Between the Cevennes and the Mediterranean, the history of the Hérault goes back to antiquity. Its golf courses are more recent, but between Montpellier and Béziers, the harmony is successful. A land of sport, a land of wine, a land of sunshine, the Languedoc has treasures to reveal to those who put their senses to the test.
The cradle of the Golfy Network, the Massane Golf Club took shape in 1988 to the north-east of the Languedoc capital. The Californian architect Ronald Fream was given carte blanche to shape the course between a few pieces of water, playing over 7 holes. He created relief, artificial mounds, doglegs and a myriad of trapping bunkers, ready to snatch up any stray ball. With its island green, the par 4 14th is the signature of the course. In 2020, the purchase of the club by Eoden, a regional company specialising in ecological transition, will allow, thanks to ongoing work, the improvement of water management with the renovation of the watering system and the repair of the course.
Since 1991, to the northwest of Montpellier, the Hotel Golf Fontcaude has brought greenery to the garrigue. The New Zealander Chris Pittman has optimised this slightly undulating plain to create 27 holes on 80 hectares, around a hotel with 86 rooms. On the course, the doglegs follow one another – no need to cut over the scrubland – to elevated greens that require precision in the approaches and touch in the putting, their speed exceeds their reputation. The end of the course is solid with, among others, the par 3 of the 17th where the flight over a ravine is impressive. On the terrace of La Garrigue, the club’s table, the view of the course is soothing while the Mediterranean flavoured menu is invigorating and appetising…
Born in 1980, the oldest club around Montpellier, the Golf du Pic Saint-Loup faces this emblematic peak of the Hérault region, renowned for its vineyards. For several years, at the cost of valiant efforts, this club with 27 holes has been given a makeover. Donald Harradine’s initial layout has evolved thanks to Robert Berthet, with the Puech (18T) and Coulondres (9T) courses, supported by Marek Nowak and his team of gardeners. A new driving range has been built, encouraging players to work on their swing. If the terrain is still there, the steep slopes bear witness to this, the views of the Grande Bleue and the Coulondrines table can only delight visitors and regulars alike.
Just a stone’s throw from the quays of the Orb and the Pierre-Paul Riquet alleys, the Béziers Saint-Thomas Golf Course takes advantage of the garrigue between the Cévennes to the north and the Catalan Canigou to the south. In 1992, Patrice Lambert gave shape to the course, integrating the marshes into his design, planting a few trees while beautiful villas grew on the edge of a slightly undulating terrain. When the Tramontane wind came into play, the Amen corner of Berne – from the 14th to the 16th – had its effect. Between the ducks and the majestic swans parading on the water, the birdies are then discreet on the greens! In the heart of the largest vineyard in the world by surface area, in a club appreciated by sportsmen – the ASB rugby players in front -, the club-house table is welcome to water a beautiful card or forget the hazards of a chaotic game…
Where to stay ?
Since ancient times, the Château L’Hospitalet***** has been a place of welcome at the gates of Narbonne. Today, owned by Gérard Bertrand wines, with its 41 rooms and suites between the château and the villa Soleilla, the “Wine Resort” enjoys a view over a thousand hectares of garrigue and vines in the heart of the Clape massif, a stone’s throw from the beaches of Gruissan. When it’s time to eat, the choice is difficult between “Chez Paule” where the menu is inspired by the old recipes of Paule Bertrand – the grandmother born on January 1st 1900, the family reference -, “l’Art de Vivre” the gastronomic restaurant where the chef Laurent Chabert sublimates the work of regional producers, and “l’Hospitalet Beach” on the hotel’s beach, a few kilometres away. After golf, after a tasting of sun-drenched grape varieties, a stopover at the Soleilla Spa is a must for an exceptional moment. The expert hands and high quality products are all there for relaxation and well-being. Guided tours take place on the estate, ideal for discovering the secrets of the Oc grape varieties, an olfactory and gustatory escape that will seduce all your senses. From 16 to 21 July, the “Jazz à l’Hospitalet” festival welcomes a host of artists, linking musical culture with the art of living in the Occitan style.
Nicknamed the “Venice of Languedoc” for its island location between the sea, the Etang de Thau, its canals and its graus, Sète has a history dating back to antiquity.
From the Renaissance to the 18th century, the town grew considerably thanks to its port at the mouth of the Canal du Midi, which competed with Marseille on the Mediterranean. During the 19th century, the city protected itself from marine erosion with the construction of a dike and a breakwater. The problem is still relevant today. For the past twenty years, the stabilisation of the coastline has been a priority supported by European funds. But Sète has also seen the birth of illustrious talents such as Paul Valéry, Jean Vilar – both of whom are buried in the marine cemetery -, Manitas de Plata – the Gypsy with silver hands -, the painter Robert Combas and the most famous, the poet whose moustache, pipe and guitar have reached far beyond Mont Saint-Clair, Georges Brassens of course! Every year, around August 25th for the Fêtes de la Saint-Louis – a lively week -, Sète fills up around the nautical jousts on the Royal Canal, a sporting event dating back to 1743. There, to the sound of drums and oboes, the knights of the canal confront each other, spears in hand, solidly posted at the back of boats representing the districts of the city. The public is asking for more…
The vine and the Languedoc, a story of love, sun and soil dating back over 2000 years! In the world’s largest wine-producing region, Gérard Bertrand has been passionate about the vine, the grape harvest and wine since 1975.
A fervent defender of the environment, Gérard Bertrand has been working biodynamically – a century-old concept – for more than twenty years on all of his vineyards throughout the Languedoc-Roussillon region, i.e. some 950 hectares. Biodynamic farming means “all natural”, where only organic fertilisers are used. Organic 2.0″! The winegrower cares for the vine, strengthens it and harvests the fruits without exhausting it. He favours quality over quantity, a radical change in a region where, not so long ago, vines were still being “pissed on”! Since Paule Bertrand in 1920, after Georges – who died in 1987 – and Gérard, Emma and Mathias are the fourth generation of winegrowers in the family. A former rugby player, Gérard Bertrand built his group on the values of this wonderful sport, performance and excellence. In more than 30 years at the head of the company, he has acquired numerous estates, enabling him to diversify his production in terms of grape varieties, both red and white, rosé and even orange wine, a blend of chardonnay, viognier, roussane and white grenache inspired by the wines of Georgia, which are also full of sunshine. Not forgetting its natural sweet wines, its Banyuls, its Maury, its Muscat de Rivesaltes, these Catalan wines which sublimate the end of a meal, a chocolate dessert! Given the diversity of its production, sommeliers could recommend a Gérard Bertrand wine with each dish, from starter to dessert. This was the case during Golfy’s 30th anniversary celebrations, which were held in the presence of its host, Château L’Hospitalet.
Often cited as one of the most beautiful villages in France, Saint-Guilhem-le-Désert was founded in 804, when Saint-Guilhem founded his abbey in the Haut-Hérault, in the Gellone valley, a “desert” which gave it its name.
In the Middle Ages, the relic of a piece of the “Holy Cross” offered by Charlemagne attracted pilgrims before the village became a stopover on the Via Tolosa, on the route to Santiago de Compostela. Today, the village with its narrow streets, its stone walls covered with climbing plants, its round tiled roofs, its secular plane tree on the main square, is very touristic even if it remains difficult to access by a small winding road. Every year, on the first Sunday of June, during a medieval festival, the village regains its medieval atmosphere. Near Saint-Guilhem-le-Désert, the Devil’s Bridge over the Hérault dates back to the Romanesque period. A few hundred metres away, the Clamousse cave, a speleological site with beautiful concretions including the Couloir Blanc, was discovered in 1945 and has been accessible to the public since 1964. In the interests of preservation, it has been lit with LEDs since 2010, making it the first “green” cave in France.
The aficion goes far beyond the Iberian peninsula, even if the craze for bullfighting is sometimes disputed. The feria of Béziers was born in 1968, in bullring dating from the end of the 19th century. The greatest matadors have fought in Béziers, Luis Miguel Dominguin, El Cordobes, Paco Ojeda to name but a few, not forgetting Sébastien Castella, the local boy who received the alternative in August 2000. Every year, around the 15th of August, nearly a million people gather in Béziers for a festive week, with a common passion for the art of bullfighting. The arenas cannot accommodate everyone, so the bodegas and casittas fill up from midday onwards, while the peñas and bandas encourage the crowd to dance, mingle and have fun until late at night… This year, the feria will take place from 11 to 15 August with its traditional abrivados, its novilladas and the toros as valiant as ever in the arena