Places of Languedoc
Languedoc is one of the most popular choices for south of France holidays and takes its name from langue d’oc a language closely related to today’s Catalan and quite distinct from langue d’oil the forerunner of modern French. Languedoc stretches from the Rhone valley in the east to the Spanish border in the south west and comprises of five main areas these are Hérault, Aude, Gard, Eastern Pyrenees and Lozère.
With its many Medieval fortresses, Roman architectures such as viaducts and colosseums, endless vineyards, historical villages, superb beaches and mountains, Languedoc has it all as well as a wonderful climate. The coastal plains of Languedoc rarely freeze in the winter due to the Mediterranean although get up into the mountains of the Pyrenees or into the Cevennes and you will find some world class skiing. Summer temperatures are frequently in the 80s (30C plus) with an average of 2,506 sunshine hours per year.
Pezenas – Pezenas was the seat of the local government in Languedoc during the 16th and 17th centuries, resulting in beautiful architecture, stone staircases and wrought iron balconies. Once the home of the famous playwright Moliere today Pezenas is filled with artisans and their creatives products as well as nice cafes, restaurants and boutique gift shops.
Montpellier is the vibrant capital of Languedoc and is the fastest growing city in France. At the heart of Montpellier is the place de la comédie, a car free central square, which is surrounded by grand buildings and cafés. Pleasant tree lined promenades lead into the, mostly pedestrianised, historic centre, with plenty of boutique shops, resaurants and cafés.
Nimes is the capital city of Gard and is steeped in history going back to the Roman empire. This is a place where you can stumble accross a maginificent Roman ampitheatre, an intact 4th Century BC Roman theatre or Roman aquaducts and bridges as you wander the streets and tree lined boulevards. As well as this Nimes is surrounded by vineyards and feilds of lavender and has approximately 300 days of sunshine per year.
Ales is Gards second largest town in Gard and is an attractive town with many nearby attractions as well as being the gateway to the Parc National des Cevennes. Ales is well known as being the home of Van Gogh for a short time and you can visit various buildings related to his stay.
Béziers was first settled by the phoenicians which later became a Roman military post. Today it is mostly known for two things, wine and bullfighting and hosts the Feria de Béziers, a five day bullfighting event in August which attracts a million visitors.
Narbonne was once one of the principal Roman cities in Gaul and was a major coastal port. Today you can find nice walks along the tree lined canal or visit the manificent Cathédrale St-Just in the centre of the town. On the banks of the canal is the Halles, which is one of Frances best covered markets.
Carcassonne was added to the UNESCO world heritage list in 1997 and sits atop a hill looking like something out of a fairytale book. Carcossonne is comprised of two cities in one with one part of the city, known as La Cité being surrounded by fortified walls. With a late setting sun hitting the fortified walls in the evening the sight is quite magical. The lower part of the city is also worth a look and is known as the Ville Basse and has plenty of boutique shops and cafés for you to relax and unwind.
The Parc National Des Cévennes is the heart of the Cevennes and was made a national park in 1970 as well as being classified by UNESCO as a world biosphere reserve. The Parc is a land full of valleys and winding rivers as well as having a multitude of plants and animals. You will find a scattering of quaint hamlets surrounded by forests of mulberry and chestnut, as well as seeing deer, vutures and beavers. Robert Louis Stevenson wrote his book Travels with a Donkey in the Cévennes in 1870. The Cévennes were much wilder and untamed when Stevenson crossed them with his donkey in 1878.
The coastal area is well known for it’s superb long sandy beaches as well as for its fascinating coastal towns such as Sète which is France’s largest Mediterranean port. Sète wraps itself around the Mont-St Clair promontory, with the old quarter straddling the Canal Royal, which holds the famous water jousting championships during August. There are plenty of good bars and restaurants as well as fine beaches that make Sète a great place to visit.