Languedoc Cooking Vacation: The New Provence
The Languedoc and Provence are two regions situated next to each other in the south of France, and as such, they offer similar things for a cooking vacation to France. The biggest difference between the two? While Provence continues to be a top destination for tourists, the Languedoc is largely undiscovered, even though it's just as beautiful as its neighbor, as it too has beaches, quaint villages, mountains, and wonderful sun all year round.
The difference in the landscape is that the Languedoc feels a bit more remote. It also may not have as many dramatic mountaintops, but it does have vast miles of vineyards. Those vineyards are the reason that the Languedoc has become the biggest wine-producing region in the entire world. And those vineyards are so prolific in part because the Greeks and Romans started to grow vines and produce both olives and wines here around 2,000 years ago. Up until the 1960s, the wines of the area weren't considered the best quality. But that changed when many estates started nurturing higher volume and stronger vines to grow red Carignan grapes, which can be difficult to grow properly. In addition to red AOCs -- many of which are blends of Grenache, Syrah, Mourvèdre, Carignan, and Cinsault -- the southern region of France also makes some rosés, whites, sparkling, and sweet wines.
As for the food, you'll find bouillabaisse aplenty in Provence, while a cooking class in the Languedoc is more likely to include other regional speciality dishes that include shellfish, especially mussels and oysters, as well as goat cheese, beef gardiane, and seafood, such as cuttlefish. Another popular dishes of the area is the slow-cooked cassoulet.
Discover all this, and so much more, in the beautiful Languedoc.
By Liz Hall