Every month, we introduce you to an interesting woman living in Languedoc. Curious as we are, we like to find out why she lives in this beautiful region, what she does for a living, and some of her Languedoc favourites. This month we would like you to meet the sparkling multitasker Julianne Grenier as Ramoneta of the Month. Wanting to chase her dream, she started the interior design shop ‘Comptoir des Explorateurs’ in Vias. And now, she travels the world to handpick every single item personally.
Originally from the Bordeaux region, I moved to Béziers (1 & 2) six years ago for the work of my- then- partner. It was the perfect opportunity to change careers, which I desperately wanted to do, instead of working at a bank. I dreamt about running my own shop with furniture and decorations from around the world. Following one of my favourite sayings: ‘Jump and the net will appear’. I took the leap.
Settling in Languedoc
To develop my idea into a business, I simply started. I decided to travel to Bali for a month alone to do product research. Back home, I had to make a selection from 6,000 photos and order the first container. Two months later, this container arrived in Béziers where, in the meantime, I had rented a space to start selling these products. I also created a Facebook and Instagram page to promote my business. And this is how Le Comptoir des Explorateurs saw the light; it all started with this one container from Bali!
Le Comptoir des Explorateurs
In my shop, Le Comptoir des Explorateurs (3 & 4), I sell furniture and decor made by artisans worldwide. In my Alibaba’s cave, you can find products made by craftsmen and women from six countries: India, Madagascar, Morocco, Portugal, Senegal and South Africa. I personally handpick every item in my shop during my travels to these countries. My purchasing policy is simple: if I have a crush on it, I buy it; if I don’t, it doesn’t deserve a spot in my container. I do buy a lot of stuff though, although only in small quantities. Therefore, I know every story behind my finds, and that’s why you will only find unique pieces with a soul and a history. It’s my business, but I do get a lot of help from my partner Loïc and my father. And even my son- at nine years old- knows how to roll up his sleeves!
The minute you enter Le Comptoir des Explorateurs, you leave France. On a floor space of 400 m2, I style decors with a mix of products from various countries. From beautifully carved Balinese doors and sideboards to woven baskets with individually glued shells and hand painted ostrich eggs from South Africa. And so much more, too much to mention, really… There is plenty of choice, especially after the arrival of new treasures! During the high season, from April to August, I receive one container a month. And after every batch, I completely empty the shop (yes, the whole 400 m2) so I can make a fresh start with new decorative corners. From April to September, you can also visit our small boutique in the centre of Pézenas. But if you want more inspiration, I invite you to the showroom in Vias, which is open year-round.
Twice a year, in June and November, I organise a ‘marché artisanal’. On a Sunday, about 50 local artisans and crafters spread their goods on stalls outside the shop. It’s great fun and the perfect opportunity to inhale more inspiration and find original gifts- to give away or for yourself. Keep an eye on my socials to find out about the date.
Association Anak in Bali
Travelling to different parts of the globe allows me to meet the most incredible and talented people. It also reminds that not everybody is as fortunate as we are. Therefore, I yearly transfer a percentage of Le Comptoir des Explorateurs’ profit to the Anak association in Bali. This non-profit helps Indonesian children by guiding them through their education. And I feel that by supporting them, I can give something back that is more valuable than money.
Living in the South of France
The Biterrois region is very different from the Bordeaux one. I used to live in the countryside, whereas now I live in the city of Béziers and have everything at my doorstep. Of course, I like the climate, but also the diversity in landscapes and welcoming people add to the pluses. Les Comptoir des Explorateurs is in Vias, close to Béziers. However, at the same time it only takes me 10 minutes to go to the beach after closing the boutique. It’s perfect for relaxing and enjoying a family picnic with our feet in the sand.
Best Languedoc wine
I’m definitely more of a white wine drinker when I have a glass of wine. Across the street from the shop happens to be an excellent wine estate: Domaine Preignes Le Vieux. It’s a family estate, and now the fifth generation is at the helm. Their white wines are divine, and we love to go there sometimes after work. You can also sign up for a visit, it’s a great stop if you’re on your way to (or coming from) the beach.
In the summer, my family and I love to go to one of the numerous ‘paillotes’- the seasonal beach restaurants. Also, we like going to one of the restaurants on the Place de la Madeleine in Béziers. We don’t really have a favourite, as we like to vary a lot. Apart from our little tradition on Sunday mornings, those are reserved for tasting oysters at Les Halles in Béziers.
Perfect day out in Languedoc
If you are passionate about your work like I am, a lot of time goes into it. But on the occasions when I do have free time, I like to take the family to the Gorges d’Héric (5) and have a picnic and a plunge in one of the rock pools. Or do one of my favourite walks in the area of Gruissan at the Étang du Doul (6). Perfect to boost your energy!