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Roquebrun is renowned for its benign microclimate that favours the nurturing of fine wines. You'll recognise it from a distance by its ruined 10th-century tower poking skywards. In early February, the countryside all around is a bright-yellow blaze of mimosa - there's even a Fête du Mimosa with a procession and a blessing of the plant by the village priest.

Roquebrun's Tourist Office ( % 04 67 89 79 97; www.roquebrun.org in French; av des Orangers; S 9am-noon & 3-5pm Mon-Sat, 9am-noon Sun Jul & Aug, 9am-noon & 2-5pm Mon-Sat Jun & Sep, 9am-noon & 2-5pm Mon-Fri rest of yr) is on the village side of the bridge.

Keen gardeners might want to visit the Jardin Méditerranéen ( % 04 67 89 55 29; www.jardin -mediterraneen.fr in French; adult/6-15yr/under 6yr €4.50/2.50/ free; S 9am-7pm Jul & Aug, 9am-noon & 1.30-5.30pm Sun-Fri, 9am-noon Sat mid-Feb-Jun & Sep-mid-Nov), where more than 400 species, both local and colli lected from similarly arid climates around the world, thrive in the thin soil. ^KM In the past, cereals and vegetables grew

■ in abundance on the flat, narrow plain at Roquebrun's feet, while vines flourished on the steep hillsides. Difficult to work, they still ^kh retain traces of terracing, long ago abandoned K3 and tumbling. Nowadays, every spare patch of valley sprouts vines and every second house seems to be a cave. The village is justifiably I proud of the recently awarded appellation contrôlée status accorded to its Saint-Chinian Roquebrun wines. To sample this and other local labels, call in at the Cave de Roquebrun ( % 04 67 89 64 35; www.cave-roquebrun.fr; rue des Orangers; S 9am-1pm & 3-7.30pm Jul & Aug, 9.30am-1pm & 2.30-7pm May, Jun, Sep & Oct, 9.30am-12.30pm & 2-6pm Nov-Apr) at the Olargues exit to the village.

Just upstream from Roquebrun's sturdy, six-arched stone bridge over the Orb, Grandeur Nature ( % 04 67 89 52 90; www.canoe-france.com/orb; S mid-Apr-Sep) rents canoes and kayaks. By the waterside, children can feed the flotilla of ducks that nest hereabouts.

There's a small beach just downstream from the bridge where you can stretch out or take a cooling dip in the river.

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