Unlike its glamorous neighbour, the French Riviera, wilder and earthier Languedoc-Roussillon doesn’t do crowds. It does do sunflower meadows, rugged mountains, glorious beaches, fairytale castles, endless vineyards and unbelievably pretty towns and villages. It just doesn’t like to shout about it. We think a visit here will be amour at first sight.
Three main areas each have their own character. Bas-Languedoc is beaches and the captivating cities of Montpellier and Nîmes. Inland are the caves, gorges and forests of Haut-Languedoc. Roussillon shares close ties with Spain, including traditional folk dances and a passion for bullfights and vibrant summer festivals.
The main city is Montpellier, a thriving modern city with a historic centre; other major cities are Nimes, Narbonne, Sete and Perpignan. Some of the coast is built up, but there are some gems to be found here.
Inland is given over to agriculture, vineyards and fruits and vegetables. The land is also characterised by ‘garrigue’, rocky Mediterranean hills covered with scrub and aromatic bushes. North and northeast of Montpellier the valleys, more wooded and rural, give way to the Cevennes hills, the southeastern peaks of the Massif Central.
All of which makes Languedoc Roussillon a truly rustic delight. Slow the pace down and celebrate life. If you are looking for a little bit of je ne sais quoi, you’ll find it in Languedoc-Roussillon.
The region’s capital is compact yet graceful. Best explored by foot, bike or tram, sights such as La Cathédrale Saint-Pierre, La Place Royale du Peyrou and the botanic gardens will impress. Pleasing in almost every way, Montpellier offers stately buildings, elegant tree-lined avenues and white sand beaches on its doorstep.
The historic streets of Perpignan offer a taste of colourful culture and a rustic vibe. Framed by the Pyrenees, Perpignan’s ancient castle and Catalan-inspired architecture is stunning. The old town is a maze of alleys, pretty little squares and faded pastel buildings. Being so near Spain, this city knows how to throw a good fiesta.
Perched on a hilltop is the fairytale city of Carcassonne. The ancient castle, ramparts, watchtowers and city walls look like a set from a Disney film. Away from the crowds, the medieval old town and the river offer plenty of scopes to wander and savour the local way of life. It is especially magical at night when the castle is lit up.
Much like a Parisienne lady, Uzès is elegant yet understated. This small medieval town recently underwent a full restoration. Its historic white-stone buildings are once again pristine. Everyone walks, as there’s little need for cars. This is a warm and engaging place to spend time getting into the French way of life. It also has a surprising amount of excellent places to eat.
Le Canal du Midi
Dating from the 17th century, this tree-lined canal is so serene and beautiful it is now a UNESCO world heritage site. Hire a boat for a leisurely sojourn, or follow the shaded footpath on foot or by bike. If you get your timing right, fields of sunflowers guide your path.
Stunning mountains in one of the most sparsely populated areas of France. A maze of deep valleys with winding rivers. Hills covered in sweet chestnut and mulberry will have your senses working overtime. With national park status, there are also some impressive caves to dig into.
La Franqui and Leucate, near Narbonne, are stunning beaches, with the sea on one side, a lake on the other and golden sand in between. The region’s most famous beach, Argèles, is a fantastic location for water sports and there’s lots to keep the kids entertained.
Languedoc Roussillon Cuisine
Think local produce, bursting with sunshine flavour, made by a generous hand. Beaucoup de olive oil, tomatoes, thyme, rosemary and bay leaves. Local specialities include Thau basin oysters and le petit pâté de Pézenas, little pastry pies with a sweet filling. Paella is also widely on offer, celebrating close ties with neighbouring Spain.
Languedoc-Roussillon is one of the largest wine-producing regions in the world, so there’s a more than plentiful supply of great quality, great value wines to get your taste buds tingling.
From Michelin star restaurants to bistros packed with character, dining out is an art form across Languedoc-Roussillon. Everything is here for your pleasure. From long lunches in the company of card-playing villagers to oysters fresh from the water that morning. Whatever you are after – if it’s fresh and tasty, Languedoc-Roussillon will provide.
Supremely easygoing and not much bothered by tourists, Languedoc-Roussillon is slightly off-the-beaten-track – and proud of it. Medieval towns and villages ooze personality. Landscapes offer as much variety as a person can handle, from sparkling sea to craggy mountains.
But it’s not all so laid-back you’re horizontal. People know how to party, and they do so often. Almost every town and village throughout the region will fiesta at least once during the summer. Some of them do it several times over. You’ll always be welcome to join them.
All the while, everyday French life goes on all around. Everyone from families to wine lovers to independent travellers will find something to win their heart in Languedoc-Roussillon. It is, quite simply, la belle vie. Book your trip to Languedoc-Roussillon with easyJet holidays and make the experience stress-free. You will even save on your holiday if you book your hotel and flights together.