Our programme in Languedoc is centred around the coastline between Narbonne and Montpellier, encompassing historic Béziers and the popular coastal resorts of Agde and Sète, as well as picturesque villages such as Pézenas nestling in the vine-covered countryside set back from the coast.
The region’s numerous beaches are well set up to welcome visitors, with convenient amenities on hand, water sports and activities to please all the family, and entertainments aplenty.
The principal city, Montpellier, has an attractive historic centre with good museums, whilst Nîmes has a particularly impressive Roman heritage including an amphitheatre. The old towns of Narbonne and Béziers are also charming places to discover, and the latter boasts an unusual aqueduct bridge over the river.
This region is blessed with plenty of long sandy beaches, offering visitors numerous activities and good amenities. One of the most well-known resorts is Agde, a pretty town with several beaches, and a large water park which will appeal to youngsters. Sète is a busy fishing port, and is also where the Canal du Midi waterway begins its journey to Toulouse. Its beaches are popular with kite-surfers, but those looking for a more sheltered beach can head round the other side of the lake behind Sète. The nearest lakeside town is Balaruc les Bains, reputed for its thermal waters.
Further west, there are excellent beaches with a family-friendly feel at Narbonne-Plage and Valras-Plage, and active types and nature lovers will be delighted by the opportunities and scenery of the beautiful protected natural park beyond Narbonne.
The traditional cuisine of this area ranges from typical mountain fare such as hearty meat and bean stews to lighter seafood stews by the coast, both with the addition of aioli, a delicious garlicky sauce. When in Sète, the dish to try is Rouille de Seiche, which translates as “cuttlefish rust”, due to the colour of the tomato sauce in which the fish is cooked. Or perhaps you will go for ‘Clapassade’, which is lamb slowly cooked with honey, olives, and star anise. In the south, a Catalan influence is notable, with dishes such as meatballs and snails.
We must also mention the fruit of the vine, as this is a key vinicultural area. A great variety of wines are made here, of all colours, but often Carignan or Grenache grapes are used. Many wineries will welcome you for tastings.
Language and culture
This is a fascinating region to experience, where mountain meets coast, and Occitan (old French) heritage meets Spanish and Catalan influence in the architecture, food and culture. The name Languedoc is a reference to the ‘language(s) of Oc’, which used to be spoken in this part of France. Its closest relative today is Catalan, the language of neighbouring Catalunya.
The Languedoc is also where the Cathar religion, a variant of Christianity, first emerged in France. A turbulent history of persecution and resistance has created a rich legacy to discover, particularly around Carcassonne and Béziers.
The weather here is typically Mediterranean, with very mild springs and autumns and long, hot and consistently dry summers. The average temperature is nearly 24°C in summer, and often over 30°C during the day.