Languedoc

Stretching from the Spanish border to the Rhone valley, this region is blessed with a varied and beautiful landscape. You’ll find coastal plains with heady Mediterranean fragrances, long sandy beaches, and wide open skies, as well as rural wooded valleys, deep pine forests, and of course, the high snowy peaks of the Pyrenees. Vines have been growing in this area since before man existed, and the Languedoc region produces a vast quantity of wine. As well as the dramatic Tarn Gorges, the region boasts the oldest major canal in the world, the Canal de Midi, built in 1681. Coastal resorts of the area include Cap d’Agde, Palavas and Narbonne Plage. If you’re looking for things to do with the family in Languedoc, you’ll see lions and giraffes roaming wild at the Sigean African Reserve, or you could cool off at Aqualand, a waterpark in Cap d’Adge.

The historic city of Nîmes is centred around the roman Arena of Nîmes which is still used today for bullfighting and concerts. Wander amongst the fountains of the 18th century Jardins de la Fontaine. Just north-east of Nîmes you’ll find the Pont du Gard: a magnificent three-tiered roman aqueduct.

Toulouse is known as the “pink city” for its distinctive brick architecture. This ancient university city is thriving contemporary metropolis whose cultural scene has bloomed in recent years. Check out the Basilica of Saint-Sernin, the largest Romanesque church in Europe, with its wedding cake of a bell-tower. Toulouse’s artistic scene is young and hip: keep an eye out for spectacular street art by renowned graffiti artists such as Miss Van.

The boulevards and 18th century architecture of sunny Montpellier contrast with the narrow streets of its medieval centre. Don’t miss the famous walled city of Carcassone, with its medieval crenellated ramparts and conical-roofed towers – it's an absolute must-see.

The coastal city of Perpignan, nestled in the foothills of the Pyrenees is a charming place. Its fortified gothic Palace of the Kings of Majorca, built in 1309, is the setting for an annual guitar festival in August. If you fancy a day trip from Perpignan you could take the open top Train Jaune up into the Pyrenees and enjoy the stunning views and the fresh, pine-scented, mountain air.

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