Occitanie, South West France, October, 2018

drivingcaramnytotautavel“may my heart always be open to little birds who are the secrets of living.”  E.E. Cummings

I awoke to the sound of chattering birds, roosters greeting the morning, and a gentle breeze blowing the curtains. Hotel Riberach in Bélesta was ‘home’ for 3 nights. The hotel, restaurant and cave (winery) have a snail as their logo: l’escargot, go slowly, lentement 🙂  “L’escargot est d’un naturel curieux..” the snail is curious by nature…”lentement mais sûrement,” slowly but surely.  I received this as an invitation for the days ahead. daveandfiatbelesta

We reached Bélesta via car from Perpignan.  Driving along narrow winding roads, past wineries, vineyards, and rolling hills, covered with autumn colors. Fans of wine, the primary reason for this adventure was wine tasting. First stop: Chateau de Caladroy. We pulled in, rang the doorbell and crossed the threshold. I understand more French than I speak and a lot of French was spoken as we sipped, tasted, and savored.winetastingchateaucaladroy

Prior to this adventure, I hadn’t realized the gastronomy and abundance of foie gras in the region. The restaurant in our hotel crafted delicious and creative cuisine. Lingering over meals was absolutely inviting me to practice curiosity and ‘lentement’ dining. dinnerhotelriberach

Trying to figure out where to wine taste, in ‘off season’ can be a challenge. Soul Driving unfolded. Meaning, we set a desired intention but when that didn’t quite happen, due to winery signs, some open, some not – it lead us along paths we may not have otherwise explored.

Such was how we arrived in Tautavel. Domaine la Différence was open for tasting. Friendly, engaging, conversing back and forth in English and French, tasting – delightful.

The proprietor and chef at El Silex welcomed us in for lunch. We sat outside by the wine bottle fountain, and dined on salads followed by lamb tagine.

Auberge du Cellier in Montner was our dinner destination. Driving along a narrow, dark winding road, I wasn’t completely certain the map had us following the correct route. Practicing driving slowly, and being curious about the route was challenging for me. Needless to say, we arrived. Guess what? More foie gras on the menu 🙂foiegrasaubergeducellier

The following day we attempted to do some more wine tasting in Montner. An older gentleman ran the wine shop and motioned for us to step up to the tasting bar. His flip phone rang and he began speaking loudly and demonstratively: clipped words, large hand gestures, “Non, non, oui, oui, merde.” Hanging up the phone, he said we needed to leave, as he did – an unexpected emergency at home. Come back later.

Rumbling stomaches called so we drove to Ille sur Têt for lunch at Restaurant Saveurs des Orgues.

Post lunch we decided to forgo wine tasting and head to the coast. Collioure by the sea was beckoning. We’d visited more than 10 years before with our kids. Cloudy skies, potential rain, crashing surf, cobbled pathways, pastel colored houses, scent of mussels and the sea, tourists and locals, artists, street musicians, school groups practicing stand up paddle board races in the harbor….we strolled, meandered, paused and watched the waves roll in and out. collioure

Driving off the beaten path we returned to Hotel Riberach for a late afternoon wine tasting in the cave and tour of the facility. Parfait. Salut. Curiosity and lentement.winesayingfrenchriberach



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