-Loup area, surrounded by vineyards, with an excellent local wine list.