Antique shop in Pézenas
The “last undiscovered region of France”
See what the other tourists have been missing. We are located in what is now officially called La Région Occitanie. Until 2016, it was known as the Languedoc-Roussillon. Around 2003, a major magazine called it “the last undiscovered region of France.”
Here is a small sample of what’s on your doorstep when you stay at our house in the village of Valros:
Adjacent Pézenas, with its sprawling, very French Saturday outdoor market; five minutes away by car. This bustling marché features scores of vendors, selling everything from rapture-inducing farm-made cheeses to oysters harvested that morning to fresh Italian pasta to good gifts for the folks back home to local fruits and veggies to roasted chickens and Vietnamese take-away to well-designed, inexpensive jewelry to the globe-trotting vanilla guy to the Irish lady's ginger syrup to cut flowers to cheap clothes ... on and on and on, often with live music to boot.
Pézenas is also one of the antiquing centers of Europe, with something like 50 dealers. Though little known by Americans, the Brits have adored Pézenas since the 1700s and escape here for the sun. You'll hear plenty of English spoken. The old town looks like a movie set, with cobbled, twisting streets and grand Renaissance town houses. Like culture? Love shopping? Want to linger over drinks at a café? Welcome to Pézenas!
Street in Pézenas
Shopping for antiques in Pézenas
History stretching back thousands of years. Nine of France’s 41 UNESCO World Heritage Sites are an easy day trip away: from the 32,000-year-old masterpiece cave paintings of Chauvet ... to the 14th-century Pope’s Palace in Avignon ... to intact Roman architecture like the Pont du Gard and the still-used amphitheatre at Arles ... to Montpellier, a vibrant mini-Paris that’s home to Europe’s oldest medical school ... to the fortified city of Carcassonne. People have settled this prosperous area for millennia, and the wars for control rarely quit. Castles dot the landscape; at the peak of our little town, you’ll find a restored watch tower from the 11th century.
We're near the coast ... and that coast stretches for 200 miles, from the rugged fjords of Marseille to the picturesque painter's town of Collioure at the foot of the Pyrenees. When there’s no traffic, the warm Mediterranean with its miles of wide beaches (and one of the planet’s largest waterfront nudist colonies, you might be curious to know) is just 20 minutes away.
Natural wonders above and below ground. The towering Pyrenees, stretching for 305 miles as the border between France and Spain, are within sight of our town on a clear day. Take the highway there and you’ll soon encounter a whole different, Catalan culture and cuisine. Go the other direction, up to the Causse plateau, and you'll encounter deep-carved gorges reminiscent of the Grand Canyon as well as world-class caves like the 3-star Grotte des Demoiselles.
This region is an unsurpassed foodie paradise with Michelin-starred and Michelin-yearning restaurants in abundance. Our little town, by itself, supports two good restuarants you can walk to within minutes.
Did we mention the wine-tasting? You’ll be surrounded by countless high-quality, small-volume wine producers who do not export their products. In the US, wines from this region (“pays d’oc”) are widely available at the cheap end of the red range. But the region's real wine-making achievements can only be appreciated in residence. You can even buy rare and interesting local wines in the town's “tabac” (convenience store).
Hike, eat, and explore
Learn more about the region and plan a day trip from Valros. Download Tom and Simone’s very own guides to places to go and things to see in all four directions from your house in France.
to the east — download the guide
Via Domitia: Walk a Roman Road, 122 BCE
Bouzigues and vicinity: Oysters, brocante
Mèze: oysters, a wine abbey, and a Saturday flea market
Portside in Marseillan: a notable new restaurant
A Day at the Beach
to the North — download the guide
Pézenas: Pretty, artsy, antiquey, real
Lac du Salagou: windsurfing across a volcano crater
Octon: A favorite hike in volcano country
Montpeyroux and a Really Big Castle
St. Jean-de-Fos: a pottery town
Pic Saint Loup: Fab Wines, Great Views, Nice Hike
Ravin des Arcs: Challenging 2-Hour Hike
La Grotte des Demoiselles: Staggering
Cirque de Navacelles: Breathtaking
to the Northwest — download the guide
La Couvertoirade: a fortified Templar town
Hidden leather artisan, Jean-Pierre Romiguier
Leather-loving Millau and its nearby gorgeous gorge
Leather-bound Millau & the World's Highest Bridge
Hiking with the vultures: A 3-star canyon rim ramble
Roquefort: The town that cheese built
Micropolis: The City of Insects
to the South — download the guide
L'île Sainte-Lucie: A coastal amble
Gruissan: Seaside village
Montolieu: The Village of Books
Abbaye de Fontfroide
A 3-star restaurant in the Corbières
The Last Cathar Bastion (visit to a 450,000 year old man)
Sun-Baked Wine and Castle Peyrepertuse
Fort de Salses and the gorgeous Corbières
Collioure and the wines of Terrassous
to the West — download the guide
The Canal du Midi
The windmills of Faugères
Lamalou-les-Bains and the Forest of the Fighting Writers
St. Martin de l’Arçon & Mont Caroux
Two easy mountain hikes: St. Michel and Dio
St. Pons-de-Thomières: Headquarters of the Haut Languedoc
Roquebrun and the Orb River Beaches
Cessenon-sur-Orb: Red marble, rare wines