Pezenas sits on the plains between the Haut (“Upper”) Languedoc National Park and the Mediterranean coastline. It is a mere twenty minutes from the clean sandy beaches of the Herault, half an hour from the beautiful rugged hill country inland and half an hour from what is surely one of the world’s most attractive cities – Montpellier. Add to that the charm of a beautifully preserved town centre with its narrow streets, individually stylised architecture, alleys and squares where Moliere famously spent his days, and you begin to have the ingredients for a beautifully positioned location for that maison secondaire.
If you’re looking for a town base to explore all of the diversity of the Languedoc, then Pezenas is definitely a good spot. It’s within two and a half hours of skiing in the Alps, and one and a half hours from the Spanish border. Taking the family skiing is quite a common recreation with the French in this region, which can be done in a day trip from Pezenas. Closer to home are rivers to swim in, gorges to discover, vineyards to admire, charming circular villages and many places to eat well which are cheap and affordable.
Pezenas has the feel of a small town with plenty of charm. Take a walk around the back streets and you will wander through medieval alleyways and squares bordered by tall elegant individualised houses replete with charm. There is a beautifully preserved Jewish ghetto settlement dating back to the middle ages, and the town is famed for being the dwelling place of French writer Moliere. Today there are still a number of writers who live locally. Although small enough to be friendly, Pezenas is also big enough to offer cultural events, diversity, good facilities, and year round shopping, in particular in the artists’ workshops and antique shops. It gets busy in the summer with the draw of tourists. In common with most Languedoc towns the crime rate is low, the pace of life is slow and the living is easy.
For English speaking visitors, there is a cinema which plays English speaking (versione origionale) films once a week, a theatre, and for the British there is a British society in Pezenas that organises cricket matches with the local French from time to time! In addition there is an excellent open air pool and sporting complex, and a hospital. They are also building a new shopping mall on the outskirts of the D13 road. With its excellent facilities and location, it is easy to see why Pezenas is already a popular destination with the British, as well as the Dutch and Germans.
Unlike some parts of the Herault and Gard, Pezenas is shielded from the worst of the Mistral and the Tramontane, as it sits in-between the air flows of the two currents, catching the tail of the winds from the Rhone valley, and the tail of the Tramontane coming up the valley from Narbonne and Perpignan. And it is perhaps worth pointing out that like anywhere else in the Languedoc this area benefits from blue skies most of the year round, mild and short winters (still often reaching up to 14° Centigrade at midday, below zero at night) and long and hot sunny summers.
Pezenas is most easily reached by car and is just 30 minutes drive from Montpellier Airport.