An indulgent stay in Languedoc-Roussillon
A visit to Languedoc-Roussillon will reveal the many charms of one of the most touristic regions of France. The protected coastline and rolling mountainous landscapes are just some of the reasons to visit Languedoc-Roussillon, a land that you're sure to love.
Brigitte and Richard Solignac have been at the helm of the INTER-HOTEL le Neptune – a 3-star establishment situated on the Languedoc coastline in the seaside town of Carnon near Montpellier – since 1979. The hotelier couple, native to the region, have remained faithful to Languedoc for its location "near to Italy and Spain, in close proximity to the sea and countryside," but most importantly for "its sunny climate" creating the lifestyle that this Mediterranean region is known for. The perfect place for a lazy weekend!
"In Languedoc-Roussillon, you will find traditions that remain anchored in the folkways to this day thanks to protected arts and crafts and the many fishing ports such as Sète, which bear witness to an era when sea activity was dominant," reveal Brigitte and Richard Solignac.
A stay on the Languedoc coastline
Enjoy a stay in Languedoc to explore its coastal lagoons where long stretches of sand are bordered by a number of lakes. Magical and bewitching In spite of its position as the leading department for tourism in the region, Hérault has managed to preserve its coastline, two thirds of which remain wild. Situated between Frontignan and Vic-La-Gardiole, the Aresquiers beach has been classed as a natural reserve for its abundant ecosystem. The strength of the wind there has made it a well-known spot for watersports, particularly kitesurfing and windsurfing.
Then visit Cap d’Agde, the famous coastline resort. Diving enthusiasts will be enchanted with the "Grandes Tables", the largest underwater cliffs in the region. The place is magnificent and home to a wide variety of flora and fauna. The resort is also known for being home to the largest naturist village in Europe.
Leave the coast for while and head to Béziers near Villeneuve-les-Béziers to explore the nine locks of Fonserannes on the Canal du Midi. An enjoyable walk for young and old. Then head in the direction of Perpignan, just a few miles from Saleilles. Labelled a 'city of art and history,' Perpignan abounds with heritage and history, with sights such as the Palace of the Kings of Majorca, the Cathedral, the Campo Santo, and more.
You will then reach Canet-en-Roussillon, a seaside resort where the surrounding mountains remind you of your proximity to the Pyrenees. Finally, set off for Le Boulou, the final stage of your trip to the Languedoc coast and the last city before Spain.
A strong Mediterranean heritage
During your stay in Languedoc-Roussillon, you will be struck by the variety of the landscapes; however garrigue remains the most common and iconic type of vegetation in this Mediterranean region. You can explore with a visit to rural Montpellier, stopping off at the sharp gorges of Hérault where you can enjoy pleasant walks to places such as Saint-Guilhem-le-Désert, one of the 'most beautiful villages in France', and the legendary Pont du Diable bridge known for being the oldest Roman bridge in France.
Liven up your stay by participating in one of the many (village) votive festivals taking place in the summer months. Mauguio, Saint-Jean-de-Védas, Sommières, Fourques and Aigues-Mortes will all give you chance to experience the festive atmosphere of the bullfighting events which are reminiscent of the neighbouring La Camargue region and Spain, whose centuries-old influences have almost changed the destiny of the region on several occasions over the years. Here, every village must have a festival: for several days, you can share and enjoy the abrivado, bandido, "taureaux piscines" (bull pools) and other encierro with laughter and good spirits throughout.
But the most iconic of these festivals is undoubtedly the Feria de Nîmes, which has acquired an international reputation over the years and whose bullfights cause much excitement in the city. Don't miss the many Roman relics during your stay: its amphitheatres with festivals, concerts and other light and sound shows organised by the local government throughout the year, and its magnificent Fountain garden dating back to the 18th century – the real heart and soul of the city. Le Pont du Gard, around 30 miles from Nîmes, testifies to this: it is all that remains of a network of Roman aqueducts that stretched all the way to Nîmes.
In Montpellier, you will be surprised by the dynamic feel of the city, where modern buildings sit alongside the historic Ecusson neighbourhoods. "It's a student city with a party atmosphere where concerts and festivals take place throughout the year." As Brigitte and Richard Solignac say, "life is good here, it's a city with a modern outlook." With a nod to the tourists visiting the city, Montpellier has put leisure infrastructures in place, one example being the creation of the Odysseum shopping and leisure zone containing bowling, go-karting and ice-skating facilities along with a huge aquarium.
The gateway to Cathar country
Continue your journey through rural Languedoc for a glimpse of original Cévennes landscapes, which remain strongly anchored in local traditions to this day. This is the country of fern, pine and, most importantly, chestnut, which is savoured in autumn around a cottage fire.
In the Aude department, don't miss the medieval town of Carcassonne whose fortifications rise up and greet visitors with the splendour of times gone by. The gateway to Cathar country, you will find a range of museums presenting the history of knights and the Middle Ages. Quillan is also worth a visit, its castle being one of the rare examples of 14th- and 15th-century military architecture.
Architecture, gastronomy and traditions are at the heart of a cultural mix underlining the many influences evident in this land by the sea.
Situated between Spain and the Mediterranean, the heart of Languedoc-Roussillon oscillates between the two. If you are to believe Richard Solignac, "a stay is worth a thousand words!" So, what are you waiting for?