the area known as "Languedoc" covered a large part of southern France; Roussillon
is a much smaller area, being more or less the area covered by the
Eastern Pyrenees department. Roussillon, in the past, was the northern
part of Catalonia., and people here still speak Catalan as well as
The regional capital of Languedoc-Roussillon is the city of Montpellier
thriving modern city in the Hérault, with a historic centre;
major cities in the region are Nimes,
Unlike Provence, Languedoc has a
coastal plain, and except in the department of Eastern Pyrenees, much
of the coastal area is flat. In the past, the land was swampy and
plagued with mosquitoes, which is why tourism did not develop here in
the 19th century, as it did on the coast further east. However, the
swamps were drained long ago, and the mosquitoes brought under control,
leading to the tourist development of this long coastline as from the
Today, the coast of Languedoc is characterised by
long sandy beaches, often with plenty of space, and a modern tourist
infrastructure, with twentieth-century resorts such as Cap d'Agde,
Palavas, or Narbonne Plage. The brash developments of the sixties have
had time to mature, parts of the coastline have been recovered for more
environmentally sensitive tourism development; and among the
quite densely built-up resort areas, there are attractive bits of
coastline and hinterland. However, as a general rule, the areas within
20 km of the coast have been extensively developed for tourism in the
last forty years.
The fertile coastal plain is given over to
agriculture, vineyards and - particularly in Roussillon - fruit and
vegetables. Languedoc is one of France's major wine-growing areas.
Those who do not want to spend their
char-grilled on a beach will perhaps prefer to discover the old
Languedoc, away from the cities and the immediate coastal strip. Inland
Languedoc is a beautiful area, characterised by vineyards and
"garrigue", arid rocky Mediteranean hills with their
vegetation of scrub, aromatic bushes and occasional fields. Further
inland, the valleys of the Cevennes
more wooded and rural, give way to the Cevennes hills, the southeastern
peaks of the Massif Central.
The area has a lot of historic cities,
such as Nimes
with its superb Roman remains, the famous walled city of
Carcassonne, the former Roman provincial capital of Narbonne, and other
smaller ancient cities, such as Agde
forming a natural land barrier between France and Spain, are a
beautiful range of high mountains, wooded on their lower
but offering good mountain and hill walking higher up - not to mention
the attraction of day trips into Spain. The coastline where
meet the sea is unlike the rest of the Languedoc coast, and is
characterised by old coastal villages such as Banyuls and Collioure,
rocky cliffs and small coves. The villages on the Pyrenean coastline
can be reached directly by train.
to Languedoc :
from Paris Gare de Lyon
, or from Lille; train from many
cities, motorway from Paris, Lille, Strasbourg, Nancy, Lyon, Geneva.
There are airports
at Nimes, Montpellier, Carcassonne and Perpignan, with low-cost flights
from the UK, Belgium and Holland..
The Origin of the name
The "Langue d'oc" was the version of French spoken in the south of the
country, and Languedoc referred to the part of France in which the
"language of Oc" was spoken. "Oc" was the word for "yes" in this part
of France, at a time when people in the north of France said "oeuil",
an old French word that has become modern French "oui". Today, the
"langue d'oc" survives in the many patois still spoken by a few people
in rural areas of this part of France.
map of Languedoc:
and drag the map to cover the Languedoc area. then zoom in or out.