A handful of essential ingredients, a just-baked baguette and a glass of something cool and crisp: that’s our idea of a great picnic. And, in Languedoc Roussillon, you can lay your blanket on the ground safe in the knowledge that the local produce is the perfect excuse to get into the great outdoors and enjoy a lunch with a view to remember.
Asparagus, figs, olive oil and honey. Rich and creamy cheese, almonds and anchovies and, the further you head towards Spain, tapas-style dishes of pork sausages, salt cod and sardines (and, for the brave, garlicky snails!) Yes, the food of Languedoc-Roussillon is as varied as the landscape, and every bit as delicious.
Time your exploration to coincide with village market days to appreciate this region’s devotion to ‘fresh is best’ and ‘local is better’.
There are little markets all the way up the Canal du Midi where you can stock up on local produce, Beziers has a terrific covered food market (7 Bis Bd De La Liberte, 34500 Beziers), and Perpignan’s Catalan culture reveals itself in the town’s many excellent delis and speciality producers. Try the Marché Cassanyes – a fantastic Perpignan food market – open every day at Place des Cassanyes.
Sample the very best of this region’s colourful and hearty produce – stock up on some fresh bread, and head out to the coast or country for an al freso lunch Langedouc-Rousillon-style. Here are some of our essential items that will perk up any picnic.
Tomme des Pélardon
Soft, mild and creamy, this goat’s cheese is almost mousse-like in texture, making it the perfect thing to spread on a crusty baguette.
Every village has its own recipe. We love those with a layer of frangipane – an aromatic paste made with sugar, eggs and ground almonds, with buttery puff pastry.
Fresh, young and fruity – this citrusy, easy-drinking rosé is the perfect picnic accompaniment, and at only around €4 a bottle, a real bargain.
This black-crusted cake is made with goat’s cheese, and is a salty-sweet treat that’s perfect with a refreshing cup of tea. The deliberately burned top gives a charcoal-like crunch that compliments the moist sponge perfectly.
Le petit pâté de Pézenas
The size of a mini pork pie, these golden brown pastries are packed with flavour. Their pastry conceals a meaty, mutton and spice filling that’s said to have its origins in India.
This aromatic pate is made from pork, onion and pepper and has a distinct taste of liver, with a soft, spreadable texture. Great on fresh bread.
The Romans considered the honey of the Languedoc to be the best of the best. Infused with the flavours of rosemary, thyme and lavender you’ll find it on sale at local markets. Great with figs – another local speciality. You’ll get both at the Saturday market in Pézenas.
This typically Mediterranean spread is made with anchovy fillets, oil, garlic and lemon. It gives a salty, maritime tang to sandwiches – or mix into pasta.
Locally made black pudding – made with pig’s blood, seasonings and pork fat. Not for everyone, perhaps – but if you’re looking for traditional, rustic fare, it doesn’t get better than this.
These mighty meaty whelks are usually cooked with garlic butter or spices and you’ll find them at fishmongers and markets along the coast. Try the fish-markets are in Saint-Cyprien and Port-Vendres
Made from black Iberian pigs, this is the ultimate in cured ham – air dried for up to 36 months. Not strictly from this area, but you’ll find it in Roussillon’s best delis, as the Catalan culture comes to the fore.
Eco-product cooperative specializing in local, sustainably grown farm-fresh produce.
Route de Sète ZC Intermarché “Les portes du Littoral”, Agde
Bouchons et Tradition
Wine merchant, deli and all-round local food evangelists. Great for cooked meats, preserves, olives, condiments.
Route Minervoise ZAC la Garrigue, Argeliers
Vert Chex Nous
Friendly local grocer specialising in fresh salads, sauces and cheeses.
1 Rue du 11 Novembre 1918, 34410 Sérignan
Les Caves Richemer
Great wines (take a container, and fill your own from the barrel), and a hearty selection of local produce.
1 Rue du Progrès, 34340 Marseillan
Sete Food market
A great selection of food products from the region (land and sea) in this daily covered market.
Les Halles Centrales, Rue Gambetta
Great Catalan-inspired deli with excellent cured hams, olives, pates and charcuterie.
Chemin de la Fauceille , 66100 Perpignan