A brief Introduction to the Languedoc, France

The Languedoc-Roussillon is one of the most fascinating areas of Europe, bordering the Mediterranean Sea to the east and the Pyrenees Mountains to the south. It benefits from an exceptional climate (a “Mediterranean Climate”) and has an unusually rich wildlife, a spectacular coast, and surprising history. Things to see include mountains, rivers and lakes, ancient cities, towns, villages, thermal springs, abbeys, and cathedrals, châteaux and castles, notably the famous mountain fortresses popularly known as Cathar Castles. It possesses a number of World Heritage sites, including Carcassonne, the Canal du Midi, and the Pont du Gard.

In recent years it has become a popular French holiday destination, with long sunny days, Mediterranean beaches, tourist facilities, thousands of miles of walks, and rides, National Parks and wildlife reserves (such as the Camargue and the Cevennes), thermal springs and spas, grottoes and caves, and vestiges of the Languedoc’s long history, including dinosaur bones and eggs, prehistoric human remains, dolmens and megaliths, geology, archaeology and palaeontology, Greek and Roman architecture, and everywhere reminders of the the Cathars, the papal Crusade against them, and the Papal Inquisition that followed the crusade.

Time in the Languedoc now

Things to do in the Languedoc-Roussillon include a range of holidays, including naturist holidays and activity holidays. Sports include a wide range of land sports, water sports, air sports, mountain sports, winter sports, golf, hunting, shooting, hawking, and fishing. There are also numerous cultural activities, along with French regional food specialties, and Languedoc wines. Local festivals range from bull-running to the Fecos in Limoux and from sea-jousting in the north to celebrating la jour de St-Jean in the south by fire-jumping.

French 10 centimes stamp, 1944, showing the coat of arms of the LanguedocThe modern Languedoc-RoussillonThe Languedoc has a rich prehistory and history, including Celts, Hannibal with his elephants, Greeks, Romans, Visigoths, Moors, and Franks. Find out about the Medieval period, before the area was annexed by France, when its language, the Langue d’Oc, was the premier literary language of Europe, and its rulers, the Counts of Toulouse, were the most tolerant and enlightened rulers in the Western World.

The name Languedoc is used in many different ways: it can denote an area once known as Septimania, or a larger area once ruled by the The House of Toulouse which was annexed by France and cut down to become the Province of Languedoc under the ancien regime. It can also be used the denote the area where Occitan was the first language – over a third of modern France plus small parts of modern Spain and modern Italy. This area was once called Languedoc and is now more usually called Occitania. The term Languedoc can also be used to denote the four departements in the modern French region of Languedoc-Roussillon (Aude, Gard, Hérault, Lozère, but not the Pyrénées-Orientales). For more on the changing names and borders of the Languedoc click on this link to Provincia Gallia Narbonensis, Septimania, the Kindom of Narbonne, Gothia, County of Toulouse, Province of Languedoc, Occitania and Languedoc-Roussillon