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Discover Languedoc-Rousillon: The Other "South of France"

Updated on December 11, 2017
mbwalz profile image

I've spent a lot of time in France with friends and family. I'm almost always planning my next trip!


From The Pyrenees To Provence, And The Sparkling Mediterranean In Between

I've been lucky enough to travel quite a lot in France over my lifetime. I can't think of any other region I've visited that made me want to stay forever. Nice people, amazing history, interesting culture and so much to do! This all adds up to an amazing vacation - and perhaps more!

The region of Languedoc-Roussillon is in the South of France. It's on the side near the Pyrenees and Spain. The region stretches from the edge of the better known Provence to the Black Mountains in the north and the Pyrenees in the south and plains leading to the Atlantic on the east.

Lots of British citizens vacation, buy seasonal property, or retire here. But when we told people that we were Americans, they looked surprised and asked how we'd even found them! Many told me they hadn't seen an American in years. Too bad because it's less expensive than the more popular Provence and Riviera and equally beautiful.

Countryside To Remember

Carcassonne | Source
Chateau d'Arques
Chateau d'Arques | Source
Abby of Lagrasse - Lagrasse is considered to be one of the most beautiful villages in France.
Abby of Lagrasse - Lagrasse is considered to be one of the most beautiful villages in France. | Source
Le Pont du Gard
Le Pont du Gard | Source
My Daughter Standing on a Piece of the Via Domitia
My Daughter Standing on a Piece of the Via Domitia | Source

Rich History

This area, being right along the Mediterranean, was an important part of the Roman Empire. In the city of Nîmes, there remains a well preserved Roman coliseum which is considered only second in its stunning nature to Rome's coliseum.

The oldest Roman road in Gaul passes through this region. It's called the Via Domitia. Originally 70,000 miles long, it connected Rome with Spain.

The Pont du Gard, built in 20 BC was the highest aqueduct ever built by the Roman Empire. It is now a UNESCO World Heritage site and visited by over a million tourists every year and well worth the visit!

The port city of Agde was settled by the Greeks in 525 BC. It is the oldest village in France!

The Cave de Niaux is one of the premier sites in Europe for prehistoric art. With prior reservations, you can actually see the original art. Most sites preserve their art by letting you see only reproductions

The Canal du Midi is the oldest canal in Europe and was commissioned by Louis XIV in 1666. It spans from the Mediterranean to Toulouse, joining two other smaller canals which create a waterway from the sea to the Atlantic Ocean.

Cathar Castles abound in the South-East, including the UNESCO World Heritage Site of Carcassonne. Cathars, a conservative Catholic sect in the region beginning in the 11th Century, met with a gruesome end when the Pope began a brutal crusade against them in 1215. The wealthy region fell into ruins and the local language Occitan (the language of literature and the troubadours at the time) fell to a little known local dialect..

These are but a few of the amazing historical sites, villages, and cities of the region.


Evidence from the prehistoric ages is every where, especially near the Pyrenees.

When you visit the region, you can see the remains of dinosaurs and evidence of the arrival of humans 3,000,000 years ago. There are caves with drawings, rivaling those from the famous Lescaux Caves and Neolithic architecture as well as megaliths.

The vineyards near our villa in Portiragnes, France
The vineyards near our villa in Portiragnes, France | Source

The Biggest Wine Growing Region In France

Surprisingly, Languedoc is the largest wine growing region in France, producing more than a third of France's wine grapes.

As you drive through the region, fields are criss-crossed by grape vines and every sizable town you come to has a communal winery. You can bring your own containers and ask to fill them up for amazingly reasonable prices. There's also wine tasting and amazing lunches at many wineries. That is on the list for our next trip!

Grotte de Limousis Salle du Lac
Grotte de Limousis Salle du Lac | Source

So Many Outdoor Activities To Enjoy

While I'm not much of an athlete, many people come to the Languedoc-Rousillion region for outdoor pursuits.

Exploration of the extensive cave systems draw many cavers and have led to the discovery of prehistoric sites.

If you are a skier, some of the most amazing skiing in the world can be found in the Pyrenees such as Font Romeu which opened in 1921. Nearby sulfur baths help you relax at the end of the day. The Cevennes mountains closer to Provence offer lots of cross country and easier down-hill skiing experiences.

Then there's golf, white water rafting, scuba diving, bicycling, fishing, swimming, rock climbing, hang gliding, dog sledding, horseback riding, or how about hawking? And one cannot forget the Naturist (nudist) beaches!

These activities are just the short list!

The Beach in Portiragnes Plage - 5 Mins. Away (see Spain in the distance?)
The Beach in Portiragnes Plage - 5 Mins. Away (see Spain in the distance?) | Source
Next to Our Villa
Next to Our Villa | Source
Next to Our Villa
Next to Our Villa | Source
Our Village of Portiragnes
Our Village of Portiragnes | Source
Our Villa
Our Villa | Source

Friendly People, Lots To Do, Budget Friendly!

Two weeks was barely enough time for us to scratch the surface of this amazing region. Since we traveled with our two kids, we took a lot of down time to relax and enjoy "living" in our small town near the beach.

Everywhere we went, the people were friendly and curious about how we'd ended up in their beautiful region. One store keeper was patient and explained how to properly pronounce the town we were staying in. Literally, it took him at least ten minutes to get us so we could say Portiragnes properly. I admired his patience!

We benefited from staying in one place for the whole two weeks, getting to know our neighbors, shopping at the local markets, including the huge Carrefour - sort of the equivalent of a Super Walmart - with clothes, home goods, and food. We gassed up the car at the same place, ate at local restaurants and generally drove around and discovered the region!

The food was amazing, the local crafts well worth their prices, and the wine was excellent.

This region seemed more down-to-earth and approachable than it's neighbor, Provence. While I like Provence very much, Languedoc-Roussillon is where my heart wants to be. A nice British lady we spoke to said she'd owned her villa next to ours for over ten years and still hadn't seen half of what she wanted to see in this region.

It's a unique area full of history, sophisticated cities, and natural wonders. It was a quick 4.5 hour trip from Paris on the super fast TGV train and the regional roads were very good.

I hope you'll think about this region next time you plan a trip to France!

© 2013 MaryBeth Walz


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    • mbwalz profile image

      MaryBeth Walz 3 years ago from Maine

      Thank you ChitrangadaSharan! It really was such a wonderful family vacation. I'm glad we had the chance to do it.

    • ChitrangadaSharan profile image

      Chitrangada Sharan 3 years ago from New Delhi, India

      This sounds like a wonderful place to visit!

      I have heard about this through some of my friends who visited there. The pictures are amazing and inviting.

      Would love to visit sometime. Thanks for sharing the information and voted up!

    • mbwalz profile image

      MaryBeth Walz 4 years ago from Maine

      GetitScene - what a great description of the light! It's no wonder the Romans loved it so much!

    • GetitScene profile image

      Dale Anderson 4 years ago from The High Seas

      I lived in Europe for several years and I encourage everyone to visit if you can. The sunlight in France (to me at least) is different to anywhere else I have ever been. Golden, liquid, beautiful.

    • mbwalz profile image

      MaryBeth Walz 5 years ago from Maine

      Thank you. It was such a variety of everything. I don't think you could ever get bored there! Thanks for commenting!

    • DDE profile image

      Devika Primić 5 years ago from Dubrovnik, Croatia

      Wow! Sounds a wonderful trip to the South of France the photos are so beautiful and the vineyards caught my eye.