(Route 3, from the Cevennnes to the Atlantic)
Price Band: **
“A humble sketcher here laid down his pencil in despair,” wrote Robert Louis Stevenson, silenced by the beauty of his surroundings as he followed the Tarn down from Pont de Montvert to Florac, passing as he went the village of Cocurès … “sitting among vineyards, and meadows and orchards thick with red apples, and where along the highway they were knocking down walnuts from the roadside trees.”
Pierrette Agulhon grew up with her four sisters in these fruitful surroundings , and in 1990 she took over the running of the small family hotel by herself. At least, that is how it seems. A wine expert and tireless worker, Pierrette gives the impression of doing everything: stocking the cellar, doing up the rooms, adding local artefacts to the décor and making the place comfortable, cosy and unexpectedly chic (if that does not sound too patronising).
“I have always tried to offer une cuisine de saveurs,” she says, “based on the quality of our local produce.” How many times have we heard this? At La Lozerette it seems to mean something. Chefs come and go, but the mission – simple goodness – remains constant. La Lozerette is a treasure.
(From chapter 3)
After our experience in Issoire, we needed something to restore our faith in French hotel-keeping, and La Lozerette at Cocurès was the perfect port of call. Downing pestle and mortar, Pierrette (Agulhon) welcomed us in from the rain, wiped her hands on her apron, took our wet clothes off us – not literally – and threw them straight in the drier. Bikes? In the garage at the back. “Stevenson came past our door of course,” she declared, “but they don’t like people walking along the road, so they have put the Stevenson trail footpath on the hill over there. Huh!”
At supper Pierrette took control, asking politely if we were quite sure when we ordered a wine from far-off Cahors and proposing instead something cheaper and more local, to go with the treats of the terroir she had in mind for us. We had crossed an important watershed, and were now in Languedoc wine country – the south of France! I sensed my companion bristle slightly, but we were glad we agreed to her recommendations. Pierrette was Veuve Clicquot’s pin-up Femme de Vin 1994, and she knows her stuff.
With a long ride ahead of us we asked for an early breakfast, and Pierrette was there in her dressing gown first thing, grinding the coffee beans and dishing out her home made cherry jam.
Price bands: from * (B&B for less than 50 euros per person in a shared room) to ***** (expect to pay at least 175 euros)