Yerp: Part 4 - Les Sentiers Gourmands.

 May 15, 2011

This morning I awoke, as I had every morning thus far, at the crack of dawn, way earlier than the others in the Little House. I was excited. The Group had to meet at 10am at Abbaye des Monges on the edge of the Massif de la Clape to begin our day experiencing that which is Les Sentiers Gourmands. 

The Jump-Off. (Photo courtesy of Emma)
This was the eighth year for the 5 kilometer wine walk and, from what I heard, the most physically demanding. Upon congregating at the starting point we were all given a pouch to hold our wine glass, which hung around our neck and rested in our, um, cleavage, wooden cutlery, a book of the tastings and finally a straw hat.

Me & Dad rocking our wine walking kits. Note wine glass in pouch. (Photo courtesy of Emma)
And we were on our way. On our way to eat and drink our way through beautiful, scenic vineyards, and up a big, steep, rocky mountain. The hike was punctuated with six stops of food (menu proposed by Marc Schwall Cooks Cellars in Narbonne), and over 40 AOC Languedoc-La Clape wines presented by the winemakers or wine cooperatives.

I believe at our first stop where we were given the Artichoke gazpacho with fennel and olive oil, and about 4 or 5 different wines to taste, Emma turned to me and exclaimed, “I don’t know how anyone could actually get drunk doing this.” I giggled silently to myself, and thought, “Oh, Emma…”

The gazpacho was divine, cool in temperature, yet warm in body and texture. I wanted more. But we were given our six tickets, one for each taste, and I certainly didn’t want to miss out on any of the others. I will be trying to make an artichoke gazpacho on my own very soon.

The stretch between the first and second stop was downright grueling. Straight. Up. Hill. With lotsa rocks everywhere. So upon reaching the summit (first one there!), the little man selling his little jars of rosemary honey was a welcome sight indeed. So I bought a jar of honey to bring home to Maggie.

The next taste was the eggplant marmalade and Collioure anchovies, pepper coulis and Espelette. And a lot of different rosés. All of the different wineries served their tastes atop wooden wine barrels, which was pretty cool.

(Photo courtesy of Dale)
And on we walked, the lot of us. We walked, at times, in various groups, with a partner or a trio, or alone. There was a lot of time and a lot of wine and a lot of walking. It was, quite possibly the most beautiful, inspiring, and romantic thing I have ever experienced.

(Photo courtesy of Dale)
The next stand offered us St. Jacques scallops in hot cold crayfish cake (that's the best translation I could come up with).

The stretch from scallop stop to our next stop was right about the time when Emma and I were laughing about her comment upon embarking on this adventure. Hell, we were all laughing about everything at this point. I guess we were getting a little tipsy. Not just because of the wine. It was just all so potent. Everything about it.

(Photo courtesy of Dale)
This brings us to probably my dad's favorite, the parmentier of duck confit, eggplant and mushrooms, dried, juice and tomato stew (again, best translation I could muster). This dish was both a delicacy for the eyes and mouth. Beautiful, big reds were paired at this stop.

(Photo courtesy of Dale)

I can honestly say that, after this stop, which was the most filling in both food and wine, I was in the clouds a bit. I walked the next stretch alone for the most part. Happily.

And then I met up with everyone again at the next stand; a selection of goat cheeses by Mas Combebelle. 

The cheeses were ripe, supple, briny and lovely. They were the perfect thing to slice through the big, palate lingering flavors and textures from the duck confit stop.

And then, as if it all lasted but a moment, we found ourselves at what appeared to be a little outdoor festival. There was a band, children dancing, dozens and dozens of people that had already finished the walk, more flooding in at each moment. This was our final stop. This was where we were served the “Success” with caramelized apples and raisins, caramel rosemary and coffee (or more wine). I sorta wished I had doubled up my tickets way back at the artichoke gazpacho stop as this dish was very much not my cup of tea (cooked fruit issues).

But it mattered not. I was absolutely sated.

So, I sat with the members of The Group that had arrived, sipped another glass of wine, stepped on - and ruined - my favorite sunglasses, and waited for the remaining members of The Group.

Before we left I picked up an apron for Doug and we all bought a selection of the favorite wines we had tasted throughout the day.

That evening we all went across the street from our houses to Joelle and his wife Maria's house for a beautiful meal and more wine. It was, perhaps, one of the most decadent and splendorous of days I have spent in memory, and one that would be near impossible to recreate.

Well and so, Emma and I capped off this evening with a bottle or two more bottles of wine while laying in our beds, sighing, giggling, and taking stock of the last thirty-six seventy-two (who's even counting, now?) week, the whirlwind, of our adventure. 

Chris, pouring one out for our homie, France. (Photo courtesy of Emma)

This concludes the France part of Yerp. Up next, Barcelona!

Sentiers Gourmands:
Price per person € 48, price group over 12 persons € 45, € 10 child less than 10 years.

Narbonne Tourist Office, 31 rue Jean Jaures, 11100 Narbonne.
Tel 04 68 65 15 60 Tel 04 68 65 15 60


  1. Sounds like a fantastic trip...looking forwrd to reading more.
    Connie T.

  2. This looks like quite the lovely time.

    I'm having a hard tome imagining what the artichoke gazpacho is like, but I imagine it's quite good. Best of luck with recreating it!

  3. It was a lovely journey, indeed! Thanks for reading, y'all!