france

The Story of my trip to Narbonne (South of France) – and why YOU should visit!

“Seriously?! You’re going to Narbonne….without me?”

Those were the words that came out of my boyfriend’s mouth after I told him I’d continue traveling for a week, instead of going home right after my trip to Toulouse. Little did I know that he had planned for us to explore that town together. Little did I know that he even knew anything about Narbonne at all – because I sure didn’t (then again, I’m not the French one in this relationship).

My reason for booking a night in Narbonne was no other than it being conveniently located as an overnight stay, before continuing my journey to Spain. Based on the photos I’d seen online, it did also look like a nice little place to hang out for a day. Not even for a second did it cross my mind that my significant other had considered it as a perfect location for a romantic weekend getaway and the ultimate place to go for a wine tasting experience.

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As I arrived at the Gare Routière (the bus station), I was greeted with sunshine. And heat. My black polka dot dress was accessorized with black tights underneath, and my cleavage and bare sleeves were hidden inside of my denim jacket. For the climate back home, that would have been a perfectly appropriate outfit for a spring day. Maybe I’d even add a scarf, just for the sake of layering. But here, all those layers were killing me. I was sweating like a pig. I felt like the spirit of the town was calling me, saying something along the lines of “welcome to Narbonne. Now, take off your clothes!”

My accommodation for the night was a lovely bed&breakfast called La Maison Gustave. The girl at the reception helped me carry my luggage to the room and gave me a list of restaurants to check out and things to do in Narbonne. The room looked exactly like the kind of bedroom I always wished I had; Scandinavian style interior, light colors and with a gorgeous view from the window. From my room I could see the old palace and it looked absolutely amazing! I don’t know about you, but that sure beats the view I’ve got from my bedroom window at home (view over a large construction site).

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For one second there, I imagined all the gorgeous Instagram-photos that could’ve been shot there. Just imagine a large coffee cup and avocado toasts and me in a silk robe, as part of a pretend “breakfast in bed” sorta photo shoot …Or don’t.

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I removed my sticky black tights and took off my jacket before heading out to explore the town. I wanted to visit the palace (Palais des Archevêques) and the Narbonne Cathedral which is situated right next to the palace, and I wanted to take some beautiful photos by the Canal de la Robine.

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As much as I’d like to pretend I’m not, I’m probably always gonna be that stereotypical woman who loves to go shopping. My fingers were itching to spend money on something new – whether it would be artisan biscuits, new books, sandals, hair care products, whatever. But, being on a limited budget I decided I’d be better off splurging on a huge meal later, instead of buying a bunch of stuff I’d have to carry around for the rest of my journey. So I went to a bakery and bought myself a pastry instead.

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Biggest regret of the day. The pastry, a religieuse (why on earth that thing is called “religious” remains a mystery to me), left my hands sticky with melted chocolate sauce going everywhere, while chocolate cream kept pouring out as I took a bite of the pastry. How was it even possible to stuff that much cream inside of that little thing? And why didn’t anyone ever tell me those should be eaten with a spoon, and not with my hands. My face ended up looking like a two year old’s face after eating chocolate cake for the very first time. Good thing I wasn’t there on a date!

I wandered around for a couple of hours until my feet started hurting, thanks to the combination of poor quality shoes and sweaty, swollen feet. Whoever said ballet flats are good for long walks is a big fat liar. By then I’d done quite a lot of window shopping (and no actual shopping), I’d visited the Tourism Office (to find out what I could have done in Narbonne if I had more time – or a car), I’d gotten lost while wandering off to places that turned out to be all residential neighborhoods with nothing to see (where an old man laughed at me and said “clearly you’re lost, little girl” in French).

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I finished the evening with a kind of expensive but delicious meal at Restaurant Gaia. The waiters were surprised, and seemed quite confused – kind of uncomfortable, even – to see someone enter the restaurant without a companion. As if solo travelers don’t eat?

Because of this strange welcome, I already regretted entering the restaurant by myself. I should have just ordered a burger somewhere. It would have made me feel less humiliated. But getting up as soon as I’d been seated, to make my great escape would look even more ridiculous, so I decided to stay.

I ordered a three-course menu, completely forgetting about the fact that I was alone and should have just gone for a main dish and get the eff out of there as soon as possible. To make matters worse, they didn’t serve wine by the glass, so I had to take a half bottle. Fine, I thought. It was probably small anyway. Right?

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Wrong. It got me drunk. And the staff gave me a bunch of magazines to read, while eating. Probably because I looked like a sad, lonely, pathetic little girl who’s getting drunk on her own and comfort-eating like crazy. I’m sure they thought I was single, with six cats waiting for me at home. I’m sure I would have thought the same if someone like me walked into a fancy restaurant all by herself, got drunk and ate a huge meal – without anyone to share the experience with.

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I must admit, though, the food was pretty damn delicious. By the time I got the dessert, I was too drunk to remember to take a picture. Hence its absence.

Before going to sleep, I watched Eurovision on TV and let my sweaty, swollen feet rest on the comfortable, Instagrammable bed.

Narbonne, I shall re-visit you. But next time, I’m bringing a plus one!

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So, if this post made you go “I’ll put some pants on, pack my bags and go there ASAP”, here are some ideas for what to do in Narbonne (apart from the things already mentioned):

In the town center:

Near Narbonne (by car)

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24 comments on “The Story of my trip to Narbonne (South of France) – and why YOU should visit!

  1. The south of France looks wonderful. I am hoping to visit on a Road trip from Barcelona next week actually! I will check how close this places is and go there if I can. Thanks for the tips!

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  2. Nicole Anderson

    What a lovely little place with so much history and charm. I agree though that it would be better to visit with your other half. You would think that the restaurant staff might have been more thoughtful and actually welcoming. After all, singles bringing them custom is still business! Very silly of them to essentially turn off that market as surely you wouldn’t be the only single traveler to visit. Would also be good to go to the nearby wineries – but with someone next time to share the experience if possible.

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  3. Hahahaha! I love your description of eating the religious pastry! I’ve made similar mistakes! Thankfully, I usually have baby wipes on me. Sometimes those pastries just are impossible to eat gracefully!

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  4. I have been to Paris and nearby areas but never been to South of France. Narbonne looks so beautiful and I must make my plan for this place. The view from your hotel window is worth. I would love to go for wine tasting tours near Narbonne. On my wishlist.

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  5. A lovely experience for travelling on your own. I too have had no issues with sitting in a restaurant on my own and ordering a nice meal. The town itself seems like a beautiful place to explore

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  6. Narbonne seems to be a lovely picturesque town, great for a romantic getaway. The bed and breakfast you found totally matches the area, love the bed shot. The pastry is actually my favourite, called moorkop in Dutch, there is no way of eating it properly LOL.

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  7. ravenoustravellers

    Loved reading this post as I’d never heard of Narbonne before – it looks like a quaint and beautiful place to visit. We love visiting markets so we’d be sure to check out the indoor market. Also – the meal you had looked absolutely delicious, and it seems like you enjoyed it especially with the half bottle of wine haha!

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  8. I have never heard of Narbonne but what a beautiful place. I can totally relate to people looking at your uncomfortable when you enter a restaurant without a companion, as I solo travel alot because my husband has to work.

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  9. You definitely convince me now to visit Narbonne! I didn’t know much about this place, but it seems so interesting and cute through the description from your post. Even I travel alone but I would love to order 3-course menu as well!

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  10. Narbonne seems like an amazing and outstanding place! Thanks for the recommendation!

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  11. jenruizwriter

    That is so funny! I’m gonna be in the South of France the first week of July and will beware the cream filled pastries haha 🙂

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  12. I love your sense of humor! Now you know you’ll have to go back and let your boy friend show you around 😛

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