In many ways, Languedoc, also referred to as Languedoc-Roussillon, is more an idea than a geographical entity. The modern région covers only a fraction of the lands where Occitan (or the langue d’oc – the language of oc, the southern Gallo-Latin word for oui) once dominated, which stretched south from Bordeaux and Lyon into Spain and northwest Italy.
The heartland today is the Bas Languedoc – the coastal plain and dry, stony vine-growing hills between Carcassonne and Nîmes that boasts great wine. It’s here that the Occitan movement has its power base, demanding recognition of its linguistic and cultural distinctiveness.
Places to visit in the Languedoc Region
Languedoc’s long-contested history has left it with a tremendous variety of sights for the visitor. Nîmes has extensive Roman remains, while the medieval town of Carcassonne is a must-see, with the latter providing access to the romantic Cathar castles to the south.
City of Carcassonne © AWP76 / Shutterstock
There’s also splendid ecclesiastical architecture in Albi and St-Guilhem-le-Désert. Montpellier’s university ensures it has a buzz that outstrips the city’s modest size, while Toulouse, the cultural capital of medieval and modern Languedoc, though officially outside the administrative région, is a high point of any itinerary.
The many other Rousillon points of interest include great swathes of beach where – away from the major resorts – you can still find a kilometre or two to yourself, along with wonderful dramatic landscapes and river gorges, from the Cévennes foothills in the east to the Montagne Noire and Corbières hills in the west.
Albi © Natashilo / Shutterstock
Weather in the Languedoc-Roussillon
The summer months are of course the warmest in the Languedoc-Roussillon region with average temperatures in the day reaching 30 degrees in July and August. It rarely gets cold as such in Languedoc, only for a few weeks in the middle of winter, other than this, it is relatively warm all year round with little rain.
Top Image: Roman Aqueduct in Pont du Gard, Languedoc-Roussillon © Travel Light / Shutterstock