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Beziers

William Bernard teaches English at the College Paul Bert in Capestang, near Beziers in Languedoc-Roussillon, France

Favourite place when you have time off?

I like hiking and what we call "old stones". About 24km from Beziers is Pezenas, which is famous for its old castle. Moliere spent time there, and its narrow streets are lined with pottery, leather and antique shops. There is also a lovely shop where they make chocolates that look like olives.

For a day out in the wild, we often go to Le Caroux, a mountain at the edge of the Massif Centrale.

There's a gentle walk up a narrow road with no cars, or a train takes tourists up.

On a clear day, you can see the sea from the top, which is more than 1,000m high.

At the foot of the mountain you can visit the charming village of Mons La Trivalle and some people canoe down to Beziers on the River Orb from Tarassac.

Roquebrun has been discovered by the English, but there's a wonderful Mediterranean garden there and in summer people swim in the river from the pebble beach under its old bridge.

Remember to buy

Le petit pate de Pezenas in the market on Saturday mornings in Pezenas. It was brought here by an Englishman who came from India and is a small pastry case stuffed with mincemeat, like English mincemeat with raisins and so on, mutton and honey.

Favourite place to eat

Les Palmiers in Pezenas is an open-air restaurant with two palm trees that's only open in the summer. At Valras, the seaside resort for Beziers, there are many fish restaurants.

Sete, also on the coast with a pretty beach, is where they gather mussels and oysters.

Don't miss

Le Pont Canal in Beziers, where the Canal du Midi goes over the river and the road, and the canal's series of nine locks, where you get a good view of the city

Find out more

Visit www.beziers-tourisme.fr.

Le Routard Languedoc-Roussillon (www.routard.com) is good for restaurants and places to stay and L'Herault ... VTT for cyclists

(www.decouvrir-l-herault.com)

How to get there

France Afloat (08700 110 538, www.franceafloat.com) has a new base at Capestang, from which holidaymakers can cruise to Carcassone on a 54km lock-free section of the Canal du Midi. Prices in the summer holidays start at pound;1,486 a week for a self-drive craft.

Price to the planet

Offset the climate cost of a return flight to Montpelier for pound;5 per adult. www.climatecare.org

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