France is famous the world over as one of Europe’s main beachside holiday destinations. Every year, millions of tourists are attracted to the shimmering azure of the Mediterranean Sea. While traditionally, the world famous Cote d’Azur and Provence regions have attracted the majority of visitors, their western counterpart, the Languedoc, has remained relatively unexplored.
In recent years, the Languedoc has seen a surge in popularity – and for good reason. The coast boasts miles of wide sandy beaches, while further inland you’ll find quaint local villages virtually untouched by tourism and surrounded by acres of vineyards.
The Languedoc has a distinctly family friendly character with many things to see and do for young and old. What’s more, holidaying here doesn’t have to break the bank – you can book a holiday home in the Languedoc for very reasonable prices compared to more eastern areas, and there’s a choice of affordable campsites dotted along the coast.
Here are some of our absolute favourite places to visit:
While perhaps no longer a hidden gem, Collioure is a long standing favourite on the Côte Vermeille and the Languedoc-Roussillon in general. With its iconic lighthouse and castle against the stunning mountainous backdrop, this medieval town was an inspiration to painters such as Picasso and Braque – and it continues to inspire today.
Get lost among the cobbled stone streets and winding alleyways and find picture perfect streets and squares, art galleries and boutique shops. Or simply soak up the sun on one of the many terraces, or laze away the afternoon on the beach near the village.
Perched high on the cliffs and surrounded by deep gorges where the rivers Brian and Cesse meet, Minerve was once a bastion of prosecuted Cathars until it was destroyed by Simon de Montfort during his siege in 1210. Now, it’s a haven of peace and quiet where you can climb the remnants of the defensive walls, snap a shot through arrow slits and marvel at a reconstructed Trebuchet catapult. The town has a very mellow vibe, with a couple of bars and restaurants and a few galleries, and with plenty of parking available just outside the town.
You may recognise the name Minerve from Minervois, the mysterious AOC wine region in the Languedoc, well known for its rich, savoury reds.
Roqubrun is a lovely hillside village located next to the River Orb in the Haut-Languedoc regional park. It heralds the beginning of the Gorges de l’Orb, a wonderful mountainous stretch where the Orb and the road next to it intertwine, creating the perfect scenic drive. That said, if you really want to appreciate the area, try paddling down the Orb by kayak or canoe.
Roqubrun itself is a beautiful village to spend a few hours sitting on a terrace in the sun, wander through the winding cobbled stone streets or laze by the pebble beach along the river and take in the fabulous view of the village.
– Guilhem le Désert
Famous as a stopover on the route of the Camino de Santiago, this picturesque little village certainly has a divine quality. The village is almost hidden in the narrow Gellone valley, famous on account of it’s namesake, the Abbey of Gellone. Don’t forget to visit the nearby Pont du Diable too.
The village makes for a pleasant afternoon wandering through the small winding streets and having a drink or lunch at one of the restaurants lining the central square. For the more adventurous visitor, enjoy a long walk or swim in the nearby Gorge de l’Hérault, surrounded by nature.
Finally, make sure you pay a visit to Lagrasse. This wonderful town is a true hidden gem, and has recently come to fame by being named as of the most beautiful villages in France. Don’t be surprised if the town gets very busy during the summer months. The winding streets are the idea place to get lost for a few hours, while the small bridges over the River Orbieu give this town an insta-perfect look – bliss.