Visiting the Languedoc Roussillon Region of France

A view of the ancient walled city of Carcassonne
Getty Images / Julian Finney

The Languedoc-Roussillon Region of France is an undiscovered gem filled with a breathtaking coastline, some of France's best cuisine, a rich Medieval history, and amazing architecture. It also has some spectacular historic Roman architecture. Bordering Provence, Languedoc-Roussillon is just as charming and beautiful, but is less tourist-ridden and less expensive. In addition, France's most up and coming wines are from this region.

Originally the name referred to langue d'oc—the language of oc—and the region ran from Bordeaux, on the west coast, and from Lyon in central France, into Spain, and across to northwest Italy. In January 2016, it was incorporated into a new region: Occitanie, along with Midi-Pyrénées.

Major Cities

Languedoc Roussillon may be one of the least densely populated regions of France, but it has several large and mid-sized cities that are unique, fascinating and beautiful, including:

  • Carcassonne: Featuring an entire miniature city that is a castle, this is one of France's great sites. Try to avoid visiting in the high season, but if you do, go early in the morning.
  • Limoux: 25 kms (15 miles) south of Carcassonne, this is a small and pretty city best known as the true birthplace of the first sparkling wine, Blanquette.
  • Montpellier: A large city with southern French charm and a university dating back to the Middle Ages.
  • Nimes: A city known for its wonderful Roman remains and the Arena where you can see gladiators fighting and chariots racing in two spectacular shows.
  • Perpignan: Another large city with Catalan uniqueness situated a few minutes from Spain. Be sure to travel just south to the picturesque Côte Vermeille.

Getting There

You can easily access Languedoc by flying into Montpellier, Barcelona, Perpignan, Nice, or Paris and taking a train or rental car to the Languedoc region. With a Europe or France rail pass, you can take the train to the stations of Sete, Montpellier, Carcassonne, or Perpignan, among other locations in the Languedoc region.

If you really want to explore the lovely smaller villages, the Pyrénées scenery, and the countryside of Languedoc, consider renting a car.

Top Attractions and Things to Do

There is no shortage of attractions in the Languedoc, and it has activities to interest a wide range of holidaymakers, from lovers of wine, architecture, and history, to people interested in the pristine beaches, nudist resorts, or the ancient Roman ruins. Some must-see locations in the region include:

  • Cathar Country: Encompassing several Cathar ruins, chateaux, cities, and villages, Cathar is rich in history. Be sure to visit Montségur where the Cathars made their last stand against the Crusaders in 1244.
  • Cap d'Agde: Considered the world's Mecca of nudism and featuring a small gated nudist village.
  • La Cité in Carcassonne: A fortified Medieval village within the walls of this city.
  • Place de la Comédie in Montpellier: A vast and bustling square dotted with cafés, historic buildings, and outdoor markets.

Where to Stay

Languedoc is home to diverse hotels and accommodation to suit every budget. Here are a few recommendations. 

If you have the means, there are few hotels in the Languedoc to rival the luxury and atmosphere of the four-star Hôtel de la Cité in Carcassonne with its fabulous views over the fortified walls. 

Le Donjon in Carcassonne is inexpensive, it's in the heart of La Cité and you will feel like you've stepped right into the Middle Ages. 

The 4-star boutique Villa Duflot in Perpignan is lush and luxurious. 

Hotel Eve, the only hotel in Cap d'Agde's naturist quarter, is for those who like throwing caution to the winds.