Languedoc-Roussillon, or simply Languedoc, is a region in France that shares the southern coast with the Côte d’Azur, also known as the French Riviera. Languedoc is not nearly as ritzy, but it makes up for this with a stunning, rugged coastline, some serious history, beautiful beaches and many, many less tourists than its sister region to the east.
I want to introduce you to this, your new favorite region, so keep your calendars open and check back on this page for more updates on its lovely villages and vibrant cities!
Notable cities in Languedoc
The capital of Languedoc is Montpellier, a charming town that houses Europe’s oldest medical school, France’s oldest botanical gardens, and the country’s largest LGBT population outside of Paris. Montpellier also serves as an in-city TGV hub for longer trips to and from Paris, Barcelona, Nice and Italy. (“In-city” is opposed to special TGV stations outside out town, such as is the case with Avignon.) It has great restaurants and there are often big-name acts that play the Corum or the Zenith.
Ever wonder where the word “denim” comes from? Look no further than the cloth de Nîmes! This medium-sized town is rich in Roman history, complete with its own Coliseum-type arena, where again big acts play (see Metallica’s “French for One Night” DVD in this stunning setting) and non-harmful bull fights are performed during the weeklong Féria de Nîmes every summer.
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Carcassonne remains a big draw for tourists from around the world due to its fortified city, which is a UNESCO World Heritage Site. Its history dates back more than 2,000 years, although the city you see today is “only” about 1,500 years old. It should definitely be on your list of things to see while on vacation in France.
It’s often called the “Little Venice” of France because of its network of canals, which lends the city a romantic ambience. The restaurants along the main canal are renowned for their fresh local seafood dishes. There is also the fascinating and quirky MUSÉE INTERNATIONAL DES ARTS MODESTES A SETE, a collection of all the things that nobody wants any more, all the things you throw away and that lie forgotten at the back of drawers. But French! And even more awesome is the water jousting tournament every summer, with its history dating back hundreds of years.
Getting to and from Languedoc
The airports in Montpellier and Nîmes are you best bet for travel to and from other cities in Europe, particularly with lo-cost airlines like Ryanair and easyJet. If you want to come direct from overseas, Air France can get you connecting flights to Montpellier’s airport, which is a quick shuttle ride from the city center.
By train, as I said the TGV will bring you to Languedoc at Nîmes and Montpellier. There is a fantastic inter-province bus system that costs next to nothing in many of the provinces, and of course local trains as well.