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 Allison Lake from Atelier-Boutique 500 Degrés as Ramoneta of the Month.
Kent-born, I am originally British. I studied European Studies at the University of Manchester, and during the third year of my degree course I went to be an English assistant in a French Lycée near Avignon. It was quite difficult for me to tear myself away, as I immediately took to life in the South of France!
First time in the region
I have lived in Montpellier (1) since 1995. And I deliberately chose this city as I found it very attractive. With my qualifications to teach English, I wanted to work in a dynamic university city. Montpellier is perfect for that.
Settling in Languedoc
I have always felt comfortable with the size of Montpellier, and that appealed to me. Montpellier is rich in terms of higher education and research. Also, I feel that it has a lot to offer in terms of culture. On top of that, the city has a great geographical position with its proximity to both Spain and Italy. I enjoy the authenticity and simplicity of life in Montpellier, and there is excellent local produce and wine. We are spoilt for choice!
Living in the South of France
The climate and easy way of life are both important factors. The countryside around Montpellier is very beautiful, and there is a lot of choice and variety of places to visit. I have met so many people who are passionate about this region, and they are always delighted to share their knowledge. For history, culture, and gastronomy, I really feel that after 24 years of living here, I still have so much more to discover!
500 Degrés (2)
My partner Laurent created our pottery workshop and shop 500 Degrés in 2004. He has been a potter for the last 20 years. Laurent took a chance setting up the activity in the St Roch quarter because at that time it was much less chic and busy than it is today. We make everything by hand, using porcelain and stoneware, which are high-temperature clays and very resistant. All our products are for everyday use. We are very committed and passionate about our work and the principle of hand made objects. We have established partnerships with a number of regional restaurants, which has proved to be a rich exchange and a source of inspiration for our creativity.
Setting up business in France
Working as independent craftspeople in France is certainly no bed of roses, as one might say! As far as the French administrative system is concerned, things are reasonably difficult and social charges are high. I strongly feel that running a craft business is a case of survival of the fittest! It is always amusing when some people seem to think that craft is a nice Sunday leisure activity and that producing the work is just for pleasure. In reality, all the successful makers that I know are incredibly strong and adaptable creative people. They have weathered many storms and still stand strong and are so dedicated to their craft. It is about stamina, commitment and loving what you do, which is probably the key to success in general!
Best Languedoc wine
Äponem in Vailhan. Dining here is simply magical and incredibly good value for money. Also, their set wine menu is very good, with some great natural wines that accompany their menu.
Perfect day out in the Languedoc
A day in Sète would be my ideal day out in the region. I would start by eating at a great restaurant at midday and conclude with a concert at Théâtre de la Mer (4) in the evening.