A good part of the political character of Languedoc derives from resentment of domination by remote and alien Paris, aggravated by the area’s traditional poverty. In recent times this has been focused on Parisian determination to drag the province into the modern world, with massive tourist development on the coast and the drastic transformation of the cheap wine industry. It is also mixed up in a vague collective folk memory with the brutal repression of the Protestant Huguenots around 1700, the thirteenth-century massacres of the Cathars and the subsequent obliteration of the brilliant langue d’oc troubadour tradition. The resulting antipathy towards central authority has made an essentially rural and conservative population vote traditionally for the Left – except during the first decade of this century, which saw wide support for Le Pen’s resurgent Front National. Although a sense of Occitan identity remains strong in the region, it has very little currency as a spoken or literary language, despite the popularity of university-level language courses and the foundation of Occitan-speaking elementary schools.

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