I was surprised to read your article on Helena Frith-Powell headlined Lip gloss in Languedoc (August edition).
I’ve lived in Limoux in the Languedoc for 14 years and French classic chic is certainly not present in any of the small towns and villages in this area.
This region is one of the poorest in France, where young people move to the cities to work, and the ones who would have worked in factories (now closed down) are unemployed.
Some market stalls sell small items that would not even be seen in an English charity shop, and there are stalls with masses of old clothes, mostly grey.
The vineyards are similar to your photo, without the weeds, producing some of the best wines in France, with small tractors used by the owners, or vines pruned and grapes collected by hand..... this is Occitanie. There is no French chic amongst the vineyards, or in the villages, but food is another matter – whether collecting snails or picking rosemary bushes to make a tisane.
Hunting for wild boar is a popular sport, and the Fête du Porc is a big event at the local supermarket, with freshly killed pigs in the chillers. People in this area eat every part of the animal, and one of the favourites is cooking the pig’s head, placing it in the centre of the table with a sauce, and everyone happily stripping off their favourite parts of the animal.
The French in the Languedoc countryside have no money to be chic, Helena should take a good look around her before writing novels on ‘staying chic in rural France’.
Susan THOMAS, Aude