Tucked away in a triangle between Narbonne, Perpignan and Carcassonne, the Corbières region is one of the wildest, most unspoilt parts of the Languedoc. From Narbonne, the Mediterranean is only 10 minutes' drive away, but banish clichéd images of the south of France: the landscape here is dominated by dramatic wetlands as a series of lakes filled with flamingos and herons run parallel to sandy beaches and resorts such as Bages and Peyriac – long favoured by painters and poets.
Start driving inland and the landscape quickly changes to the bare, arid foothills of the Pyrenées, called Les Causses. This is the historic pays Cathare, where high mountain ridges are topped off by spectacular castles, dating back to religious disputes in the Middle Ages.
But the big reason to visit the Corbières today is for the wine and food. Village bistros specialise in hearty cuisine, from the traditional cassoulet to seafood such as squid and cod. Winemakers offer cosy chambres d'hôtesor reasonably priced gîtes. And there has been a winemaking revolution here, with a dynamic new generation of young vignerons, who are now working smaller vineyards – often organic – and creating high-quality wines that, for the moment, offer outstandingly good value.
Peyriac is one of the most idyllic spots in Corbières, and the perfect place to try local wines and feast on typical regional dishes is O Vieux Tonneaux. You walk into a long wooden bar with ancient leather armchairs, and diners sit around cheery red-checked tablecloths awaiting generous dishes prepared by chef-owner Christelle Sarraud, ranging from bourride d'anguilles, using eels fished from the lake, to a gargantuan cassoulet, with duck confit, sausage and white beans, and thick chunks of cuttlefish and spicy chorizo. Wash it all down with one of 40 local vintages, starting at €10 a bottle, or by the glass if you prefer.
• 3 Place de la Mairie, Peyriac-de-Mer, +33 468 483954
The full article https://www.theguardian.com/travel/2014/feb/21/languedoc-wine-route-top-10 For other articles by the excellent John Brunton