France with Jill

September 2019


In September 2019 Jill Wilcox invited old and new friends to spend a week with her in the Minervois region of France. Home was the Chateau d’Agel, an ancient castle in a tiny village surrounded by vineyards and olive groves. The weather was sunny and mild and the grape harvest was underway, a perfect time and place to enjoy the French countryside.

There was a long bus ride from Toulouse that first Saturday but lunch, and Nesquick and Lupin, were waiting for us.In the afternoon there was time to relax and get to know the house, and each other, before our wine tasting in the cave with Joseph, and then dinner on the terrace.

Breakfast was waiting in the dining room each morning, and after Sunday’s breakfast we started off for the market in St. Chinian. Jill showed us what to shop for and there was time for coffee and people-watching, too. Minerve is one of the ‘most beautiful villages in France’ and we lunched there, at Relais Chantovent.Christophe was our favourite driver, always there waiting for us………….and so were Nesquick and Lupin, when we got home.

Monday morning was beautiful, perfect for a walk and breakfast outside before leaving for Carcassonne, the largest walled city in Europe. We saw the sights, shopped, ate cassoulet and still had time for cooking with Jill, and a wonderful dinner on the terrace. First stop was a tour of the Chateau d’Agel winery with Olivier then a stop at the ‘snail’ village, Aigne then a stop at the ‘snail’ village, Aigne lunch in Oupia, at L’Asphodele  a wine tasting at Pech d’Andre with Gerry more cooking, dinner, and a long evening on the terrace, under the stars.

Wednesday began with a walk and a cooking class, before the bus left for Collioure while Jean-Marie and Martine spent the day mounting the pole to fly our flag! The day ended with another cooking class and dinner in the dining room with Christophe-our-driver. Christophe-the-guide met us in a rainy Narbonne for a tour, but the sun soon shone on another beautiful day. Jill showed us through the indoor market, we lunched at Chez Bebelle (to watch the just-in-time meat delivery) and then made one more stop, at the olive mill, L’Oulibo. Gerry led us in a muscat tasting, Martine and Jean-Marie shared the history of the chateau, and then our dinner guests arrived. A beautiful evening, another perfect meal, and a great chance to ask neighbours about life in the area. Our first stop Friday was another of the ‘most beautiful villages in  where we had a surprisingly inspiring vinegar tasting. It inspired some more shopping! A little way down the road, through the Corbieres hills, was the tiny village of Fontjoncouse, and lunch at the Auberge du Vieux Puits. Gilles Goujon is the owner//chef, and his restaurant’s 3 Michelin stars bring diners from around the world. Like us! There was a traffic jam as we left but after a quiet bus ride we were ready for another cooking class, to pack, and to enjoy our last dinner together.

…. hope we see you again soon. Jill, Carol, Brenda and Nancy