Culture and excursions
Languedoc has a long and colorful history starting with Celts, Greek settlers , Roman occupation with Via Domitia, the world heritage site Pont du Gard. The visigoths, the moors and the Cathars, all of them leaving imprints in history an culture. Below is a small selection of all that you can find around.
Carcassone La Cité-
The earliest dates for settlements here can be dated back to 3500 BC. In 1130, The Chateau Comtal was built on the old remnants . In the beginning of 1200 it was a stronghold for the Cathars of the dualism religion, but after a successful crusade and eradication by the catholic church and the Pope, the castle became a frontier guard post between Aragonia and France. After the peace in the Pyrenees, it's importance diminished and the stones where used for new buildings. 1849 it was decreed to be tear down. A great effort and restoration instead took place over more than a decade. It is now a medieval city totally renowned to its former glory and and listed as a World Heritage site. A must see and best vacation idea ever!
A medieval town, built as defense and strategic harbor by Louis IX/ Saint Louis in the 13th century on old reminiscing from the 8th century, when a abbey was founded here. Aigues Mortes was the the port where the Knights of the Temple and the crusades to the Holy Land was shipped and where the survivors returned. The king Louis IX himself participated in two (the 7th and the 8th crusade) of the crusades himself. The town was later re-inforced even more and shows today walls and towers all around. It is very picturesque and interesting place as a day out. It is located just south of Montpellier at the moorlands. Around the remparts, there are shallow basins for salt extraction and the Compagnie de Salins started their business here 1893. There is a small train to take you around and to discover the salins and a small museum and a shop where you can purchase the different salts. In spring and early summer, the basins are chock pink due to a plankton, loved by the shrimps, who in turn is loved by the flamingoes. Go there and you will experience the gracile birds, the town and the salins!
St Guilheim le Desért
In the heart of the Hérault Gorges, in the Val de Gellone, the medieval village of Saint-Guilhem-le-Désert is in a green setting along the meandering Verdus stream.
Its houses are snuggled tightly together in ancient alleyways, with roof tiles baked by the Languedoc sun for twelve centuries. See traces of the past in their arcatures, their lintels, their gemelled windows…Built around the Abbey of Gellone, the village has kept its impressive medieval imprint and constitutes a rare, harmonious site in Languedoc.
This Classified Site, is one of the most beautiful villages in France and today its abbey is registered as a World Heritage Site by UNESCO in conjuncton with the french section of St James' Way to Santiago de Compostela in western Spain.
The first roman road in Gaul (France) to link the empire to Hispania(Spain&Portugal) Built 118 BC, it was stone paved on and old mythical road from the time of Heracles. Hannibal used it on his way from Hispania to Italy. Traces and some bridges can today be found on various places and in Narbonne there's a part exposed in Place de l'Hôtel de Ville.
Le Pays de Cathare
The Cathars flourished in the region around the 12th century introducing a new way of looking to Christianity-Dualism, believing only in a good God and his evil adversary. They called themselves christians, but the catholic church regarded them as heretics and launched on a full scale crusade in the early 1200. Stronghold known as castles remains, for example Château de Peyrepertuse, Château de Coustaussa, Château de Montségur. Guided tours can be booked. Cathar Castles
An Ancient hilltop town, built 600 BC with a museum. Stunning view of the surroundings. A crossroad of Canal du Midi, ancient drainage dating early 1500 century, roads and railways. At Malpas, it all come together!
Canal du Midi
A beautiful and tranquil 240 kms long waterway connecting the Atlantic Ocean to the Mediterranean, where you can rent a boat by the day, go for a cruise or cycle along the side. The Canal is the oldest working canal in the world, with 328 locks, rising 200 metres over sea level. It was invented and built by Pierre-Paul Riquet starting in 1668, but already Roman emperors as Nero and Augustus contemplated the advantages of a canal connecting the two seas. Canal du Midi is a World Heritage site and the early model to the Swedish Göta Kanal.
The city of Albi
Albi has the largest building in the world, built in brick, the vast Chatédrale de Sainte Cécile. It was built in the between 1200-1400 as a demonstration of the power of the church, ending the 40 year long civil war on the Albigeois or Chatars, starting with the massacre in Béziers 1209, killing 15 000 men, women and children and ended with the total eradication of all Chatars in ca 1255. The Chatédrale was listed as Unesco World Heritage in 2010. The village can also boast with the oldest bridge in France still in use, Pont Vieux (built 1035) and a imposing castle, Palais de Berbie, which houses a large exhibition of art on Henri Toulouse-Lautrec, the famous artist son of the village. Many nice restaurants and chmbre dhôtes if you want to stay the night.
A renowned Cisternian Abbey founded in 1138. The present church was built in 1257 in classical gothic style. From the 12h to the 14th century, it was one of the richest abbeys in southern France After the french revolution is was turned into a winery which most probably made it survive. It has won prices of recognition of the restoration. Today it makes it's own wine A.O.P Languedoc and beer made in the style of Trappist monks. The Abbayé has a restaurant and do "Balade gourmands et de vins"
A pretty little village at the foot of the Massif Central this is an excellent starting point for your hiking. Beautiful surroundings, fantastic view and an on top of the village and old fort, the "Balaruc" from the 1100th century dedicated to Notre-Dame-de-la-Roque. Some great winemakers A.O.P Faugères complete the picture