Strongly linked to the local land, its cuisine and the art of living, you can also live and breathe rugby in Occitanie through its accommodation, restaurants and wine estates, in which current and former players have invested, naturally, and to offer you the best possible experience.
Stay at the Barthas family estate near Castelnau-Magnoac, Hautes-Pyrénées, the home of French international scrum half, and World Rugby Men's 15s Player of the Year 2021, Antoine Dupont. Run by the Dupont family over five generations, people flock to the Barthas estate restaurant from far and wide to taste its braised duck breast served in a casserole dish.
The fully renovated "Domaine de Barthas - métairie Dupont" can be hired for events, seminars and weddings, with accommodation for up to 49 people, a swimming pool, and even, rugby courses.
The former RC Narbonne star, Guy Spanghero, opened a three-star hotel with his brothers in 2021. Located just 30 minutes away from Toulouse, Spanghero's hotel is wholly dedicated to rugby; it even has it own rugby-themed pub and restaurant: Twickenham Pub. A collector of international rugby shirts worn by the best players from all nations, Guy Spanghero has lined the walls of the hotel's rooms, corridors and pub with 180 shirts, some of which are more than 50 years old. His bar and restaurant is also imbued with the cosy feel of a traditional pub.
Many ex-pros have opened restaurants, such as Gilles Belzons (nicknamed "Bébelle" ["Mr Chaos"]), Gilles Bourguignon and Franck Tournaire in Narbonne, the Galletiter cousins in Montpellier, and Christian CONSTANT in Paris, Toulouse et Montech.
Les Halles is an institution in its own right in Narbonne. This colourful, aroma-packed and bustling market embodies the nature of the town and its inhabitants, and is now home to the most spectacular indoor markets in France, where Gilles and his family (three generations of rugby players) have opened a bar and grill adorned with rugby shirts. "Bébelle" puts on a show for all its punters, announcing your orders over a megaphone to the artisan butchers in Les Halles, while also catching flying pieces of securely wrapped-up food like a true flanker.
This form of service has been emulated elsewhere in Halles du Lez, Montpellier, where Gilles has opened another bar and grill in partnership with the cousins Kélian and Guillaume Galletier, former stars of Club Montpellier Hérault Rugby and current owners of a more classic restaurant, "La Maison Bébelle," a renovated old monastery opposite Halles de Narbonne.
The Narbonne-born former international rugby player and current head coach of Carcassonne, Franck Tournaire, now owns the Narbonne-based restaurant "Chez Jo,"an establishment ubiquitously known for its delectable meat dishes.
First opened in 1995 in Toulouse, close to Victor Hugo Market, J'Go has become an institution, with both its dishes and atmosphere embodying the true spirit of rugby.
Its founder, Guy Méliet, wanted to be "classed as a country bumpkin, because [he] grew up in the rural world." This down-to-earth and genuine man, a gentleman like any other highly respected rugby player, believed strongly in products originating from the farms and gardens of Gascony, spit-roasted legs of lamb, haricot beans, and fries cooked in duck fat, which are in keeping with the rugby values upheld by his establishment. He has introduced the people of Toulouse to Pastifret (traditional fresh pâté from Gascon farms), which goes down perfectly well with a bottle of Gers white Tarriquet. Alongside his trusted teammates, Guy Méliet lights up the Stade de France whenever Stade Toulousain win yet another French title.
This team chemistry has already taken over Paris, where the tastes of J’GO, thanks to the support of Fabien Galtié, are now savoured in Rue Douot and close to Saint-Germain-des-Prés Market.
From playing for France to producing one of "Occitanie's greatest treasures".
The 1980s Narbonne cult hero Gilles Bourguignon is now the fine owner of several bakeries in Narbonne and the surrounding area.
His range of biscuits sold under the brand name "Trésors d'Occitanie" (meaning "Occitanie's greatest treasures") are exported as far as the Middle-East, especially his "crosetas" in the form of the Occitan cross, the official symbol of the Occitanie region.
Christian Constant, a Michelin-star chef at "Le Violon d'Ingres restaurant in Paris, will happily remind people that "a kitchen is like a rugby team. There is no such thing as a leader and the rest. Everyone must pull together to ensure progress." The former US Montauban star now owns six restaurants, including two in Occitanie. Bask in the delight of Brasserie Le Bibent in Place du Capitole Toulouse, or enjoy the peaceful atmosphere of Bistrot Constant in Montech.
Gérard Bertrand has found great success in wine production and tourism.
Born in Narbonne, where he first started playing rugby, before ending his career as captain of the Parisian side Stade français, Gérard Bertrand assumed ownership of the family wine estate, Domaine de L'Hospitalet, following his father's death in 1995, fully dedicating himself to winemaking ever since. Gérard Bertrand has built a large winemaking group under his own name, promoting Languedoc wines, both domestically and internationally, through its sales to 150 countries.
He his now diversifying his offer, capitalising on the possibilities on wine tourism, with a hotel complex featuring a gourmet restaurant idyllically positioned between his vineyards and the sea, where he holds a jazz festival every summer.
Now based in Gaillac, the former Stade Toulousain star Yannick Jauzion has also pursued a career in winemaking after hanging up his boots, associating his name with the Aligança label, while the ex-Rodez, Castres and Montepellier player Sébastien Galtier produces exquisite organic wines on his Mas des Colibris estate.