: the area as a whole, or the area excluding the department of
French part of historic Catalonia, essentially corresponding to the
department of Pyrénées Orientales (66), in the
south of the region.
: mountainous area running from north of
Montpellier to the northeast
of Languedoc, mostly in the Gard (30) and Lozère (48)
Mont Lozère - 1702 metres.
area of the Aude (11) department, famous for its vineyards.
: northern part
of Haut Languedoc, mostly in the Lozère (48)
- Aubrac :
sparsely populated high plateau area on the borders of
Languedoc, Auvergne and Midi-Pyrenees.(departments 48, 12 and 15)
is best known in France for two main reasons;
firstly as a
holiday destination, secondly as France's biggest producer of wine. In
terms of image, it is a region associated with sunshine and the
seaside, but also with its Mediterranean vegetation of vines, olive
trees and slender cypress trees, as in the photo on the right.
The area known as Languedoc
today covers just a small part of the much
larger area of France that was known in the Middle Ages as the pays de
"Langues d'oc" was a name given to
whole family of French dialects spoken in the southern half of France.
In mediaeval times, France was divided linguistically into two
main areas, the northern half where people spoke languages that have
evolved to produce modern French; and the southern half of the country
where they spoke languages somewhere between northern French and
Spanish, known as Occitanian French, or langues d'oc.
People from the north had
difficulty understanding people from the south, and vice versa. The
dividing line between the two areas ran from the Charentes in the west
to Geneva in the east.
Today the Languedoc is part of the large
region of "Occitanie", another name that was once used to refer to the
whole of the south of France. The name
2016 defined a region stretching from the Rhone to the
Pyrenees - a region that still maintains an identity, but is no longer
an official administrative division of France .
The large majority of the population of Languedoc-Roussillon is
the urban areas on the coastal plain, notably around Montpellier, Nimes
and Perpignan. These are old cities that have grown up over the ages as
major points on the land route round the northern Mediterranean coast,
the route between France and Spain and Italy and Spain.
Montpellier, the regional capital, is the 8th largest city in France,
and has been a major European city for over 1000 years. Its university
is arguably the oldest in France - its famous schools of law and
medicine dating from the twelfth century. But Montpellier is also a
modern city that has tried to develop itself, with a certain degree of
success, as a major IT and computing centre. ► More
information: Languedoc towns
The coastal plain of
Languedoc is the leading wine-growing area in France. However, volume
has fallen over the past decades following a drop in the consumption of
ordinary and table wines, which made up the bulk of its production.
Faced with this change in the market the Languedoc Roussillon wine
industry had to reinvent itself, and did so by targeting new
specialties, local wines and increasingly IGP and quality wines. Thanks
abundant sunshine, the warmth of the Languedoc climate, and
the southern grape varieties, the wines of Languedoc are full-bodied
with a rich flavor and an above-average alcohol level compared to other
French wines. These qualities also explain the specialization of
certain Languedoc vineyards in fortified wines, aperitif wines such as
Frontignan, Rivesaltes or Banyuls, or quite distinctive local wines
such as Maury or Fitou.
Wthin the Aude department, the
area of Limoux is famous for its sparkling wines. Blanquette de Limoux
is said to be the oldest sparkling wine in France, and it was from
here, in the 16th century, that the monks of Champagne learned the
secret to transforming a mediocre white wine into a high-end product,
by adding bubbles. ► More information: Wines
The coast of Languedoc was, until the twentieth
century, relatively sparsely populated, as it was bordered by large
expanses of wetlands which bred mosquitos, making the environment
relatively inhospitable. Apart from the extreme south of the region,
where the Pyrenees come down to the coast, the only coastal town of any
importance was Sète, a fishing and trading port beside the
hill along the central Languedoc coast (photo right). But now the
have been drained, and in the 1960s there was massive
new coastal holiday resorts such as la Grande Motte, Le Grau du Roi,
Cap d'Agde or
Today, thanks to its long sandy
beaches, hotels and campsites, the Languedoc coast,
known as the Amethyst coast, is a
popular holiday destination.
Inland from the coastal plain,
of the Languedoc is characterised by dry
hills. The exception is the department of the Aude, that stretches
inland in the direction of Toulouse, and is famous for its vineyards
and its agriculture. To the south, the Pyrenees and their foothills
rise steeply towards snowy peaks; and along the northern edge of the
coastal plain from Narbonne to Nimes, lie the southern uplands of the
Massif Central - a very sparsely populated and arid area. The inland
department of Lozère, which covers most of "Haut Languedoc",
lies at an
average altitude of 886 metres, making it one of the highest
departments in France. The dry uplands of Haut Languedoc are cut
through by impressive deep river valleys, such as the famous Tarn Gorge.
the exception of the department of Lozère, Languedoc enjoys
a mild to
warm Mediterranean climate, making the area attractive to holidaymakers
for a good part of the year. Perpignan enjoys a warmer average
year-round climate than any other city in France, notably due to its
very mild winters. The whole of the coastal area enjoys a dry climate
for most of the year, punctuated by occasional monsoon-like heavy
rainfalls, known as Cevenol storms (Cevennes storms), which can dump
large quantities of water in a very short space of time on the southern
slopes of the Cévennes, causing major flooding of rivers
such as the
Gard or the Herault. This happens most often in late summer and early
autumn when warm wet air comes in of the Mediterranean.
to Main towns, cities and other places
attractions in Languedoc