The small village of Fitou lies in the shadow of the French Pyrenees, half an hour drive from Perpignan, on the southern Mediterranean coast of France. The village is really nothing but a cobbled street strewn with wine caves where local producers of the Fitou grape sell their bottles at prices that make you want to return and fill the car. At the top of the road is a castle which is thought to date back to 990 which has curiously been turned into a tapas bar strewn with tasselled pillows, cacti and fairy lights twinkling at dusk.
We arrived on Tuesday and headed straight for the nearest beach, a long stretch of pale sand, azure, flat waters and an almighty gale force wind (perfect for the wind surfers who pepper the horizon.) After toasting in the unbelievable 37 degree heat we headed to seafood restaurant Le Sardine perched on the edge of the estuary and devoured freshly caught sardines and oysters, for which the Languedoc-Roussillon region is also known.
On the Thursday Fitou came into its own with the wine festival. For just three Euro deposit we each received a wine glass on a string and were free to wander in and out of the caves trying as many different wines as we could handle. There were oysters here too and we happily put away six for six euro.The cute little village put on a mighty show with locals dressed as Romans in honour of the Roman god of wine, Bacchus.
On Friday night we washed the salty sea off of our browned bodies and spruced-up to try the village’s most well-known restaurant Restaurant La Cave D’agnes, a converted barn adorned with ivy where we ate the softest poached squid in broth followed by thick and red rump steaks and fresh-baked french loaf. The house wine here was excellent but even more enticing was the aperitif we were served – a concoction of locally grown peach pulp, fizz and cinnamon.
Saturday called for another beach, this time further east where the wind was calmer and we were able to sit with a beer at the laid-back beach bar. For dinner Auberge Lou Courtal des Vidals satiated our huge appetites with an enormous fish, cured meats and seafood buffet as a starter, followed by crispy-skinned and oily mackerel and another buffet of desserts to finish us all off. I lost track of the amount of wine we guzzled that night between seven but the restaurant’s own vineyard certainly produced the best and for just 8 Euro a bottle. We happily sipped glasses of rich velvety Grenache until the early hours, the staff not int he slightest fussed about us hanging around and enjoying the night.