A day off from the garden today as we went on our Cercle Occitan’s summer jaunt. This is the group in our village which supports Occitan culture (very different from northern French) and runs Occitan language courses, which we attend and try to learn from! Mainly, though, the group’s activities are centred around eating and drinking well and enjoying ourselves (like most people’s lives here) with a recognition of the importance in life of culture and history. Today we had lunch in the shade of olive and pine trees in the garden of a restaurant next to the Canal du Midi, which was designed by Béziers-born Paul Riquet in the seventeenth century to make travel possible from the Mediterranean to the Atlantic. We ate tapas and fideua (paella made with pasta rather than rice) – all very good. My recipe for fideua is on my Food from the Mediterranean blog (which I can’t seem to link to), but I used only seafood. The version we ate today had meat – chicken and pork – as well as prawns, squid and mussels.
Then we boarded the little tourist train for a tour of Béziers, starting from the 9 successive locks on the canal, along part of the canal where the pleasure boats are moored, along the Allées Paul Riquet shaded by plane trees, past the theatre and Les Halles, the market hall, and through the narrow streets of the old town to the cathedral and a wonderful view of the surrounding countryside.