Toast Trip: Southern France

Stone houses of Languedoc in southern France

Far from the throngs of the Côte d'Azur and the French Riviera, this is the "other" South of France. A land of steeply planted vineyards facing the Mediterranean. Hidden Roman churches in the foothills of the Pyrenees. Sleepy beach towns with secret coves for afternoon swimming.

This is Languedoc, in southwestern France. The arid air and cerulean sea remind me of Provence — minus the traffic and attitude. Just three hours north of Barcelona, this part of France is little-known to American travelers.

The food is outstanding: fresh oysters, home cured olives, sun-drenched, flavor-filled produce, and much more. The culture is richly layered. Learn about the mysticism of the Cathars, a religious order eliminated by the Catholic church in the 14th-century. Discover the Catalan border towns and their folk traditions. Experience the laid-back coastal vibe including nude beaches, stunning hikes along paths cut into the steep coastline, and ancient history at every turn.

The trip is planned for ten days in September, 2020. Stay tuned for details!