La Ramoneta of the month – Johanna Wrenby

Johanna Wrenby
© Johanna Wrenby

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 dazzling Johanna Wrenby as Ramoneta of the Month. She runs Le Flamant Rouge Guesthouse in Peyriac-de-Mer, adding her artistic and linguistic touch.


Being a city girl, I had always lived in the city centre of Stockholm, Sweden. Since I started work, I gained a lot of experience in many different jobs, from project manager for a theatre to an agent representing kitchenware.

First time visiting the region

I was around 40 years old when I first came to the Languedoc region. My boyfriend at the time had a daughter who lived near Montpellier (1), and I completely fell in love with this region. I remember that I got off the plane and smelled the lovely garrigue for the first time. I was so overwhelmed by this pure scent that I started to cry.

Our visits to Montpellier awakened the France feeling in me and I wanted to learn the language. So, back home, I started to study by watching French television, listening to French music, and taking lessons from a tutor. It was clear that I wanted to live in France, and I wanted to be prepared!

Settling in Languedoc

In 2015, I was single and needed a change of life. By chance, I discovered this beautiful guesthouse in Peyriac-de-Mer (2) through friends. It was Le Flamant Rouge- The Red Flamingo- and I decided to spend a three-week holiday here in the summer of that year. In 2017, the opportunity to buy Le Flamant Rouge came up, and I jumped in.

You could say that I succeeded in changing my life. Somehow, time seems to move more slowly since turning my life upside down. I create more memories. And even when it’s tough sometimes, I am so proud when I manage it. Funny enough, the biggest change wasn’t moving countries but from a city- Stockholm- to a village- Peyriac-de-Mer- with only 1,200 inhabitants. It helped a lot that I already spoke French, which made the move easier. And for the last couple of years, I stay in my apartment in nearby Perpignan during the winter months. This way, I can combine the best of both worlds.

Johanna Wrenby
© Johanna Wrenby (picture on the left)

Le Flamant Rouge

My guesthouse Le Flamant Rouge (3 & 4) dates from the late 19th century and was built by wealthy winegrowers. You will find it in the middle of Peyriac-de-Mer, a lovely village along several beautiful lagoons. There are four guest rooms, each named after a famous French person. The decoration in each room matches the spirits of Edith Piaf, Coco Chanel, Georges Braque and Albert Camus. As a ‘Chambre d’Hôtes’, the stay includes breakfast, which guests can enjoy in the shared dining room. Here, they will also find a fridge and microwave to use.

Although the Bed & Breakfast already existed when I bought it in 2017, I have updated it to my taste. However, the soul of the house is still there, including old details complemented with second-hand brocante finds. My foreign guests love the style, as it is ‘so French’, whereas my French visitors go back in time as it reminds them of their granny (‘mamie’ in French).

Language courses

If you like, you can come and learn French with me. In the summer, I offer this extra service to my guesthouse visitors. I am flexible and can make a personalised schedule according to your level of French and your wishes. Besides one-on-one courses, I also teach online. This idea came to me when I considered what I could do during the quieter winter months. My level of French is good, C1 level, which is advanced. Also, I love sharing my knowledge so that I can make French life more understandable.

Setting up a business in France

It is challenging to create a business here due to the many rules and bureaucracy. Luckily, as a one-person business in France, I could register as a so-called auto entrepreneur. This type of business is quite easy to set up, and it helps that I am fluent in French. However, I always double-check the information I receive from my advisors on Google, just to be sure. I would advise against starting a Chambre d’Hôtes by yourself. It is so much easier to start with an existing business like I did. At Le Flamant Rouge, everything was already there, and I could begin work immediately.

Johanna Wrenby
© Johanna Wrenby

Living in the South of France

The country itself has everything I love: the culture, food and wine, of course. Surprisingly enough, I didn’t come to the South of France for the climate, although that’s a nice bonus.

To me, one of the most striking cultural differences was to make friends. Being Swedish, I kind of expected to be invited out by the French. But this is not how it works over here. I realised that to get in contact with my neighbours and fellow villagers, I should simply meet them in everyday situations. So, I started to have chats at the boulangerie and the local café for example. And after a while, I made some French friends. Now, I invite them to parties at my house, including friends from all over the world that I also met here.

Best Languedoc wine

The family wine estate of Domaine des Creisses in Valros produces beautiful wines- for over 110 years! Their red wines from 2020 are classified as one of the 25 best wines in Languedoc-Roussillon. I especially like their Les Creisses range, with a mix of 50% Syrah, 40% Grenache and 10% Cabernet-Sauvignon.

Favourite restaurant

It’s a feast to order fresh oysters directly from the oyster farms at Port Leucate (5). You will find about twenty shops dotted around the harbour that sell plates full of these salty delights. Of course, it’s best is to pair them with a local white wine like a Picpoul de Pinet. I highly recommend this place to seafood lovers!

Perfect day out in Languedoc

Life is simple in the South of France, and therefore my perfect day simply includes some shopping in Perpignan, followed by a delicious lunch- outside on the terrace, of course. Later on, I would pack up a homemade picnic basket with a nice bottle of wine and head to the beach (6) with a couple of friends. As I said earlier, it’s all about creating memories, and days like that are definitely worth remembering.


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