Returning to London after days, or weeks, in the Languedoc is always a bit of a shock to the system, so we try to soften the blow. Our unofficial departure lounge is a splendid restaurant, just ten minutes from Montpellier airport, Le Bistrot d’Ariane on the Port Ariane at Lattes. It is a little oasis, in rather extraordinary surroundings that have more in common with Florida than the Languedoc, for the tables outside have you sitting beside some expensive yachts and looking out at shuttered holiday flats. But don’t put off by that. You are also savouring the last moments of Languedoc sunshine, with some delicious food – they are particularly good at fish, not to mention the local oysters, and the wine list is a wonderful illustration of some of the best of the Languedoc. And if you want to drink wines from elsewhere, the rest of France is well covered too.
We were there last Tuesday, for cabillaud (or more prosaically, cod) in a creamy sauce, with a morille des pins as an accompaniment. It was succulent. And the wine was 2008 Mas Conscience, Vin de Pays de l’Hérault blanc, Cuvée L’In. This is yet another shining example of how much white wine from the Languedoc has improved. The grape variety blend is Bouboulenc, Marsanne and Roussanne. Dare I say that it was almost like young Chablis, with some firm acidity and minerality, but with more weight. There was good structure and body, with dry herbal notes on the nose. Mas Conscience also produces some lovely reds, notably their Cuvée l’As which is based on old Carignan.
Le Bistrot d’Ariane, 5 rue Chevaliers de Malte, Lattes. - Tel: 04 67 20 01 27 Take the Lattes exit from the A9 motorway and follow signs for Port Ariane. Bon appetit!