‘Must do’s’ when staying at the Couvent in Hérépian:
1. Relax in the gardens and swim in the pool at the Couvent.
2. Walk up the Gorges d’Héric (17km west of Hérépian on the D908) Spectacular gorge. Stunning views. Countless waterfalls. Swim in the rock pools. Take a picnic. There is a café when you reach the hamlet of Héric.
3. Go for a cycle ride along the old railway track. The track passes through Hérépian and continues for miles – to Bédarieux in the east and through countless towns and villages along the River Orb and then the River Jour to the west. The Couvent has bikes you can use.
4. An easy walk from the Couvent: up to Notre Dame de Capimont. Lovely views over Hérépian and surrounding countryside. See link for details.
5. Car Tour of Villages: pick up the leaflet ‘Upper Languedoc: A day, a route, a local terroir’ from Hérépian tourist office. Try the car tour which passes through Hérépian, Bédarieux, Boussagues, Camplong … and Combes.
6. Canoe down the River Orb: tackle the rapids, swim, picnic, relax! (20 minutes west of Hérépain at Tarassac)
7. Visit the picturesque village of Olargues – (20km west of Hérépian on the D908) or Roquebrun with its fascinating Mediterranean Gardens. (A 40 minute scenic drive from Hérépian.)
8. Taste the local wines in Faugères (9km from Hérépian: D909A south, then D909, left turn onto D10 towards Pézanas) or St Chinian (45km from Hérépian) : see link
9. Visit Pézanas (32km west of Hérépian: D909A, D909, D13) for their massive Saturday market or Lamalou-les-bains: (4km west of Hérépian on the D908) for their Tuesday market 8am – 1pm.
10. Canal du Midi: If you want to arrange boat hire ask at the tourist office in Hérépian. One option is to hire a boat from Villeneuve-les-Béziers (D909 south from Hérépian). It’s a pretty town to visit afterwards. Don’t miss the fascinating mural of a house in the centre of town!
‘Must Visit’ Restaurants when staying at the Couvent in Hérépian:
• Have lunch at the Auberge de Combes*: (10km from Hérépian. Take the D908 from Hérépian to Lamelou, continue as far as Poujol-sur-Orb and then turn right onto the small and windy D180 which leads to the village) excellent restaurant in a beautiful hilltop village. 3 course lunch with a glass of wine costs 25 Euros on Tuesdays, Thursdays and Fridays
• Have lunch or dinner at L’Auberge de l’Abbaye (Villemagne-l’Argentière): (3km north on D922 from Hérépian) Lovely restaurant/ beautiful setting (poppy fields).
• Ocre Rouge: in the square beside the Couvent. Excellent food.
• The Table d’Hôte at the Couvent is excellent value.
The centre of the small town of Hérépian is full of narrow streets so parking in these roads can be difficult.
On arrival at the Couvent Boutique Hotel (see above) in the rue du Couvent, we suggest you unload your car outside the hotel and then park your car in one of the following locations:
– In the small square a few metres uphill from the Couvent, next to the Ocre Rouge restaurant (a dozen or so spaces available)
– Further down the rue du Couvent, away from the square (four or five parking spaces available)
– In the large car park in the Avenue René Cassin (D922). From the Couvent continue uphill (square and Ocre Rouge to your left) on the Grand Rue. At the top turn right and immediately left into the Avenue René Cassin. (D922) The car park is on your right after 50 metres.
4 bicycles are available at the Couvent for guests to use and in just a couple of minutes you can join this excellent cycle path along a disused railway. It’s an easy, flat route which will take you miles in either direction!
To the east the path leads to the beautiful old village of Villemagne l’Argentière and then on to Bédarieux. To the west you’ll pass through the market town of Lamalou-les-bains, the villages of Le Poujol and Colombières on the Orb and on to Mons la Trivalle for the Gorge d’Héric (a ‘must visit’ – see separate article) and beyond. The cycle path – 75km in total – continues all the way to Mazamet in the west. Check out this link to the French website www.voiesvertes-hautlanguedoc.fr
To reach the cycle path turn left out of the Couvent and left at the square, passing the Ocre Rouge on your right. Turn right at the bottom of the road onto the high street. At the roundabout take the third exit and almost immediately take a left turn on the D922 signposted Villemagne l’Argentière. The path starts just a few hundred metres along this road.
The village of Roquebrun is a real gem. It’s a 40 minute drive from Hérépian, through beautiful Languedoc scenery. Afterwards continue on to St Chinian for some wine tasting.
Take the D908 towards Lamelou and after about 20 minutes turn left at Tarassac* onto the D14. The road follows the River Orb which meanders through dramatic steep sided, forested hills (almost mountains). The D14 skates high above the river and then descends to pass beside little villages, like the picturesque Vieussan or Ceps before ascending again. Every so often you will catch a glimpse of bright orange canoes below negotiating their way through the rapids or quieter stretches of the Orb.
Roquebrun itself is a delight, particularly the Mediterranean Gardens, with their orange and lemon trees, mimosa and lots of exotic plants spreading all along the hillside. The little town – nicknamed the ‘Nice of Herault’ – enjoys a microclimate which enables all of these plants to flourish. The Carolingian tower stands above the gardens on a rocky crag. From the gardens and the tower there are spectacular views over Roquebrun, the River Orb and beyond. After you visit swim or relax beside the river or have a bite to eat at one of the many cafés or restaurants.
If you wish to continue to St Chinian from Roquebrun it’s about a 20 minute drive. Cross the river (D14), pass through the hamlet of Lugné and after a couple more miles, just before Cessenon-sur-Orb, take a right turn on the D20 to St Chinian. Tastings are available at the Cooperative just on the outskirts of the town and the Maison des Vins in the centre.
The closest interesting wine tasting is in Faugères. (9km from Hérépian).
From Hérépian, take the D909A towards Béziers. This soon becomes the D909. A few miles further on take a left turn on the D13 towards Faugères. As you reach the centre of the village of Faugères the Cave des Vignerons is on the main road on the right.
La Cave des Vignerons, Mas Olivier, 34600 Faugères. Phone:+33 4 67 95 08 80
St Chinian also has some interesting wines.(45km from Hérépian)
From Hérépian take the D908 towards Lamelou and turn left at Tarassac onto the D14. Continue beside the River Orb to Roquebrun where the D14 crosses the river. Pass through the hamlet of Lugné and after a couple more miles, just before Cessenon-sur-Orb, take a right turn on the D20 to St Chinian.
Tastings are available…
…at the Caves Cooperatives just on the outskirts of the town.
Caves des Vignerons de St Chinian, Chemin de Sorteilho Phone :+33 467 382840
…and the Maison des Vins in the centre.
Maison des Vins de St Chinian, 1 Rue de la Promenade
The nearest canoe hire to Le Couvent is at Tarassac, just 20 minutes’ drive from Hérépian (west on the D908). There are a variety of options, of which the easiest is to park your car at Tarassac and they will take you by minibus up to Le Poujol sur Orb. You can then take your time canoeing back to Tarassac. There are a number of rapids on the river but this stretch (Le Poujol to Tarassac) is the gentlest. They are open every day in summer. Book in advance to avoid disappointment.
We picked up a brochure of local car tours from the Tourist Office in Hérépian. This brochure (Haut Languedoc: Un jour, une route, un terroir www.herault-tourisme.com) outlines a variety of car tours (with notes and a map) including one which passes through Hérépian and takes you into the hills above Bédariaux. (de Bédariaux aux Monts de L’Espinouse’) It’s a 55km drive but with stops to explore it took us most of the day.
Boussagues – 2 castles, religious history, little streets (no shops), unpretentious. Stop for lovely views above the village.
Camplong – interesting old café (Joucla) – old miners’ café (coal mined close by). Café dates from 1898. Stopped for a drink here and the owner was chatty and told us about the history and printed some information off about the place from the internet for us. A short distance from the village (easily walkable) is the ‘arboretum’ – 1000 hectares (massive) with many varieties of tree. A couple of walks (Petites Randonnées) start here. Both classed as average on the difficulty scale. ‘Puits du mine Durand’ (mine shaft) is close by.
Graissesac – remains of past mining activity, botanical gardens, good fishing along the river Mare.
St Gervais sur Mare – large pretty village, museum of local art and traditions, 17th century ‘chapelle’ and church Saint-Gervais-Saint-Protais dating from the 12th century. To continue the tour drive to the end of the village and take to D22 towards Rosis and Combes.
Combes – last stop – beautiful little hilltop village with cobbled, narrow streets. All the cherry trees were heaving with ripe fruit. The Auberge de Combes does a lunch for 24Euros including a glass of wine. Would definitely recommend it.
If you want just a taste of life on the Canal du Midi you can hire a small electric boat from Villeneuve-les-Béziers for an hour or two and enjoy the iconic scenery. The staff at the Tourist Office in Hérépian will phone to arrange it for you or you can ring yourself.(website link and address and phone number below) Continue reading →
Combes village is up in the hills above Lamelou-les-bains (Take the D908 from Hérépian to Lamelou, continue as far as Poujol-sur-Orb and then turn right onto the small and windy D180 which leads to the village.) The auberge is in such a magical setting looking overlooking the hills of the Languedoc National Park. Continue reading →