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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