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Poitou-Charentes

February 16, 2016 Regional guides

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Poitou-Charentes

  • Capital: Poitiers
  • Population: 1,640,068 (2,8% of french population)
  • Specialities: Marennes-Oléron oysters, goat’s cheeses, butter, melon, Cognac, Pineau des Charentes (blend of cognac and grape juice)

Background on Poitou-Charentes

Located in Western France between the north of Bordeaux and the south of Paris, Poitou-Charentes is a rich and varied region full of contrasts. It is made up of the four departments of Charente, Charente-Maritime, Deux-Sevres and Vienne. Its astonishing diversity is expressed in terms of a genuine art of living, harmonizing conviviality and authenticity. From country green to ocean blue, the region showers nature lovers with a multitude of colours. Canoe trip amateurs or season hikers, the new “explorers” of Poitou-Charentes will venture from one surprise to the next.

Over 350 kilometers of coastline, chalky cliffs and wild sites alternating with smooth sandy beaches wind their way down the Charente seashore lined with pine trees. The Atlantic seaboard is protected by four islands. Oléron and Ré the two largest, are linked to the continent by bridges. Take advantage of the quietness in the Marais Poitevin aptly named “Green Venice”, a mysterious labyrinth of waterways.

Discover the secrets of the world famous Cognac by visiting cellars and distilleries. Take a cruise on the Charente river or enjoy unique sensations in the futuristic universe of Futuroscope, the European Park of the Moving Image near Poitiers. And don’t forget to taste the regional flavours such as oysters, goat’s cheeses, melons …

More than a simple tourist destination, Poitou-Charentes is a land of traditions in which history holds a place of choice in the heart of its people. In the town centres or near the fortifications, each monument bears the indelible trace of Roman art and architecture. This can be seen in Saintes, Poitiers or in the churches at Saint-Savin, Talmont and Chauvigny.

For countless generations, the women and men of Poitou-Charentes have kept a discreet and inexhaustible treasure of myths and legends. Warm, rather modest and quiet, the locals enjoy the sweetness of life, to take their time, and welcome guests with “savoir-faire”. Take up this true invitation to discover the pleasures of this mild and sunny region.

By plane, Poitou-Charentes is easily accessible from London Stansted (La Rochelle and Poitiers) and Paris airports. By sea, the nearest ferry ports are Caen, Calais, Le Havre and Saint-Malo. By rail, it is only a couple of hours away from Paris by TGV train (Futuroscope 1.20 hr, Poitiers 1.30 hrs and La Rochelle 2.50 hrs).

Facts and figures

  • Capital: Poitiers
  • Population: 1,640,068 (2,8% of french population)
  • Density: 64 per sq. km (France = 108.2 per sq. km)
  • Area: 25,809 sq. km (9,965 sq. miles) representing 4,7% of France
  • Economy: Services (67,8%), industry (26,6%), agriculture (5,6%)
  • Specialities: Marennes-Oléron oysters, goat’s cheeses, butter, melon, Cognac, Pineau des Charentes (blend of cognac and grape juice)

Tourism

  • 364 kms of coastline
  • 42 marinas
  • 5 registered hiking trails
  • 16 Golf courses – see them at http://www.golflounge.com
  • 777 hotels, 446 campsites, 1,756 gîtes and chambres d’hôtes (B&B)
  • Most popular touristic places include, the islands of Noirmoutier, Oléron, Ré and Aix, the Aquarium and port of La Rochelle, the Zoo de la Palmyre (near Royan) the Marais Poitevin, Poitiers and the nearby Futuroscope

Important Links

To find out more about the Poitou-Charentes region visit:

Brittany

February 16, 2016 Regional guides

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Brittany

  • Capital: Rennes
  • Population: 2,920,000 (4,8% of French population)
  • Specialities: Crêpes, cider, seafood, Kouign Amman cake, strawberries, artichokes

Background on Brittany

Brittany is a land rich in contrasts, made up of the four departments of Finistère, Côtes-d’Armor, Ille-Et-Villaine and Morbihan. It is steeped in history and tradition and is proud of its strong maritime culture. A favoured holiday destination for the French and Brits, it’s 600 km of fine, sandy coastline curves around the north western tip of France, enclosing 27,500 sq. km of fertile countryside and quaint market towns. The Breton people are hardy, down to earth and friendly. They remain close to the land, the sea and their culture. Breton is still spoken in a few areas and local traditions are upheld at the many lively festivals and fest noz of the summer months.

Known by the Celts as Armorica, “land of the sea”, Brittany has a long and lively past. Prehistoric megaliths (standing stones) rise up from the ground around Carnac and it is said that young King Arthur received the sword of Excalibur from the fairy Vivian in the Paimpont Forest, 40 km south of Rennes. Half-timbered buildings characterize the bustling, medieval towns of Vannes, Dinan and Rennes, while the castles and fortresses of St. Malo, Fougères and Vitré bear witness to Brittany’s strategic location. The region’s beauty has attracted many artists and the lovely town of Pont-Aven is lined with galleries showing works of painters past and present.

From cornfield to oyster bed, woodland walk to long sandy beach, modern shipping port to charming, historical town, there is something for everyone in this varied and dynamic region. Rennes, situated in Ille-et-Villaine, has been Brittany’s capital since the 16th century. Home to the Breton houses of parliament, it is a hive of cultural activity, nurtured by the large student population. The Côtes-d’Armor on the northern shore is lined with seaside resorts, pink granite coves and traditional fishing ports. Morbihan, on the southern coast is backed by wooded river valleys and has a gentler feel and a milder climate. Exposed to the rough Atlantic winds, Finistère in the west has drama. The name aptly means “the end of the earth”.

The region is known for its excellent seafood (Concarneau is particularly famous for its oysters and mussels which are brought straight up from the shoreline beds), sweet crepes and savoury buckwheat pancakes, cider, “galettes” biscuits and buttery Kouign Amman cake. It offers a wide variety of sports including sailing, windsurfing, fishing, golf, hiking, mountain biking and horse riding.

Brittany is a land of spirit and character where history, art, culture and nature live side by side with all today’s modern services. Shopping is always close by and plentiful. Traveling is fast and easy – Paris is only 2 hours by train from Rennes, ferries run from two ports to the UK and there is a very good network of free dual carriageways.

Discover the delights of this beautiful region, so diverse and rich in contrasts, where you will find and live the best of all worlds.

Facts and figures

  • Capital: Rennes
  • Population: 2,920,000 (4,8% of French population)
  • Density: 107,5 per sq. km (France = 108,2 per sq. km)
  • Area: 27,507 sq. km (10,620 sq. miles) representing 5% of France
  • Economy: Services (69,1%), industry (25,1%), agriculture (5,7%)
  • Specialities: Crêpes, cider, seafood, Kouign Amman cake, strawberries, artichokes

Tourism

  • 600 km of coastline
  • Over 1100 km of cycling tracks on 74 circuits
  • Horse-riding: 2000 km of paths, rides along the beach, woodland treks
  • 11 golf courses. See them at www.golflounge.com
  • A total of 11,6 million stays (68,2 millions nights)
  • Over 900 hotels, 800 camp sites and 10,000 furnished or rural lodgings

Important Links

To find out more about the Brittany region visit:

Aquitaine

February 16, 2016 Regional guides

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Aquitaine

  • Capital: Bordeaux
  • Population: 2,923,000 (4,8% of French population)
  • Specialities: Famous wines (Médoc, Pomerol, Saint-Emilion and Sauternes), Jurançon, the Armagnac, foie gras, jambon de Bayonne, fish and oysters, truffles.

Background on Aquitaine

Julius Caesar named the south-western part of France Aquitaine, after the Latin word “aqua”, meaning water. This was because his troops discovered an abundance of thermal springs, lakes and rivers coming down from the Pyrenees to meet the vast coastline of the Atlantic Ocean. Aquitaine lazily stretches its sandy beaches over 270 kilometres from the Pointe de Grave to the Adour, and the pines planted in the dunes protect this beautiful coastline. This seashore continues to the foot of the Pyrenees right to the Pays Basque, where it breaks up into many natural harbours.

There are many beaches that cater for all in this immense space. Families can enjoy quietness and protected bathing in resorts such as Hourtin, Vieux Boucau or Carcans. Surf-lovers, experienced or not, can ride the waves in places like Lacanau, Biarritz, Anglet or Arcachon. In the Arcachon Basin, a kind of Inland Sea, there is shelter for small boats and the oyster farms are the largest in France. One can visit, taste and buy oysters on the spot!

Bordeaux is famous the world over for its vineyards and wines, especially Médoc, Pomerol, Saint-Emilion and Sauternes. There is also the Jurançon and the Armagnac in the Pyrenees-Atlantiques. On the gastronomy side, regional specialities include foie gras and jambon de Bayonne. The fish and oysters are exquisite next to the fruits of the Lot-et-Garonne! You can enjoy an oenology course in the Bergerac region or a weekend of duck cuisine near Monflanquin.

The mild climate in Aquitaine allows you to play golf all year round on the 45 quality courses. Because of their geographical location, you can combine golf and other sports whilst discovering the rest of the region. This may be hiking in the beautiful forests, skiing in the Pyrenees, visiting the wine growing areas, or soaking up the regions art, culture, history and heritage. Aquitaine is also a fisherman’s paradise, with waters teeming with bass, turbot, meagre, sole, gilt-head, skate and dogfish. You can even go deep-sea fishing with professionals from St Jean de Luz or Biarritz and catch tuna and shark ! Enjoy a nature escapade around the Bay of Arcachon or a moment of sheer relaxation at a thalassotherapy centre in Biarritz.

Administratively, Aquitaine has five departments. Three of these are on the coast, Gironde with Bordeaux, Landes and the Pyrenees-Atlantiques which is made up of the ancient Bearn and the French part of the Pays Basque. Inland there is Lot-et-Garonne and Dordogne. Here you will find important Norman style architecture and the prehistoric Cave of Lascaux discovered in Dordogne in 1940. The whole region has inspired many to write, such as Montaigne, Montesquieu and Mauriac.

Aquitaine is only 1.5 hours by plane from London and Bordeaux airport connects to many internal and international destinations. By TGV train, Paris is only a 3 hour journey and there is an extensive network of good motorways and dual carriageways.

In Aquitaine the people tell you that Mother Nature is at her best. You will be captivated by the warmth and welcoming nature of the locals. Their innate sense of fun and natural “joie de vivre” will make your time in Aquitaine an unforgettable experience.

Facts and figures

  • Capital: Bordeaux
  • Population: 2,923,000 (4,8% of French population)
  • Density: 71 per sq. km (France = 108,2 per sq. km)
  • Area: 41 834 sq. km (16,152 sq. miles) representing 7,6% of France
  • Economy: Services (70,5%), industry (23,3%), agriculture (6,3%)
  • Specialities: Famous wines (Médoc, Pomerol, Saint-Emilion and Sauternes), Jurançon, the Armagnac, foie gras, jambon de Bayonne, fish and oysters, truffles.

Tourism

  • National Park of the Pyrenées + 2 regional nature Parks (Landes and Périgord-Limousin)
  • 270 km of coastline
  • Over 3000 wine châteaux
  • Over 6,000,000 tourists every year
  • 45 Golf courses – see them at www.golflounge.com
  • Flights fo Bordeaux – see www.airfrance.com
  • 3 hours from Paris by TGV train

Important Links

To find out more about the Aquitaine region visit:

Alsace

February 16, 2016 Regional guides

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Alsace

  • Capital: Strasbourg
  • Population: 1,624,000 (2,9% of French population)
  • Specialities: White wine (Sylvaner, Riesling, Pinot Gris, Pinot Blanc, Gewurztraminer, Muscat, Pinot Noir), Alsace-style Garnished Sauerkraut, Flammekueche (Cheese and onion crisp pie) Flammeküeche), Alsace Apple Pie, Onion Flan, Pikeperch with Riesling, Munster mountain cheese, Kougelhopf…

Background on Alsace

At the crossroads in the centre of Europe, Alsace has been at the heart of events since the beginning of time. It is also the site of some of the European civilisation’s finest achievements. Alsace is one of the most active regions, offering a unique combination between the art of living and an extremely varied historic, traditional, gastronomic, natural and cultural heritage.

Alsace is the smallest French region in terms of Area. Administratively it is made up of two departments: Haut-Rhin close to Switzerland, main towns are Colmar and Mulhouse, and just above Bas-Rhin with Strasbourg, Alsace’s and Europe’s capital. In 1979 The European Parliament held its first session in Strasbourg bringing Alsace into the heart of the new Europe.

There is a vast range of affordable leisure activities, such as golfing, cycling or discovering Alsace’s waterways, the charms of its wines … The region has many lakes, dams and rivers, making it the perfect place for dedicated fishermen. Rainbow trout, grayling, brown trout, carp, tench, pike are there for the taking.

Alsace has preserved and protected its fascinating natural heritage. It has the greatest number of feudal castles in Europe, a sign of its tumultuous history. Traces of more than 400 of them have been discovered mostly in ruins, and one hundred are relatively intact.

There are over 10,000 miles of signposted footpaths through unspoilt land, which hides secret lakes, festivals and fairs, vast forests and rounded hills. From public parks to botanical gardens, historic estates to contemporary landscapes, all are welcome. The rich forests along the Rhine host the second largest bird watch of the country.

“A small glass of Alsace wine is like a summer dress or a spring flower; it’s a ray of sunshine that makes life brighter,” said Christian Dior. Alsace is the only region of France to continue the tradition of making varietal wines only. It has seven delicious grape varieties plus wines made with late harvested grapes that connoisseurs consider a rare pleasure. Alsace is a region of tradition and fine cuisine that has long emphasised the quality of its products. A warm and friendly traditional atmosphere, regional dishes with a creative touch, adding spices or flowers of beer Alsace is home to some of the greatest names in French gastronomy, with 28 starred restaurants.

Strasbourg International Airport enjoys great development and is the Gateway to Europe with 60 intra-european scheduled destinations and over 600 weekly flights. At the crossroads of north-south and east-west routes, Alsace is well connected to the European motorway network and has excellent road connections. The high speed TGV train links to Paris and main French cities.

Whether you’re looking for an adventure in the treetops, in the depths of the earth, or a trip back in time, you’ll find everything in Alsace to satisfy your thirst for adventure and your curiosity. Come and explore a region that has managed to maintain its traditions, its memories of an eventful past, and its architectural heritage.

Facts and figures

  • Capital: Strasbourg
  • Population: 1,624,000 (2,9% of French population)
  • Density: 200 per sq. km (France = 108,2 per sq. km)
  • Area: 8,280 sq. km (3,196 sq. miles) representing 1,5% of France
  • Economy: Services (67,4%), industry (30,5%), agriculture (2,1%)
  • Specialities: White wine (Sylvaner, Riesling, Pinot Gris, Pinot Blanc, Gewurztraminer, Muscat, Pinot Noir), Alsace-style Garnished Sauerkraut, Flammekueche (Cheese and onion crisp pie) Flammeküeche), Alsace Apple Pie, Onion Flan, Pikeperch with Riesling, Munster mountain cheese, Kougelhopf…

Tourism

  • Splendid forests / 10,000 miles of signposted footpaths
  • The Massif des Vosges National park (3,000km2)
  • Weather: warm summers, cold winters. Protected from westerly winds by the Vosges mountains.
  • 200 castles, 47 of them listed Historic monuments
  • 80 museums (Mulhouse is France’s 2nd city for museum attendance)
  • Modern art galleries
  • Rhine Opera (National Opera) and Philarmonic Orchestra
  • More than 4,500 fetes, festivals and events throughout the year
  • 725 hotels, 112 camp sites and 1,527 rural lodgings

Important Links

To find out more about the Alsace region visit:

Provence Alpes Cote d’Azur

February 16, 2016 Regional guides

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  • Capital: Nice
  • Population: 4,534,000 (7,7% of French population)
  • Specialities: Ratatouille, bouillabaisse, farcis nicois, anchoïde, soupe au pistou, Pastis, Nougat, olive oil, Châteauneuf-du-Pape, Tavel, Côtes de Provence, Bandol…

Background on Provence Alpes Cote d’Azur

The Provence Alpes Cote d’Azur lies between the mountains and the sea, stretching from the Mercantour National Park to the Rhone river delta and from the Barre des Ecrins to the Marseille calanques. Made up of six departments, the region has a spectacular coastline, beautiful sunshine, azure-blue sea, rich historical heritage and many “chic” and trendy towns.

The coastline stretches from the Côte d’Azur in the Var to the Camargue with 40km of fine sandy and pebbled beaches. Famous ports include Saint Tropez, Marseille, and Toulon, with smaller coastal villages such as Bandol, Cassis, La Ciotat dotted in-between. The superb islands and 33 sailing ports allow thousands of boats to moor all year long. The Côte d’Azur is also a major port-of-call for many Mediterranean cruises and all water-sports can be enjoyed here. The French Riviera has 19 beautiful golf courses designed by famous international designers that are open all year round. Those who enjoy fishing will find 1,200 km of classified top class rivers and streams, you may however prefer the many ponds and lakes scattered around the region.

The Alpine area includes wide-open protected spaces such as the Ecrins National Park and the Queyras Regional Park. It is full of small hamlets and villages where traditions thrive, as do rich and varied species of flora and fauna. Ski resorts of the Azzure Alps are just an hour away from the beaches, with the Southern Alps climbing up to 4,000 meters altitude above Marseille. The Azzure balcony has more than 465 peaks over 2,000 meters. The foothills of the Alps have an original combination of Mediterranean scents and Alpine flora, with a mixture of pastures, scrubland and pine forests.

The true heart of Provence lies in the rolling hills that link the sea to the Alps. The unique Verdon river canyons are one of the natural jewels of Provence. In the back country you will discover the fields and colourful landscapes which fascinated and inspired Van Gogh, Petrarch, Picasso, F. Scott Fitzgerald, Renoir, Matisse, and Cocteau. Enjoy the pleasure of meeting artists and craftsmen in Biot, Vallauris and Grasse, who have revived old techniques and have given life to past arts such as the creation of precious ceramics, stained glass, carved wood figures, glass blowing and perfume making.

The Phocean City of Marseille was founded by the Ancient Greeks around 600BC. Then came the Romans, creating “La Provincia Romana”, leaving arenas, amphitheatres, archaeological sites, triumphal arches, aqueducts and bridges. The Roman cities of Arles, Orange, Nimes and Frejus still bear witness to their long and rich past, featuring vestiges that are now protected by UNESCO.

Discover the sumptuous traditional dishes and put a little sunshine on your plate: ratatouille, farcis nicois, pissaladière, anchoïde, soupe au pistou, beignets de fleurs de courge, artichauts barigoule, omelette de poutine, stockfisch, aïoli daube à la nicoise, barba-juan, “brissaudo”, bouillabaisse.

Provence is of course renowned for its rosés and table wines. The vineyards start from the southern part of the Rhone Valley and include the famous Châteauneuf-du-Pape, and Provence, where French vineyards started over 25 centuries ago. Côtes du Rhône, Côtes du Rhône Village, Châteauneuf-du-Pape, Côtes du Luberon, Côtes du Ventoux, Gigondas, Tavel, Côtes de Provence, Bandol, Coteaux d’Aix-en-Provence are just a few of the most popular red and rosé wines from the region.

This highly varied region is less than 3 hours from Paris by TGV train and 6,5 hours from London Waterloo. It has very good connections to other French regions and motorway network to nearby Italy and Switzerland. Most major and budget airlines have frequent flights from many UK and European cities to Nice and Marseille, especially in the peak season.

Warm friendships and festivities, lively cultural life, a wide choice of accommodation to suit all budgets, in Provence Alpes Côte d’Azur, there is place in the sun for everyone.

Facts and figures

  • Capital: Nice
  • Population: 4,534,000 (7,7% of French population)
  • Density: 145,1 per sq. km (France = 108,2 per sq. km)
  • Area: 31,804sq. km (12,279 sq. miles) representing 5,8% of France
  • Economy: Services (77,6%), industry (20,2%), agriculture (2,3%)
  • Specialities: Ratatouille, bouillabaisse, farcis nicois, anchoïde, soupe au pistou, Pastis, Nougat, olive oil, Châteauneuf-du-Pape, Tavel, Côtes de Provence, Bandol…

Tourism

  • 2,500 hours of sun on average per year, 3,000 hours along the coast.
  • 120 km of coastline and 33 sailing ports
  • 1,200 km of rivers and streams
  • 15 ski-stations, 563 km of ski slopes, 148 ski-lifts, 200 snow canons, 250 ski-instructors
  • Azzure balcony has more than 465 peaks over 2,000 meters
  • New downhill snow sports, trekking and snow shoeing
  • Natural Parks : Mercantour natural parks, Ecrins National Park, Queyras Regional Park, Mont Ventoux, Luberon Regional Park, Camargue Regional Park, Verdon Natural Regional Park, Geological Reserve Of Haute Provence And Porquerolles And Port Cros National Park.
  • Over 100 museums and monuments
  • Huge range of festivals and events, the most famous being the Cannes Film Festival
  • 19 Golf courses – see them at www.golflounge.com
  • No. 1 region for French tourists, with 12.5 % of the market and 2nd region for foreign tourists, after Paris – Ile de France.

Important Links

To find out more about the Provence Alpes region visit:

Languedoc-Roussillon

February 12, 2016 Regional guides

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Languedoc-Roussillon

  • Capital: Montpellier
  • Population: 2,314,000 (7,7% of French population)
  • Specialities: Cassoulet, ‘Brandade de Nîmes’, the ‘petits pâtés’ of Pézénas, , mushrooms (Cèpes and giroles), ‘Bourride de Sète’, stuffed squids, anchovies, cherries, apricots and peaches. Sweet wine from Banyuls. Sparkling wine.

Background on Languedoc-Roussillon

Languedoc-Rousillon is a natural amphitheatre facing the Mediterranean, made up of three natural terraces formed by the mountains, the Causses and the plains, that slope down towards the sea. The contrasts of countryside and variety of rural traditions in Languedoc-Rousillon form a distinct geographical and cultural unity, known well beyond the “borders” of its five departments.

Margeride, Aubrac, the Lot valley, the Gorges du Tarn and the north of the Cévennes together form the northernmost département in Languedoc-Rousillon: Lozère.

The Camargue, the Roman country and the south Cévennes form the département that borders the river Rhône: the Gard.

The Languedoc coast, Haut-Languedoc and Minervois cover the départements of Hérault and the Aude, and include Corbières, the Cathare country and the Montagne Noire.

Lastly, next to the Spanish border, Roussillon, the Vermilion coast and the Catalonian Pyrénées make up the Western Pyrénées (Pyrénées-Orientales).

Languedoc-Rousillon is a land where traditions are part of everyday life. Ancient crafts still thrive in the beautiful region known as the Camargue. In Sète and Palavas you can watch teams of fishermen jousting with each other from their boats in water tournaments. In the ancient fishing ports, from Grau-du-Roi to the Côte Vermeille, the pace of life has barely changed for centuries. Regattas, cruises, fishing contests and wind surfing events draw the crowds to lively modern resorts such as Port-Camargue, Europe’s premier sailing resort; la Grande-Motte, with its bold architecture; Cap d’Agde, Gruissan, Port-Leucate, Port-Barcarès and Saint-Cyprien. To the south, the pine-clad slopes of the Massif de la Clape rise above the resorts of Gruissan and Leucate. The beaches here are very popular with windsurfers.

The sandy coastline of Languedoc-Roussillon stretches as far as Argelès-sur-Mer, then the wild, rocky headlands of the Côte Vermeille rise out of the sea. Great painters like Matisse and Picasso once found inspiration in the beauty and light of ports such as Collioure, Banyuls, Port-Vendres and Cerbère.

Golfers looking for sunshine, Mediterranean scenery and friendly, welcoming courses, will be delighted with Languedoc-Roussillon for their golf holidays abroad. There are a huge variety of golf courses to suit players at all levels. With top quality courses, year-round sunshine and a 12-month golfing season, Languedoc-Roussillon is fast becoming one of the most popular golfing destinations in Europe.

Boasting nearly three hundred days of sunshine a year, Languedoc-Roussillon abounds with attractions. There is a rich cultural and historical heritage, impressive natural sites, seaside relaxation and sporting activities. With the hinterland still intact and a protected coastline, Languedoc-Rousillon surprises us by the wealth of its culture and its history, with so many sites and monuments, abbeys and castles, and five structures listed on the UNESCO world heritage list. The roman aqueduct of Pont du Gard, the Canal du Midi, the medieval city of Carcassonne (the biggest in Europe), the abbeys of St Guilhem le Désert and St Gilles du Gard, on the footsteps of St Jacques de Compostelle. Roman, Arab and Celt influences have helped Languedoc-Rousillon become a melting pot for Mediterranean cultures and civilisations. The region has its own characteristic “art de vivre”, its people remaining strongly attached to traditions and customs that they keep faithfully alive.

Languedoc-Roussillon is renowned for the diversity of its agricultural produce and boasts a delicious and authentic cuisine. Based on olive oil, garlic and basil, this cuisine is typically flavoured with herbs of the Provencal garrigue such as thyme, bay or rosemary. Cheeses, wines, honey and fruit complement the rural and coastal specialities. The excellent local chefs are keen to give you a taste of the real Languedoc-Roussillon. Cassoulet, ‘Brandade de Nîmes’, the ‘petits pâtés’ of Pézénas, Aligot, mushrooms such as Cèpes and giroles mushrooms, and of course fish based dishes such as anchoïade, ‘Bourride de Sète’, stuffed squids and don’t forget the local seafood platters where the pleasures of sight and taste are combined: snails, sea urchins, mussels, clams, and the chance to sample the Thau basin oysters.

The vineyards of Languedoc-Roussillon are some of the oldest and largest in the world, and produce some of the most renowned French wines. Enthusiastic growers cultivate the vines across the region. The wine making districts extend from the right bank of the Rhône as far as the foothills of the Pyrénées. The wines of Languedoc-Roussillon are rich with a taste that lasts. They complement the local food perfectly, providing a contrast to the simple cuisine based on olive oil, vegetables, fish and bread.

For a long time, it was its coastline that attracted visitors, yet half its territory is mountainous. Languedoc-Roussillon offers a protected environment and widely contrasting open spaces. Here the visitor is spoiled for choice when choosing their holiday; twenty five seaside resorts and sailing ports, twenty golf courses, nine ski resorts, more than two thousands hotels, residences, bed and breakfasts, casinos, music and dance festivals, village feasts and carnivals, local handy-crafts…and one the widest vineyard in the world.

Languedoc-Roussillon is less than a 2 hour flight from London and the Montpellier airport connects to many internal and international destinations. Other airports in the region include the international airport of Nîmes-Arles-Camargue and Carcassonne Airport. Paris is just over a 5 hour journey by TGV train and other main stations of Languedoc-Roussillon are served by the TGV and Corail trains. By road, there are three motorways: the A75 linking Paris with Lodève via Clermont-Ferrand, the Toulouse to Narbonne link (A61), and the “Languedocienne” (A9) linking Spain with the Rhône valley and serves all the coastal towns. As always, the road network of motorways and dual carriageways is very good.

Facts and figures

  • Capital: Montpellier
  • Population: 2,314,000 (7,7% of French population)
  • Density: 85,2 per sq. km (France = 108,2 per sq. km)
  • Area: 27,761sq. km (10,718 sq. miles) representing 5,1% of France
  • Economy: Services (76,2%), industry (18,9%), agriculture (4,9%)
  • Specialities: Cassoulet, ‘Brandade de Nîmes’, the ‘petits pâtés’ of Pézénas, , mushrooms (Cèpes and giroles), ‘Bourride de Sète’, stuffed squids, anchovies, cherries, apricots and peaches. Sweet wine from Banyuls. Sparkling wine.

Tourism

  • 150 miles of coastline
  • 25 seaside resorts and ports
  • 9 skiing resorts
  • Over 1100 hotels and 200 gites
  • Plenty of fetes, ferias, festivals and events throughout the year.
  • 900 listed sites graded from 1 to 4 stars offering chalets, bungalows or mobile homes for rent, and pitches for tents and caravans.
  • 20 Golf courses see them at www.golflounge.com
  • Sporting activities: sailing, water sports, swimming, diving, tennis, golf, bass fishing, cycling…

Important Links

To find out more about the Languedoc-Roussillon region visit:

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