Sud de France Magazine - Summer 2015

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summer winter alike...



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The “Sud de France” brochures in English can be downloaded from the website or by downloading the iPad application Mon Sud de France. Keep in touch with current events in tourism in the Languedoc-Roussillon Region by subscribing to the e-newslettersVacances en Languedoc-Roussillon and Prestige Languedoc-Roussillon on the website

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Winter 201 4-2015


ER 20



Lan nCe

Art of living

A local area for true gastronomy


Cathar country, the citadels of vertigo Paulilles, a unique bay Nîmes, beauty in stone Mende, a territory for escapes Sète, between the lagoon and the deep blue sea

5 ideas for discovery tours throughout the region


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Envie d’évasion ?

Direcion de la Communication de Sud de France Développement 03/2015

Crédits photos : Gettyimages - Thinkstock

Ressourcez-vous en Languedoc-Roussillon !

Un week-end au Pont du Gard, un séjour dans un domaine viticole des Corbières, un city-break à Perpignan, une immersion dans le Moyen-Age au cœur de Carcassonne, une initiation golf au bord de la Méditerranée, un séjour bien-être à Montpellier, une escapade gastronomique en

destination sud de france

Naturellement privilegiee Rejoignez-nous sur

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Rejoignez-nous !

Réservez vos prochaines vacances en Languedoc-Roussillon 19/03/2015 16:05:58

Lozère ou à Nîmes... Venez découvrir les plus belles adresses du Languedoc-Roussillon regroupées sous une signature d’excellence : le Cercle Prestige ! Ces établissements contribuent au rayonnement et à l’attractivité de la destination Sud de France Languedoc-Roussillon.

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Special edition published by the Société du Journal Midi Libre a limited company with a capital of € 6,278,802 Main shareholders: Groupe Sud Ouest S.A. Head Office: rue du Mas de Grille 34430 Saint-Jean-de-Védas Mailing address: 34438 Saint-Jean-de-Védas Cedex Tel.: +33 (0)4 67 07 67 07 A production of Pôle Editions, in collaboration with Sud de France Développement Publications Director: Olivier Gérolami Director: Didier Thomas-Radux Tel: 33 (0)4 67 07 66 11 - Mail: Editorial coordination: Didier Thomas-Radux Editorial staff: Victorine Coing, Anne Schoendoerffer, Claire Mondrian, Didier Thomas-Radux Photo credits: Sud de France Développement – A. Cougnenc (4,10,11,13,16,25, 27,48,49,60,63,67,68,74), Midi Libre (p.39,51,61,75, 77,89), BIM (p.31,37,39,57), Marc Dantan (p.45), William Truffy (p.11,19,28, 30,48,60,84), H.Camaléon (p.51), Aurélio Rodriguez (p.15,24,55), Christophe Fortin (p.64), Ronan Jahény (p.64), Musée Hérépian (p.65), Olivier Blondel (p.84,85), Sylvie Cambon (p.26), Vincent Andorra (p.75), Samuel Duplaix (p.34,46,81), Office de Tourisme de Pézenas Val d’Hérault (p.47), Jean-Michel Mart (p.49), Christine Palasz (p.66), Virginie Demorget (p.78), Didier ThomasRadux (p.57), Coopérative Origine Cévennes (p.6), Ville Castelnaudary (p.19), SPP (p.32), Office de Tourisme de Port-Vendres (p.24), Nassira Belmeki (p.35),Alain Pernia (p.40),Olivier Got (p.40,41), Office de Tourisme du Canigou (p.58), Céline Deschamps (p.1,22,23,68,69,70,71,75,76,77,80,81), Michaël Anisset (p.34), Office de Tourisme de Céret (p.27), Office de Tourisme de Carcassonne (p.18), Office de Tourisme de Sète (p.30), Office de Tourisme d’Uzès (p.15), Office de tourisme de Vernet-les-Bains (p.54), Jean-François Salles (p.53), Christophe Levillain (p.57), Luc Malepeyre (p.36), Bertrand Pichène (p.36). Cover photo: Getty images, Thinkstock Printed in Europe. Legal deposit: on publication. ISSN number: 2112-7468 Joint Committee: 0418K 90782. Midi Libre – April 2015 ©

More information To read more about and discover the Languedoc-Roussillon, “South of France Development – Tourism in LanguedocRoussillon” has several additional resources available: Website: Iphone app: monSuddeFrance The small black square attached is a QR code that lets you connect straight to the site By scanning this code with your smartphone, you'll go straight to the South of France homepage. Development – Tourism in Languedoc-Roussillon.





rom Camargue to the Pyrenees, from the Lozère highlands to the Côte Vermeille by way of the piedmont and the plains of Languedoc, Languedoc-Roussillon is a region of authentic pleasures which are just asking to be shared. The unique is within reach everywhere: with six sites already (Causses and Cévennes, the citadel of Carcassonne, the Canal du Midi, the Pont du Gard, the Santiago di Compostella Pilgrim Routes and the Vauban fortresses), Languedoc-Roussillon is thus the Region of France that is the most endowed with monuments and places on the UNESCO list of World Heritage Sites and is one of the least urbanised in France. It is also the choice location for the Grands Sites de France as five sites (out of 14 in France) have been awarded this distinction for the most beautiful landscapes in France. Five other sites are in the process of obtaining this label. Everywhere in Languedoc-Roussillon – from the Eastern Pyrenees to Lozère, from Hérault to Aude through Gard – the intimate links between the landscape and the architecture and between the villages and the people are obvious. Nature has been preserved and is accessible to all, a source of harmony, pleasure and relaxation. However, the wealth of this region, which is so diverse, extends far beyond a plain “visual” approach: It is a genuine kaleidoscope of colours, scents and flavours – from the fast-paced cities and the villages that retain their unique charm to the prize-winning chefs, proud ambassadors of the regional gastronomy and the excellent wineries welcoming wine tourists. A land which makes the South of France a synonym for sensual pleasures. Damien Alary, President of the Languedoc-Roussillon Region SUDDEFRANCE - 1 -

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• CAUSSES ET CÉVENNES .................................................................... P. 6


• VAUBAN FORTRESSES OF VILLEFRANCHE AND MONT-LOUIS .................. P. 10 • SANTIAGO DI COMPOSTELLA PILGRIM ROUTES .................................... P. 11 • PONT DU GARD ............................................................................. P. 12 • CITADEL OF CARCASSONNE .............................................................. P. 16 • CANAL DU MIDI.............................................................................. P. 20



Culture and Heritage City of Art Remnants of the Past

ARGELÈS-SUR-MER, BAIE DE PAULILLES, ELNE, ILLE-SUR-TÊT, THUIR, CÉRET .................................................................................... P. 24

Thermal Station




• PERPIGNAN AND THE SURROUNDING AREA .......................................... P. 36


• NARBONNE AND THE SURROUNDING AREA .......................................... P. 38

Waterways Golf Animal Park

• A REGION OF DESIGN AND AUDACITY .................................................. P. 40

• BÉZIERS AND THE SURROUNDING AREA .............................................. P. 42


• MONTPELLIER AND THE SURROUNDING AREA ....................................... P. 44 • NÎMES AND THE SURROUNDING AREA ................................................ P. 48 • MENDE AND THE SURROUNDING AREA ............................................... P. 52



• CANIGOU ...................................................................................... P. 54 • SALSES FORTRESS AND THE SURROUNDING AREA ................................. P. 55

Mountain Resort Marina River trips

• CATHAR COUNTRY CASTLES .............................................................. P. 58 • MONT-AIGOUAL ............................................................................ P. 62


• SAINT-GILLES AND BEAUCAIRE .......................................................... P. 63



• WINES OF THE “SUD DE FRANCE” .................................................... P. 70 • MAP OF THE WINES AND PRODUCTS MARKED “SUD DE FRANCE” ............ P. 72

• GASTRONOMY .............................................................................. P. 74



• OUTDOOR ACTIVITIES ..................................................................... P. 84

TGV Station Landscaped gardens Regional Nature Park Company tour

• AQUATIC AND NAUTICAL ACTIVITIES ................................................... P. 85

• THE MOUNTAINS IN SUMMER ............................................................ P. 85 • NAUTICAL ACTIVITIES ...................................................................... P. 86 • GOLF ........................................................................................... P. 87 • ART AND MUSEUMS ...................................................................... P. 88 • FESTIVALS AND TRADITIONS .............................................................. P. 89 • THE CINEMA IN LANGUEDOC-ROUSSILLON .......................................... P. 90 • ARTS AND CRAFTS .......................................................................... P. 92 • WELL-BEING .................................................................................. P. 93

• CUSTOM-MADE HOLIDAYS ............................................................... P. 94

• ARRANGING THE TRIP ..................................................................... P. 95

Eco-friendly Holiday Resort One of the most beautiful villages in France Unesco The “Pavillon Bleu” (“Blue Flag”) - Environment Quality Label

• SUD DE FRANCE BRAND ................................................................... P. 96

The Way of Saint James


Rivers and canals of the Midi

• GARD: AROUND THE CÈZE VALLEY ................................................... P. 34 • EASTERN PYRENEES: AMONG THE MOST BEAUTIFUL CATALAN VILLAGES ... P. 56

• AUDE: IN THE CORBIÈRES FOOTHILLS ................................................ P. 60 • HÉRAULT: FROM SALAGOU TO HAUT LANGUEDOC .............................. P. 64 • LOZÈRE: FROM LA CANOURGUE TO VILLEFORT ................................... P. 66 SUDDEFRANCE - 2 -

The Domitian Way

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Causses et Cévennes Patrimoine de l’Unesco


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Languedoc-Roussillon glories in a unique heritage, forged by nature and history. Few regions of France are as rich in diverse and internationally listed sites. Six exceptional sites have been recognised as part of UNESCO’s World Heritage. Besides the Cité de Carcassonne, the Canal du Midi, and the Chemins de Saint-Jacques-deCompostelle, two of which pass through the region, the listing includes the Pont du Gard, the Vauban Fortifications along the Spanish border, and, since 2011, the landscapes of the Causses and Cévennes. An impressive list, and one likely to be added to in future years, since a scientific panel is putting forward the case for recognising the Cathar cathedrals. From ancient Rome to the Middle Ages, passing through the Crusades, the epic of the Cathars, the Fronde, and all the twists and turns of history, Languedoc and Roussillon have staunchly preserved the traces of a past that shaped the world.













For more information, scan this QR code with your smart phone or log on to:

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TheCausses and theCévennes, anareaof outstanding universalvalue


hese vast lands cover 3,000 km2, unfurling over four departments, three of which fall within the Languedoc-Roussillon region: Lozère, Hérault and Gard, proudly standing between the gateway cities of Alès, Ganges, Lodève and Mende. The diverse range of landscapes are each as stunning as the next. The valleys of the Cévennes are uniformly adorned with chestnut groves, vineyards and mulberry trees. Mounts Aigoual and Lozère stand tall with their spiked and jagged granite ridges and unbounded views over swathes of forestry and the migratory herds of the grasslands. The Causses are vast limestone plateaus, scattered with rocky outcrops, stretches of turf and tumultuous gorges, scarring the mountainside... An architectural covenant established between man and nature, the Causses and the Cévennes have succeeded in safeguarding this magnificent landscape for generations to come. The scenery is very much representative of the Mediterranean mountainous region, which is unfortunately in steady decline throughout Europe, along with the traditional agricultural-pastoral way of life – non-mechanical farming methods and cattle-breeding – that thrived upon it for so long. And it is precisely because this distinctive terrain was forged over generations of families, both past and present, developing systems of agriculture, forestry and grazing livestock, that in June, it was listed by Unesco as a world heritage site. A total of 231 communities form part of this listing, of which 86 are in Gard, 82 in Lozère and 28 in Hérault. The highlands of the Causses and their wide-open expanses of dry

grasslands have, for so long, born the fruit of our ancestors’ labour and are still abundantly productive today, sheep breeding being the most advantageous sector. Despite the revolution in farming methods, with the decrease in the number of farmers (no more than 100 are presently active) and the increase in the size of holdings having meant that herding has seen a great many changes over the years, agro-pastoralism has remained close to its roots and continues to be practised in much the same way as it ever was.

A cultural, natural and environmental heritage Elsewhere, upon the high granite plains, cowherding/breeding is a prominent feature, whereas further down among the Cévennes shale-strewn valleys, goat rearing tends to be the more popular choice. The inherent value of these rich lands has resulted in the presence of a variety of farming organisations and methods dispersed throughout the Mediterranean region including agro-pastoralism, forestry, cattle herding and semi-migratory livestock breeding. Among the areas recognised by UNESCO, lie the Cévennes National Park and the Regional Nature Park of the Grands Causses, as well as exceptional sites of profound beauty : the Tarn gorges, an intricate series of rocky crevasses, the Circus of Navacelles (photo), an enormous meander chiselled into the ground, a canyon left abandoned by the River Vis... But this region of international repute also entices visitors into exploring other paths, the roads less travelled, where they are invited to unearth yet more of the treasures that this SUDDEFRANCE - 6 -


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TO DO CIRQUE DE NAVACELLES* Nestled in the heart of the Gorges de la Vis, a real canyon which cuts through the Causses du Larzac in the south and Blandas and Campestre in the north, the Cirque de Navacelles constitutes a geological curiosity. With a depth of 300 meters, it is actually a circular meander that has been left dry by the River Vis, which traced a new, more direct route, creating a waterfall 8 meters high. A cross-country walk from Belvédères starting out at Blandas enables you to discover from the plateau this famous “Cirque”. You can then go down by several hiking routes. During the summer, a shuttle bus service is provided at Blandas. Maison des Belvédères, Blandas. Tel. +33 (0)4 99 51 60 36 * Labelled “Tourisme Sud de France”

TRUNK BEEHIVES The people of Cévennes used to cut hollow trees into sections that were colonised by bees. These beehive trunks were once very common. A beehive conservatory has been set up in Arrigas on a pastoral site by the river. Free access. Etable du grand Champ, route de Peyraube, Arrigas.


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La Grand-Combe



UNUSUAL/CHAOS DE NÎMES In the heart of the Cévennes National Park, the Chaos de Nîmes-le-Vieux is a strange cluster of limestone rocks that look like a ruined city. The landscape was carved out by the scalpel of erosion: the effect of water, frost, sun and wind, creating strange and fantastic shapes in the dolomitic limestone. The site is accessible via the Col du Perjuret. A nature trail crosses the Chaos between the hamlets of Hom and Gally, departing from Veygalier.



Saint-Jeandu-Gard Anduze




Ga rd




Saint-Chaptes rd






1565 m Mont Aigoual


magnificent collision between nature and generations upon generations of man has to offer... Isolated farms, small hamlets, vaulted barns – used for keeping sheep, cellars, the flatlands – used by shepherds for herding in the summertime, sheep-trails, cattle tracks, natural oases used for watering livestock, bridges over the rivers and streams… So many features are revealed, all of them demonstrating proof of the ever-present agro-pastoral system. Along the Cévennes valley slopes, the construction of stone-reinforced terraces divided up by dry-stone walling testifies to the necessity of expanding useable land for agricultural purposes. On the Mont Lozère, granite blocks engraved with the Maltese cross serve as a strong visual reminder of the erstwhile occupancy of these lands by the “Hospitaliers” (a military order) and the vast stretches of land they required for their animals. Causses ewes, Aubrac cows and Alpine goats can readily be seen strolling the lengths and breadths of the Cévennes valleys, along the Causses plateaus or the Aigoual peaks, another feature that has been so very much a part of this landscape for over three millennia. ◗



Sauve Quissac




The steamengine train of Cévennes* From Anduze to Saint-Jean-duGard, with a stop at the Bamboo plantation of the “Bambouseraie” [Bamboo park], the celebrated steam train offers an enchanted tour for 13 kilometres in the middle of the green chestnut trees and the rivers, the time to pass through the tunnels and cross the viaducts and bridges in this very typical piedmont landscape of Cevennes. Departures from 10 a.m. 38, place de la Gare 30140 Anduze Tel. +33 (0)4 66 60 59 00

Bambouseraie Prafrance* Created in 1856, this exotic garden located in the middle of Cévennes has become the most remarkable bamboo plantation of Europe. Over 200 varieties of bamboo grow here on 32 hectares. Direction Anduze 30140 Générargues. Tel. +33 (0)4 66 61 70 47

Musée du Désert* This museum retraces the history of Protestantism and the War of the Camisards. Not far away can be seen the stone arches of the Bridge of the Camisards, dating back to the 17th century. Mas Soubeyran 30140 Mialet. Tel. +33 (0)4 66 85 02 72 SUDDEFRANCE - 8 -

EAT & REFRESHMENTS “La Truie qui Doute” Restaurant

In a friendly setting, this restaurant offers fine dining that is both traditional and creative with fresh products of the season. 1840, route de Saint-Jean-du-Gard. 30140 Anduze. Tel. +33 (0)4 66 25 86 89

Sous le Chêne Your hosts will enable you to discover the unbelievable flavours of wild plants blended with local products. At the table under a great chestnut tree, you will enjoy this exceptional setting and will be lulled by the song of the cicadas. Place du Bousquillou 30260 Corconne. Tel. 33 (0)4 66 77 15 85

Auberge des Voutins In a rustic and authentic setting in the heart of a beautiful country house, you will savour traditional refined cuisine prepared with local products. Route d’Uzès 30340 Méjannes-lès-Alès Tel. +33 (0)4 66 61 38 03



Cavalquinta offers day-long treks on horseback on the crests of the Causse de Blandas and evening outings. La Bergerie de Quintanel 30770 Blandas. Tel. +33 (0)6 24 66 23 66

ACCOMMODATION Gardoussel Retreat

Surrounded by forests of chestnuts, poplars and magnificent pine trees, this is an ideal place to relax far from the tumult of the city. The opportunity to discover the heart of the mountains of Cevennes. Gardoussel 30940 Saint-Andréde-Valborgne. Tel. +33 (0)9 64 28 32 71

La Magnanerie d’Anduze In a renovated 18th century stone house, this former silk factory offers 5 guest rooms in the middle of Cévennes. 909, route du mas Miger 30140 Anduze Bagard. Tel. +33 (0)4 66 61 60 33 *Labelled “Tourisme Sud de France”.




Anduze, bastion of Protestantism and potters On the road to Anduze, many of the potteries follow the ancient tradition that produced the famous vase of Florentine inspiration, which bears the name of the city, recognizable by its garlands and medallions in shades of honey, olive green and brown (photo). Southern gateway to the Cévennes, Anduze is a smiling city. Leading off the main street with its many restaurant terraces are narrow, winding streets with a Medieval feel to them. The 14th century Clock Tower is the only trace of the ramparts that once protected this military centre, a bastion of Protestantism. In the middle of the covered square that houses the indoor market, there is the strange “Pagoda Fountain” with its colourful rounded glazed tiles. The square is overlooked by the Protestant church, one of the biggest in France, where concerts are regularly held. Tel. +33 (0)4 66 61 98 17

Alès, the capital of Cévennes Alès, a former mining centre, stretches the length of the River Gardon and its four great parks have earned it the label of “floral cities”. In its streets you will encounter the Cathedral of Saint-Jean-Baptiste and the Vauban Fort, a citadel built in the Vauban style. Cross the River Gardon to visit the Museum of Pierre-André-Benoît, a fine arts printer and friend of the great painters, who gave a part of his private collection to his home town. Tel. +33 (0)4 66 52 32 15 -

The silk history of Saint-Hippolytedu-Fort In Saint-Hippolyte-du-Fort, in the time it takes to visit the silk ecomuseum, you can reconnect with the rich past of the Cévennes, when the region was one of the top silk producers in the world. In the museum magnanery, silkworm breeding still goes on for educational purposes. In the spinning mill next door, where the cocoons are emptied, you can learn about the various traditional spinning techniques. Tel. +33 (0)4 66 77 66 47

Unique landscapes on the ledge of the Cévennes From Anduze, you can take the sublime D9 secondary road, perched on the ledge of the Cévennes, which offers breathtaking scenery, mountains and valleys folding into the distance. You arrive in Florac in Lozère, headquarters of the Cévennes National Park, housed in the feudal castle of Florac. Nearby, the waters of Pesquier spring tumble down the limestone bolders in a series of cascades.. Tel. +33 (0)4 66 49 53 00

Portes, a stone vessel anchored to the mountains North of Alès, this old fortress overlooks the valley from its prow in the form of a spur perched on a ridge. Built in the 11th century, this castle, which overlooks the Régordane Way, also shelters a beautiful three-storey Renaissance house with monumental fireplaces. Tel. +33 (0)4 66 54 92 05

Vézénobres, crossroads of the south Built to survey the area surrounding the Regordane way (one of the Ways of St James) between the Mediterranean and Auvergne, this lovely perched village became very prosperous thanks to agriculture. The ruins of its castle still dominate the scene, overlooking the confluence of its two main tributaries the Gardon d’Alès and the Gardon d’Anduze (hence the local name for the area “Gardonnenque”). There are superb views of the garrigue and the Cévennes, and as you wander through the village you will discover beautiful medieval houses, the oldest of which date back to the 12th century. Famous for its fig production, Vézénobres continues to celebrate this fruit with a fig festival in November and a fig orchard-conservatory. Tel. +33 (0)4 66 83 62 02 -



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TO SEE/MONT-LOUIS, HIGHEST FORTIFIED TOWN When France retook Roussillon from Spain in 1659 and signed the Treaty of the Pyrenees putting an end to the war, the military architect Vauban was put in charge of finding the new stronghold of the Conflent. After much searching, he found it here, at Mont-Louis (Eastern Pyrenees), at the junction of the Conflent, the Capcir and the Cerdagne Valleys. The work began in 1679. From the citadel, the soldiers could keep an eye on the rival stronghold, Puigcerdá, in Spanish territory. Below the citadel, civilians would wait a few decades before settling here. Today, Mont-Louis has nearly 300 inhabitants. Perched at an altitude of 1600 meters, it is considered to be the highest fortified town in France. Its fortifications have also been listed on the UNESCO World Heritage sites.And even today they host one of the last military formations to occupy a site designed by Vauban: the National Commando Training Centre, where nearly 4,000 recruits undergo military training every year on this site.

Enduring fortresses Villefranche-de-Conflent, listed as Unesco World Heritage, is also one of the 14 “Forts Vauban” listed sites.


illefranche (Pyrénées-Orientales) is renowned for its pink marble facing and, above all, for its surrounding fortifications to which it owes its name Villefranche, meaning “well-guarded”. The medieval city was founded in 1092 by the count of Cerdagne, to protect the surrounding valleys from invasion. The French conquered the town in 1654, obliging the Spanish to retreat. The fortifications were subsequently dismantled by the subjects of the king of France. Then, in

1669, the ramparts were built once again according to plans drawn up by certain Marquis de Vauban. The latter was appointed Marshal of France by Louis XIV for having given France an “Iron belt”, an allegory of the multiple fortifications, including Villefranche, designed by the military architect. As visitors stroll along its paved streets, they can still make out the remains of the town as it was in the Middle Ages. “La tour du Diable”, near the church, originally dates back to the medieval period as do “la porte du Roussillon” and the “la porte de France”. The fortifications and the famous Fort Libéria both date back to the Vauban period. Created by the architect in 1681, the fort lies outside the city, set into the mountainside. It looks out over the town to which it is connected by an underground passageway, commonly named the “one thousand step” stairway. In fact, there are only 734 steps... But nothing beats. ◗ SUDDEFRANCE - 10 -

TO SEE/SOLAR OVENS* Installed in 1947 in the Vauban citadel itself, the Mont-Louis solar oven was a precursor of solar energy. Invented by Professor Félix Trombe, the Mont-Louis solar oven with its double reflector served as a model throughout the world, demonstrating the potential of solar energy and its multiple high-temperature applications (owing to the absolute purity of the concentration of solar energy and the total absence of pollution). In 1993, after a seven-year hiatus, the Mont-Louis solar oven was reactivated by the engineer Denis Eudeline. For this he created the “Four Solaire Développement” Company, which was the first and only business in the world to operate on the private exploitation of a solar oven – that is, on total self-financing, uniquely from the sales of ceramics fired by the concentration of solar rays and objects cast in bronze with a solar oven and jewellery. *Labelled “Tourisme Sud de France”.

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◗◗◗ ◗


TO SEE/SAINT-GUILHEMLE-DÉSERT The Via Tolosana, or the Arles Route, was used by pilgrims from Central Europe, Provence and the Italian peninsula. Partly following the old Roman Via Domitia, this southern itinerary crosses Gard and the Hauts-Cantons of Hérault to reach Toulouse.The first stage in LanguedocRoussillon of this GR 653 was the Abbey of Saint-Gilles (see page 63). After this, the route follows farm lanes and then crosses Montpellier. Then it crosses the celebrated Pont du Diable at Saint-Jean-de-Fos (to visit), the oldest Roman bridge in France, built by the monks of the Abbey of Saint-Guilhem-le-Désert (on the UNESCO World Heritage list as part of the Santiago di Compostello Pilgrims’ Way). It was here that around the year 1000, pilgrims converging from the East and Italy towards Spain stopped to rest at the Abbey of Gellone (804), in the scrublands. This jewel of Romanesque art shelters the relics of Saint-Guilhem and fragments of the cross of Christ (a gift from Charlemagne). Visited by many pilgrims and tourists, the village of SaintGuilhem is a haven of beauty in the middle of untamed natural surroundings, not far from the Cirque de l’Infernet and the Gorges of the River Hérault. Don’t forget about the vineyards that produce the wines of Languedoc which are among the most renowned. After Lodève, the GR 653 heads towards the Priory of SaintMichel-de-Grandmont.

In thefootsteps of thepilgrims

LAJO ST-ALBAN Of the four historic pilgrimage routes leading to the relics of Saint James in Spain, two pass AUMONT-AUBRAC through Languedoc-Roussillon: the Chemin MALBOUZON VIA PODIENSIS d’Arles and the Chemin du Puy-en-Velay. NASBINALS CONQUES






he strength and beauty of these spectacular routes, with a host of monuments and unique tourist sites marking the way were surely factors in the decision made by Unesco to add the Way of Saint James to its list of world heritage sites in 1998. In 813 the tomb of Saint James the Greater was thought to have been unearthed in Santiago de Compostela and ever since, these pathways have seen a steady stream of pilgrims making the journey on foot to see histomb. Since the 12th century, the “Codex Calixtinus”, written by Aimery Picaud, has provided a wealth of advice for pilgrims










from all over Europe taking the routes that lead to these relics. The Via Podiensis (“Way of Puy”) lies between Puy-en-Velay and Roncevaux and the Via Tolosana also crosses Languedoc-Roussillon from East to West and is counted among the four main routes. The Via Podiensis is the oldest of the routes leading to Compostela. Inaugurated in 951 by Bishop Godescalc, it extends over no fewer than 1,530 kilometres and starts at Puy-enVelay, crossing the magnificent heights of Gévaudan in Lozère, today labelled the GR 65. We enter Lozère via Aumont-Aubrac. It is most probably upon this section of the route that the stunning vistas are matched only by SUDDEFRANCE - 11 -

the feeling of solitude from which the route derives its image and profound sense of spirituality. There are pastures as far as the eye can see, over which, in the summer months, Aubrac cows peacefully graze. In winter, the same scenery succumbs to an almost tragic beauty as nature and the landscapes appear to mourn the end of summer. Between Nasbinals and Saint-Chély-d’Aubrac, the route soars to 1,368 metres, one of the highest points along the route. And here, yet more astounding beauty. This point is considered a historic landmark and is symbolic of the world heritage that the the Way of Saint James represents. ◗

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ThePont duGard, astoneflagship in thegarrigue Built in around 50 years AD, the Pont du Gard is the centrepiece of a 50 km long aqueduct, supplying Nimes. And the majestic symbol of the genius of mankind.


or two thousand years this stone sentinel has been soaring over the river Gardon, close to the boundaries of the Gard department, not far from Nimes and Avignon. A symbol of the genius of Roman architecture, the Pont du Gard is but a tiny link of a structure stretching over 50 kilometres, connecting the sources of the river Eure, near Uzes, to Nimes which, in the first century AD, was one of the largest GalloRoman settlements. The aqueduct was built to provide the city with new possibilities, to create fountains and Roman baths and enhance its prestige within the Roman empire. The bridge remains the jewel of the structure with its 64 arches spread over three le-


• Second part of the 1st century AD

Work on adjustments to the Nîmes aqueduct, which entered into service.

vels, rising to the height of 48.77metres above the river and spanning 490 metres. This makes the Pont du Gard the highest aqueduct bridge of the Roman era. A height commanded by the slope and required to exert pressure on the water within the structure, even though the gradient is not regular throughout. At the outcome, the Romans succeeded in building a structure weighing several million tonnes (the bridge alone is an estimated 50,000 tonnes) with a slope of less than 25 centimetres per kilometre... But in fact, this glorious edifice operated fully for barely 140 years. It began deteriorating as from the 3rd century and the aqueduct was permanently abandoned and partially dismantled for its stone in the 6th century. If the bridge was not demolished, to the contrary of the rest of the structure, it is because the water carrying viaduct was rapidly used as a crossing bridge, even though the contempt of time and mankind threatened its existence on several occasions. It was first repaired in the 1700s, to avoid its imminent ruin. The first restoration campaigns began in 1745 and as from 1840, the bridge figured on the list of major monuments.

• 2nd and 3rd centuries

• Early 6th century

• 14th century

The road from Uzès to Beaucaire, site of a big market fair, Period during which the aqueduct was The aqueduct is completely abancrosses the bridge: the columns of the arches were modiin full operation: 35,000m3 of water doned. The region is divided betconveyed each day from Uzès to Nîmes. ween the Franks and the Visigoths. fied with indentations to allow the passage of carts.


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TO SEE/TO DO The site of the Pont du Gard incorporates a multimedia museum offering a fabulous voyage through Antiquity. A fun way to discover Gallo-Roman civilisation and the essential role of water, the history of the aqueduct and the Pont du Gard through the centuries.

From May to September, the site of the Pont du Gard becomes an enchanting place with a sound, light, pyrotechnics and video-morphing show – the “Fairies of the Bridge” offered by the Groupe F pyrotechnicians from June 5-13. Finally on July 9 and 10 is held the electro-pop festival “Live au Pont”. Tel. +33 (0)4 66 37 50 99

r, di-

• 1696-1702

Extensive restoration work. The 14th century indentations are filled in.

• 1743

• 1840

Construction of a road Inscription of the Pont du Gard bridge next to the in the first list of the historical Pont du Gard. monuments of France.


• 1985

Unesco lists the Pont du Gard as a World Heritage site for Humanity.

• 2000

The new improvements of the site put into service.

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GARD Roquemaure Vézénobres Villeneuvelès-Avignon

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as World Heritage by Unesco in 1985, ➥ Listed the Pont du Gard has been entirely redeve-

loped over the past decade, to become the jewel within a setting of 165 hectares with areas of special interest, the museum of the bridge and aqueduct, a games library and arboretum in the garrigue, hosting an increasing number of events (concerts, fireworks...). Over one million people yearly pace the bridge, the most visited antique monument in France ◗ Site du Pont du Gard Vers-Pont-du-Gard. Tel. +33 (0)820 903 330.

UNUSUAL/ AN INSPIRATIONAL BRIDGE* Paradoxically, it was at the very time that a part of the upper structure of the Pont du Gard was looted for its stones, in the 12th century, that the design of this work inspired other builders. Some architectural elements of the old bridge, particularly its juxtaposed arches forming vaults, served as models for the construction of many Romanesque religious edifices in the region. But the Pont du Gard also inspired the engineers of other bridges. Its system of arches was reproduced for the famous Avignon bridge, Pont SaintBénézet, in the 12th and 14th centuries. The mediaeval bridge Pont-Saint-Esprit also displays architectural elements derived from it.

DISCOVER Medieval Garden In the heart of Uzès, this walled garden stretches to the foot of the King’s Tower and the Bishop’s Tower. The old royal chambers and the Roise Tower can be toured and they offer an exceptional view of Uzès. The garden regularly hosts exhibitions and artistic events.. Impasse Port Royal 30700 Uzès. Tel. +33 (0)4 66 22 38 21

Musée Haribo* Founded in 1996, the museum, placed next to the celebrated brand of confectionery, retraces the history of the manufacture of candies and liquorice. With a taste-test at the end! Pont des Charettes 30700 Uzès. Tel. +33 (0)4 66 22 74 39

Haras nationaux In summer, the guides help you to discover the old horse team hitches, the saddlery and the forge. Many breeds are represented and you can attend a training session by Lucien Gruss with his horses. Mas des Tailles 30700 Uzès. Tel. +33 (0)4 66 22 68 88

RELAX The Eure Valley

* Labelled “Tourisme Sud de France”.

A little haven of peace laid out around the Eure Valley and its spring. On the programme: picnic, fitness path, children’s playground and romantic ruins. Vallée de l’Eure 30700 Uzès. SUDDEFRANCE - 14 -



At the “Entre Vigne et Garrigue” Restaurant*

In a private mansion built between the 17th and 18th centuries, four guest rooms blending modern and antique offer to help you take a break from the daily grind. 17, rue du Docteur-Blanchard 30700 Uzès. Tel. +33 (0)4 66 59 15 74

Decorated with one star in the Michelin guide, the chef Serge Chenet and his son serve the excellent local products of Gard. Route de Saint-Bruno, 30131 Pujaut. Tel. +33 (0)4 90 95 30 29

At the “Guinguette du Vieux Moulin” Restaurant Ideally situated on the banks of the Rhône River with a view of the Palais des Papes, the Guinguette du Vieux Moulin is an agreeable rest-stop to taste the copious dishes. 5, rue du Vieux-Moulin, 30400 Villeneuve-lèsAvignon. Tel. +33 (0)4 90 94 50 72 www.guinguettevieuxmoulin. com

“La Maison” Restaurant* Set in a 17th-century vintner’s house, this restaurant offers fine cuisine that is both traditional and original, enlivened by fresh products of the season. Rue du Presbytère 30330 Gaujac. Tel. +33 (0)4 66 39 33 08


Après la Sieste Between Provence and Cévennes, in an entirely renovated building dating back to 1850, opt for guest rooms that are resolutely zen for a charming holiday. 358, rue Alexis-Martin 30126 Saint-Laurentdes-Arbres. Tel. +33 (0)4 66 50 33 94

Felisa With a charming design in Provence, this guest house offers luxury rooms in an exceptional setting. Jacuzzi and massages are on the programme. 6, rue des Barris 30126 Saint-Laurentdes-Arbres. Tel. +33 (0)4 66 39 99 84 * Labelled “Tourisme Sud de France”





Uzès the enchantress Halfway between Provence and the Cévennes, lost in the garrigue but not far from the Pont du Gard, the small town of Uzès (8400 inhabitants) is aptly described by its nickname “Belle de Pierre” or stone beauty. A City of Art and History, whose restoration began in the 1960s, Uzès has 37 classified or listed historical monuments. Elegantly cobbled, restored streets enhance the beauty of the facades of mansions built in the Middle Ages and the Renaissance, at a time when the Duchy of Uzès had great power and influence. Sublime monuments of this period remain, such as the Ducal Castle (in the same family for over 500 years), Fenestrelle Tower and the bell tower of Saint-Théodorit Cathedral. A city of culture pervaded by the spirit of Jean Racine or André Gide, it has the gentle lifestyle typical of the south, heightened by the markets on Wednesday and Saturday on the beautiful square Place aux Herbes surrounded by vaulted archways.

The washhouses of VersPont-du-Gard Not far from the ancient bridge, this small village has a number of underground springs, the main ones emerging at three remarkable spots: the three lavoirs (washhouses) in the village, built in the shape of pretty little ancient temples, their roofs supported by columns or pillars.

Lussan, hilltop village Perched on a rocky outcrop overlooking the garrigue, Lussan is one of the most beautiful villages in Languedoc with its ramparts and medieval houses. The ramparts and wall-walk offer a magnificent panorama of the Cévennes and the Mont Ventoux. Places to see in the village include the 15th century castle which is now the town hall, the ramparts and the old silk mills. At the foot of the village is the Château de Fan, home of the writer André Gide. From the prehistoric and geological point of view, there are two important places

to visit: the menhir or Pierre Plantée (standing stone) and the sumptuous Concluses Gorges, accessible on foot along the riverbed, testifying to the very ancient presence of man in a remarkably well-preserved natural site.

Saint-Quentin, land of ceramics With a tradition of pottery dating back to the 14th century, the village – designated an Arts and Crafts City – Saint-Quentin-laPoterie is famous for its light, grey, resonant ceramics. There are more than thirty workshops and ceramics galleries in the village, not to mention the Mediterranean Pottery Museum which traces the ceramic history of the village. Every summer in July, the Terralha Ceramics Festival invites you on a tour of the heart of the village, to impromptu exhibition spaces where you can discover the work of contemporary ceramists?

Walk and swimming in the Gardon The Gardon River loops through the plateau, between Russan and Saint-Nicolas bridge, carving its way through the most beautiful cliffs in the canyon. The ridge offers a view of the gorges, the plain and the Cévennes, especially from the panoramic viewpoint at Castellas (free access). There are places to swim along the Gardon, but you can also go canoeing, hiking, caving (the Gardon Gorges are rich in caves). There’s a good swimming spot setting out from the village of Sénailhac, and taking the GR 6 (signposted circuit) to get to a loop in the river. A sublime landscape, not far from the hermitage and chapel of Sainte-Vérédème. From here you can walk down to the Gardon by the cliff, past Baume cave.



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Carcassonne, themillennial stonevessel


n “oppidum” (a fortified hillside camp) in ancient times, Carcassonne became a fortress from the 11th century onwards. As they enter through the main gate, visitors are literally caught up in the maze of paved lanes. The City is known for its famous and impressive illumination on the evening of the 14th of July. It is also famous for its music festival. But we sometimes forget the history of the monument, listed as World Heritage by Unesco in 1997. Yet over 3 million people tread its ground each year. The children, bearing harmless swords with undetermined coats of arm, prove that the spirit of the place remains fascinating. At each turn of the road, if we carefully look at certain buildings, we can make out the traces of dungeons, oubliettes or loopholes in memory of its warrior past. However, the City of Carcassonne is not an open air museum. A hundred or so people still live in its dwellings, protected against any assault by the 3 kilometre long walls and 52 towers.

A blessed basilica and a castle There’s no question of merely strolling the lanes and enjoying the famous home cooked cassoulet that helped to bring fame to the city. As the Saint-Nazaire basilica, whose


• Around 300 BC

The Volcae Tectosages fortified the hill settlement of Carcasso.

stones were blessed by Pope Urbain II in 1096, has everything it takes to fascinate the curious beginning with its stained glass windows. Its magnificent “Tree of Jesse”, that adorns the Virgin’s chapel in the northern wings of the basilica, probably dates back to the end of the 13th century. It represents an allegory of the Christian people, depicted by the ancestors of Jesus Christ. We can also admire the organ dating back to the 17th century, the roman archways above the nave, or the supposed tomb of Simon de Montfort, a key figure of the crusade against the inhabitants of Albi. Another essential visit: the castle founded by the Trencavel dynasty in 1150. The building served as a stately home. Then, when the city was taken by the crusaders, the seneschals of the King of France turned it into a true fortress within the fortress. Today, the castle serves as a lapidary museum and houses a large collection of statues, sarcophaguses and objects typical of the Gallo-Roman and medieval periods.

1,000 years of history and conquests This popular tourist site, overlooking the valley Aude, finds its origins in the Gallo-Roman era. It was in around the 1st century BC that Carcassonne began to take on the substance of a small town. At that time, it was a small oppidum, a sort of refuge, nestled in a safe place on the top of a hill. It developed thanks to its ideal situation. Carcassonne is indeed

• 725

Wali Ambisa took Carcassonne and Septimanie following the conquest of the Visigoth kingdom of Spain and held it for 27 years.


• 1130

Construction of the Château Comtal begins under Bernard Aton.

• 1226

The fortified city comes under the reign of the king of France.

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TO SEE/TO DO FESTIVAL OF CARCASSONNE Every summer, the fortified city of Carcassonne is the grandiose setting of a festival of concerts, theatre and dance performances from 19 June to early August, by internationally renowned artists. Tel. +33 (0)4 68 115 915 www.festivalde CHATEAU COMTAL Visit the castle, the watchtower, the Basilica and the museum directed by the Centre for National monuments. Visits are available with an audio guide or a lecturer (45 mn). Tel. +33 (0)4 68 11 70 70

• 15th century

The fortified city becomes a state prison.

• 17th century

The fortified city is gradually abandoned, unable to resist the new gunpowder weapons.

• 1659

The Treaty of the Pyrenees considerably reduces the strategic character of the fortified city.


• 1844

Viollet-le-Duc begins restoring the old Basilica of Saint Nazarius.

• 1997

Listed as a World Heritage site for Humanity.

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Montagne Noire

UNUSUAL/LADY CARCAS According to a legend that is hardly historical, Carcassonne owes its name to the wife of the deceased Muslim Prince Balaach, when the Arabs were masters of this region. On the death of her husband, Lady Carcas thus managed the life of the citadel and had to deal with the siege of Charlemagne’s troops. It would last for five years. When famine threatened, to lead the enemy into thinking that they could last out the siege, the princess slaughtered the last pig, which was then filled with wheat and thrown to the assailants. Despairing to see that the city under siege still had so much food, the Franks lifted the siege. The princess was ringing the bells when a knight reported to Charlemagne: “Sire, Dame Carcas sonne”. (“Sire, Lady Carcas is ringing the bells”)

Mas-Cabardès Saissac



Castelnaudary Conquessur-Orbiel




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LézignanCorbières Capendu


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right in the middle of a strategic road linking Lauragais, Corbières or, yet again, the Atlantic ocean to the Mediterranean Sea. The City’s many assets, over the centuries, captured the interest of invaders from many different shores. Beginning with the Wisigoths who seized the ramparts in the 5th century. Then came the turn of the Saracens to claim the city walls. In 1082, Carcassonne became the property of the Trencavel family. But that dynasty was not to last long either. Two centuries down the line, the famous crusaders took hold of it and built the second wall, giving the City its current aspect. In the 18th century, it was abandoned, as was the case for many monuments dating back to the Middle Ages. Its houses and walls fell into disrepair. It was only towards the middle of the 19th century that the restoration works undertaken by a certain Eugène Violletle-Duc rescued the old stones doomed to certain death. Nowadays, the City of Carcassonne draws many a crowd... far more well-intentioned. No invaders on the horizon. Just visitors looking for paving stones, towers and vestiges, scattered over the thousand years of history that forged the City as it stands today. ◗







Mouthoumet Couiza

The Lac de la Cavayère

DISCOVER The Abbey of Saint-Papoul First a monastery then a Benedictine Abbey, Saint-Papoul was built as a bishopric between the 14th and 18th centuries. The nave of the church is a jewel of Romanesque art; the cloister is also not to be missed. 5, place Monseigneurde-Langle 11400 Saint-Papoul. Tel. +33 (0)4 68 94 97 75

Moulin de Cugarel Restored in 1962, the building still has the entire milling mechanism required for it to operate. An unusual discovery and a witness of the cultural wealth of Lauragais. 11400 Castelnaudary. Tel. +33 (0)4 68 23 05 73

RELAX Les calèches de la Cité Discover the history and architecture of the citadel of Carcassonne during a tour in a horse-drawn carriage. The opportunity to appreciate a spectacular view of the entire region and to take advantage of a journey back in time. Tel. +33 (0)4 68 71 54 57


This is a nice place to stroll, to swim and picnic in a restful setting. Discover the Mediterranean vegetation and the opportunity to participate in aquatic games every summer. 11000 Carcassonne.

sheepfold was transformed into a restaurant where the local flavours are featured, in order to taste (in moderation) the wines of the estate. Route de Carcassonne 11610 Pennautier Tel. +33 (0)4 68 72 65 29


EAT & REFRESHMENTS the “Parc Franck Putelat” Restaurant* In this indispensable 2-star restaurant, the cuisine is ultracreative and based on local products, such as the bouillabaisse de foie gras de canard. 80, chemin des Anglais 11000 Carcassonne. Tel. +33 (0)4 68 71 80 80

At the “Tirou” Restaurant * In this pleasant setting you will enjoy regional specialties, such as the renowned cassoulet, magret de canard or confit de canard, while enjoying the terrace and the farm animals. 90, av. Monseigneur-Delangle 11400 Castelnaudary. Tel. +33 (0)4 68 94 15 95

At the “Château de Pennautier” Restaurant* The Château de Pennautier is a beautiful 17th century building and a quality vineyard. The old

La Demeure de Saint-Louis In this 18th century bourgeois mansion, the guest rooms offer a panoramic view of the medieval city. 2, rue Michel-Sabatier 11000 Carcassonne. Tel. +33 (0)4 68 72 39 04

Forge de Montolieu

In the middle of the countryside, the owners offer you a relaxed family atmosphere in these peaceful guest rooms in a renovated manor house. They even give cooking lessons here. Hameau de Franc 11170 Montolieu. Tel. +33 (0)4 68 76 60 53

La Maison sur la Colline Friendliness and authenticity are forthcoming in this guest house located two steps away from the Citadel of Carcassonne. Wellbeing and rest are the key words 11000 Carcassonne. Tel. +33 (0)4 68 47 57 94 * Labelled “Tourisme Sud de France”.



Montolieu, the scholarly village Between the foothills of the Black Mountains and south of Cabardès, Montolieu spreads out in the midst of steep gorges. Surrounded by vineyards and their “capitelles” – small dry stone huts – Montolieu has been enriched with bookstores, arts and crafts and a museum of book crafts. Everything here invites you to read and discover paper, from traditional printing to binding. Workshops offer a chance to conduct a real book project. The book village was created at the initiative of Michel Braibant, a bookbinder living in Carcassonne, who wanted to create a book village like those in Great Britain or Belgium. The project began to shape here twenty-five years ago. In 1991, a museum of book crafts was opened to the public. Today, Montolieu’s reputation is well established, with fifteen bookstores, a museum – conservatory and art and craft workshops.

Limoux, cradle of the carnival With over 2000 years of history and a wonderful historic heritage including a medieval bridge, Limoux is doubly famous for its wine made by the champagne method – Blanquette de Limoux – and its carnival, over 1000 years old and the longest in the world. Each winter, from February to April, Limoux celebrates the “Fecos”; masked figures dressed as Pierrots invade the city centre to dance in the cafes under the arches. The procession takes place three times a day, the most amazing being the night procession, when, lit by torches specially made for the occasion, the show takes on a poetic form, accompanied by the haunting rhythm of the orchestra. Limoux Carnival is one of the most famous in the world, like the carnivals of Rio or Venice.

Caunes-Minervois, a heritage of marble At the heart of the Carcassonne region, the small town of CaunesMinervois nestles around its massive Benedictine Abbey. But the small town contains

remnants of the city walls and a remarkable architectural heritage: narrow streets, beautiful mansions like Sicard Hotel and Alibert Hotel, comprising the most complete example of Renaissance architecture in Aude. Caunes-Minervois gained international renown with its “crimson” marble production, of a reddish-orange colour that was very fashionable in the 18th century and was used to decorate the Grand Trianon in Versailles, the Paris Opera and the Arc de Triomphe in Paris. The old Roy quarry, on the trail of the same name, is worth a visit.

Lastours* and its 4 castles Built on a rocky spur, Cabaret, Tour Régine, Surdespine and Quertineux are the four castles surrounding the medieval village, which in the 12th century formed the stronghold of Cabaret, whose lord defended the cause of the Cathars. After the fall of Minerve and Termes, the Lastours castles were where the survivors took refuge until 1211. The village was abandoned in the middle of the 13th century, but the ruins still stand as sentinels of the past. See also, a flora and fauna trail.

Castelnaudary, gourmet town Granary of Languedoc since the Middle Ages, the Lauragais plain is a real palette of colours: the fields of wheat, corn, sunflower and beans around Castelnaudary add golden hues to this this rich, tranquil area at the foot of the Black Mountains. This is a land of history, and the site of numerous clashes at the time of the Cathars, during the Hundred Years War and later, the civil wars of the Fronde. But Castelnaudary has a certain sweetness of life with the interesting corners of its old town and of course the Canal du Midi and the large 7-hectare port, which makes it such a pleasant stopover point. But Castelnaudary is especially famous, internationally, as the world capital of cassoulet, this dish of Lauragais beans, pork sausage and duck. This delicious, rustic dish is celebrated every year in late August, during the memorable Cassoulet Festival. In 2007, the " Road of the Cassoulet of Castelnaudary” was even created, devoted to heritage and cuisine. * Labelled “Tourisme Sud de France”.



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CanalduMidi: ABoatman’s Paradise


ierre-Paul Riquet’s masterpiece, built in 1666 and 1681 to link the river Garonne to the Mediterranean Sea (hence its initial name: “canal of the two Seas”), hides within its meanders some 328 civil engineering structures: tunnels, locks, spillways*, bridges, etc. The challenge, at that time, was to bring water from the Montagne Noire to Nauouze, the highest point along the route. Pierre-Paul Riquet’s engineering genius gave rise, after 14 years of unremitting work (a vocation for the builder who poured his entire life and fortune into the project), to this route dotted with civil engineering structures that defy the laws of physics and are an ode to beauty. The masterpieces, scattered throughout, parade along the water, and even include a few “architectural follies” such as the round lock in Agde, the Gailhousty spillway on the “canal de la Robine”, or the Malpas tunnel, forging the

connection with Béziers.The Languedoc section, setting off from Castelnaudary, runs through to the Thau Laguna via Marseillette, Homps, and the small port of Colombiers and Portiragnes. After Somail, you may also follow the Narbonne link through the “canal de la Robine”: in an ever wilder setting, lined with umbrella pines. As the canal unrolls its stately pace throughout, the towpaths also afford a picturesque alternative : formerly used by horses, they alternately oblige you to cross to the right bank of the canal or to join the left bank. This is another way of living life along the canal, always busy despite the apparent peace and quiet. All along the way you’ll find villages, wine cellars open for tasting, open air cafés where people gather to enjoy the summer evenings before bedtime. ◗ * Spillway: a structure to drain surplus water from the canal.



• 4 July 1665

Pierre Paul Riquet writes to Colbert, the Controller-General of Finances, to submit his project for the canal.

• 1666

Louis XIV signs the edict authorising construction of the Canal du Midi.

• 1679

Completion of the staircase of locks in Fonsérannes.


• 1st October 1680 • 15 May 1681 Death of Pierre Paul Riquet.

Inauguration of the canal, which was opened to traffic in 1683.

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TO SEE/TO DO Ensérune, to the southwest of Béziers and not far from the canal and Malpas tunnel, is the resting place of ancient remains dating from the 3rd century BC of a hill-town overlooking the plain. This island of land surrounded by pine trees, offers a panoramic view across the dry lake of Montady. Maison du Malpas. Tel. +33 (0)4 67 32 88 77 Along the canal, the hamlet of Somail in the commune of Saint-Nazaired’Aude, features a delightful 17th century architectural ensemble. You can sleep in a room in the old guard house and sample the excellent cuisine at the Comptoir Nature. Le Comptoir Nature. Tel. +33 (0)4 68 46 01 61







• 1764

Start of tree plantation along the canal.

• 1776

Construction of the Canal de la Robine to access Narbonne.

• 1810

Carcassonne is connected to the Canal du Midi.

• 1857

Opening of the Canal Bridge to cross the Orb River in Béziers.


• 1989

End of goods navigation on the canal.

• 1996

UNESCO lists the canal as a World Heritage Site.

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In Languedoc-Roussillon, the unexpected is everywhere : how different is the Vermilion Coast of Collioure from the Camargue of Aigues-Mortes, even though both share the same sweep of land around the Mediterranean. What a contrast between Uzès the elegant and the Carcassonne the Cathar! From Montpellier the impetuous, to Narbonne the Roman, Pézenas of the Languedoc and Alès of the Cévennes, from Agde the langorous to Mende the discreet, Nîmes the Latin to Perpignan the Catalonian, diversity is the key word. So many landscapes, so many atmospheres, so many thousands of subtle fragrances. Languedoc and Roussillon are a marriage of sky and earth, of mountain and sea.


36/53 CITIES





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Banyuls, southernborder of theCôteVermeille


Overlooking a terraced landscape of vineyards, the last beach resort before arriving in Spain is the entrance to the Côte Vermeille.


he fame of the city is based on a triptych blending nature, culture and viticulture. Here begins the Côte Vermeille, a very rocky part of the coast between Cerbère and Collioure where the terraced vineyards lead right down to the sea, baptised with this name in the 19th century because on the first and last rays of the sun, the rocks change colour to almost vermilion. The final beach resort in France, Banyuls has a beautiful sandy beach with pebbles and hosts the Arago

Laboratory, where one of the oldest public aquariums of the Mediterranean displays specimens of the coastal fauna. Banyuls is also the departure point for the underwater trail of the Marine Nature Reserve. On this site 6.5 kilometres long, this reserve, which is the only one of its kind, protects a rocky coast that harbours over 1200 animal species and 500 vegetal species. Banyuls-sur-Mer is also the home town of the sculptor Aristide Maillol (1861-1944), whose works can be admired at the port of Banyuls (Young Girl Reclining) but also at Céret, Elne and Port-Vendres where he created the Monuments to the Dead. The Verny Foundation celebrates the glory of this artist. Banyuls is also known worldwide for its natural sweet wine aged in impressive cellars or in the sun. ◗ SUDDEFRANCE - 24 -

WHAT TO SEE/PORT-VENDRES, A TYPICAL PORT The main fishing port in Roussillon as well as being a commercial port, Port-Vendres is a few kilometres from Collioure and considers itself as rather quieter. The town, remodelled in the 17th century, has many memories of the past. The monuments designed by Vauban witness this splendour. The Obelisk in pink Roussillon marble to the glory of Louis XVI stands imposingly by the port. This is where, from 8am to 10am the local fishermen come to sell their sardines, at the corner of Quai Pierre Forgas.

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Collioure, pearlofRoussillon




In 1905, Matisse and Derain discovered the little fishing port of the Côte Vermeille. Inspired by the beauty of the landscape and the light, that summer they produced drawings, water colours, and oil paintings, in a burst of creativity. Unbound from the artistic constraints current in Paris, giving free rein to colour (Matisse painting the Collioure beach in red), the two painters originated the artistic movement known as Fauvism. Derain made only one visit, but Matisse returned four times to Collioure. Today, a walking tour through the tiny streets of the village follows in the footsteps of the two artists through a series of twenty reproductions of their works, mounted on the very spots where they were painted. Guided tour, the path of Fauvism : Tel. +33 (0)4 68 98 07 16


rom the sea, it is sculpted with coves, giving it the air of a princess. The terraced vineyards surrounding the town mark out the colours of the landscape. Often cited as a typical picture postcard village, Collioure, jewel of the Vermillion coast, can take on the air of a Cretan village, an Italian landscape or a grand Catalan. It was a summer residence of the Kings of Majorca in the 12th century, before passing into the hands of the kings of France: Louis XI and Charles VIII. It was successively under the Crown of the Aragon kingdoms of Majorca and France. It must also be said that in medieval times, Collioure ruled the Mediterranean, as it was the port from which Perpignan fabrics were shipped out by the Catalan navy. Collioure as we know it today, was modelled by the engineer Vauban, who fortified the Royal Castle before the 1659 Treaty of the Pyrenees finally connected Roussillon to France. This period of conquests saw the enlargement of the castle, an imposing building overlooking the bay, while modifications were made to the town, and yet Collioure has kept traces of its medieval past. Keystone of the defence system, the Royal Castle was developed in the 13th and 18th centuries and listed as a historical monument in 1922. Fort St. Elmo, Notre-Dame-des-Anges, whose foundations bathe in the MediterSUDDEFRANCE - 25 -

ranean, and Madeloc Tower all add to the renown of the city.

A veritable muse for painters But Collioure remains incomparably poetic. Firstly, through its history, and the way in which the streets of this harbour town express their link with the arts. Houses bathed in colour invite you to wander and daydream. Collioure inspired the Fauvist painters with its light, its broad palette of colours and multiple profiles. Matisse was the first to be dazzled by the sky and the light of the town, committing to canvas the colours that stood out all around him: blue sky, green shutters, salmon-coloured houses. Collioure is luminous and joyful, singing with cicadas and bathed in heaven. The houses of this ancient Mediterranean trading port are infused with shades of ochre, orange and pink. Suitors vied for its beauty. Derain and Vlaminck, Braque and, of course, Picasso were all ardent lovers of Collioure. The city has kept its charm, surrounded by its coves, its pebble beach, the little port, authentic Catalan boats and streets full of flowers. But don’t be fooled! Collioure is a place where Catalan is spoken, where you fish for sardines and even have siestas. And of course, there’s fishing for anchovies, prepared in the same way for generations. Two

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Etang de Leucate










Etang de Canet






Elne Tech





industries still produce this blue fish that ➥ craft benefits from the protected geographical in-

dication label "Collioure anchovies". And one of them has even set up a drive to order anchovies and their products online! Throughout the town, local restaurants with their festive atmosphere (and some prestigious gourmet addresses) and galleries await the curious visitor. Strolling through the streets is a very relaxing pass time, but for those less keen on walking, a little tourist train offers a lovely ride along the coastal road and even as far as Port-Vendres, further along the coast. ◗

AND ALSO/ARGELÈS, FROM BLUE TO GREEN Nestling at the foot of the Alberes, where the Pyrenees plunge into the Mediterranean, Argelès-sur -Mer with its sixty-odd campsites is the European capital of camping. With 7 miles of sandy coastline from the natural reserve of Mas Larrieu to Racou and 3 km of rocky coastline, not to mention the two kilometres of pinewoods, the resort is very popular in summer. Between the blue of the sky and the green of the sea, with shady streets and the colourful Catalan atmosphere, Argeles has kept its authenticity. It is also within sight of Collioure.



DISCOVER The fort Saint-Elme* The origin of this military fort dates back over 1000 years. Today it hosts a museum dedicated to the Middle Ages and the Renaissance and offers one of the most beautiful panoramic views of the Mediterranean Sea. Route stratégique, 66190 Collioure Tel. +33 (0)6 64 61 82 42

Biodiversarium Discover marine and landbased biodiversity with the family On the programme, discover species by an interactive fish tank which allows you to touch the fish. Avenue de Fontaulé 66650 Banyuls-sur-Mer. Tel. +33 (0)4 68 88 73 39

The Master Glassmakers of Palau del Vidre Artisans who set up their workshops in the Palais de Verre [Glass Palace / Palau del Vidre] have prospered for twenty years in the little village of Palau-del-Vidre. Every August, a festival of glass arts transforms the town into the largest gallery of glass arts in Europe.

Château de l’Esparrou* Invitation to the pleasures of the vine and wine, this château retraces over 100 years of history. Tour the area, have a picnic, taste the wines and send the children on a pony trek. SUDDEFRANCE - 26 -

Route de Saint-Cyprien 66140 Canet-en-Roussillon. Tel. +33 (0)4 68 73 30 93

EAT & REFRESHMENTS “Le Clos de Pins / Host & Vinum” Restaurant* The menu follows the rhythm of the seasons and the local products with a gastronomic cuisine of Mediterranean flavours. 34, av. du Roussillon 66140 Canet-en-Roussillon. Tel. +33 (0)4 68 80 32 63

“La Table de Valmy” Restaurant An annex of the Château Valmy, the Table de Valmy is a restaurant built in 2014 with the assistance of the architectural firm BAU. This large building with a very successful modern decor can accommodate up to 120 persons and offers a terrace with a view of the vineyards and the sea. Quality cuisine to accompany tasting the wines from the estate. Tel. +33 (0)4 68 95 95 25

“Le Chat qui Rit” Restaurant*

This restaurant with Mediterranean flavours offers fresh products in season (often bio) for a tasty cuisine. 1, rte de Céret La Cabanasse de Reynès 66400 Reynès. Tel. +33 (0)4 68 87 02 22

“La Galinette” Restaurant In this contemporary gastronomic restaurant (1 star in the Michelin guide), the chef offers a modern, gourmet cuisine, where the real taste of products reigns. 23, rue Jean-Payra 66000 Perpignan. Tel. +33 (0)4 68 35 00 90

ACCOMMODATION Château de Rey* Three hostels with 6 to 9 beds are offered in the heart of a vineyard and just two steps away from the sea: the opportunity to spend a real southern holiday with family or friends. Route de Saint-Nazaire, 66140 Canet-en-Roussillon. Tel. +33 (0)4 68 73 86 27

Hôtel Princes de Catalogne* In the centre of Collioure in a pleasant setting, just 100 meters away from the port and the Château Royal, this 3-star hotel combines comfort with modernity. Rue des Palmiers 66190 Collioure. Tel. +33 (0)4 68 98 30 00

* Labelled “Tourisme Sud de France”.




Paulilles, a unique bay A vast bay resting at the foot of the Albères mountains, at the entrance of Port-Vendres, the cove of Paulilles is all by itself the symbol of the wild beauty of the Côte Vermeille. Nestled between Cape Béar and Cape Oullestrell, the Bay of Paulilles harbours three beaches – which are supervised during the summer – dominated by rocks of shale in the middle of the rich Mediterranean vegetation. This peaceful place was for a century home to… a dynamite factory! Open to the public since 2008, the site was rehabilitated and transformed into a place of remembrance, a witness of the labour history of Paulilles. A workshop for the restoration of Catalan boats was also created. One of the other beaches of Paulilles hosts a restaurant with a unique evening atmosphere and a magnificent coastal road that allows for beautiful strolls between the sea and the mountains, towards Banyuls or PortVendres. Maison du site de Paulilles : Tel. +33 (0)4 68 95 23 40

Elne, oldest city of Roussillon Protected by its ramparts, Elne is the oldest city of Roussillon and was once even more important than Perpignan. Traces of this golden age include the imposing Sainte-Eulalieet-Sainte-Julie Cathedral dating back to the 11th century and known for its beautiful cloister with historiated capitals. A History Museum traces the unusual fate of this small town through archives and documents. From here, you can enjoy the beautiful view of the hills covered with fruit trees..

The organ* pipes of Ille sur Têt

The “organ pipes” create a striking scene in the plain where cherry, apricot and peach trees abound. On the outskirts of the village, there is a mineral amphitheatre of sedentary rocks made of sand and clay and over 4 million years old, forming this field of "fairy chimneys" like the pipes of a magical organ, crowned with a conglomerate of pebbles. A deeply poetic place, with Canigou in the background, it is magical at dusk. Guided tours of the site.

Thuir, town of stills Capital of the Aspres massif, the medieval city of Thuir is the birthplace of the famous aperitif "Byrrh" which made its reputation. For over 140 years, this drink made from wine flavoured with orange peel, cinnamon and coffee was widely consumed in the twentieth century. The industrial facilities designed by Eiffel still remain, including the largest tank in the world, 12m in diameter and 10 high. Byrrh continues to be produced here and the winery has recently started producing absinthe..

Céret, capital of modern art Famous for its cherries, the capital of Vallespir is also a mecca for modern art, whose history is closely linked to the major artistic movements of the twentieth century. Déodat Séverac, Pablo Picasso, Georges Braque, Max Jacob, Chaim Soutine, Marc Chagall, to name only the best known, all stayed in Céret, which is depicted in their works. Contemporary art exhibitions have been held in the village for nearly half a century and since 1993 the city has a remarkable museum of modern art rich in works by Matisse, Dufy, Chagall, Masson and a series of Picasso ceramics. A sign of the vitality of this town, which is also the main centre of Catalan culture and folklore where the Sardana is celebrated each year.

* Labelled “Tourisme Sud de France”. SUDDEFRANCE - 27 -


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LaClape,adoubly surprising terroir The Clape massif between Narbonne and the sea attracts lovers of unspoilt nature... and good wine, this being the home of one of the most sought after wines in the region.


his small range of hills (17 km long and 7 km wide) is an extension of the Corbières. Its white cliffs plunge into the sea and the lagoons (Pisse-Vache, Ayrolle, Bages - Sigean), and it was once an island. In the 14th century the Aude River flooded, changing the layout of the land: the Roman Insula Laci became La Clape, “clapas” in Occitan meaning a "pile of stones", cherished by the people of Narbonne, Gruissan and many others. Especially the winemakers, who settled part of the 13,500 hectare limestone site. There have been vines here for more than 2000 years. An exceptional terroir, this lagoon complex on the edge of the Mediterranean, between wetlands and the dry scrubland of

the garrigue, is carefully tended by the growers who produce these prize-winning wines. The National Agricultural Research Institute has even set up an experimental vineyard station here. In the midst of garrigue flanked by a forest of Aleppo pines, this site, classified since 1973, is a haven for picnickers, bikers and climbers. Walking or riding through these hills amid scents of thyme, wild fennel and broom is a sumptuous experience! Moreover, it has been included in the Regional Natural Park of Narbonne. And it has recently been awarded the national label "Vineyards and discoveries". South of the area, in the town of Port-la-Nouvelle, the island of St. Lucie stretches between the lagoons of Ayrolle and Bages–Sigean, rimmed with ancient salt mines. 250 hectares of this area between sea and lagoons is only accessible on foot or by bicycle, via Port-la-Nouvelle along the Canal de la Robine. Migratory birds and deer have made the island their haven. During the summer season, a team is there to welcome tourists and inform them about the flora and fauna of this paradise, listed as a regional nature reserve since 2009. ◗ SUDDEFRANCE - 28 -


Between the land and the sea, Leucate and Gruissan have remained in the middle of an exceptional marine environment. The oyster farming and the tramontana winds make this a renowned area for water sports such as kitesurfing and wind-surfing in Leucate (together with Leucate-Plage, La Franqui and Port-Leucate). Not to mention the salt pans recently resurrected at Gruissan, a charming circular village around a hilly zone crowned with a fortified castle. Protected and preserved areas, these two cities are also renowned for the beauty of their fine sandy beaches:

TO SEE/NARBONNE NATURAL PARK With its 80,000 hectares, the area covered by the Regional Natural Park of Narbonne is one of the last preserved natural sites of this size and diversity. Here, “Spiked Magician” crickets and “Southern Festoon” butterflies are pampered, but so are the foxes, hares, badgers and wild boar that feed on the vegetation of the garrigue in the Clape massif, which blooms from mid-May to July. The environment, covering wetlands and dry garrigue has benefitted from protection and classification since 2003.

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A city famed for its festivals and beaches, Agde is also rich in more than 2,500 years of history.



ymbol of his town, he has been in his birthday suit since… the 4th century BC ! The “princely posterior” of the Ephebe of Agde (Hérault), a bronze statue discovered in 1964 in the Grau d’Agde, has been on display since his return to his hometown in 1986 (after over 20 years at the Louvre). While the original is conserved in the purpose-built Ephebe Museum, the replica certainly turns the heads of motorists negotiating the roundabout each day on the

TO SEE/ANCIENT TREASURES The Ephebe of Agde, an ancient bronze statue discovered in 1964 in Grau-d’Agde, has returned to the region to display his 'princely posterior'. (For over twenty years he was exhibited at the Louvre.) The only major Grecian bronze discovered in France, he is housed in the specially-constructed Musée de L’Éphèbe, which also features Roman bronzes and various archeological objects recovered from the ocean. A copy of the statue turns motorists' heads in the centre of the traffic circle near the southern motorway. Musée de l’Ephèbe*. Tel. 00 33 (0)4 67 94 69 60

* Labelled “Tourisme Sud de France”.


Agde,land ofhospitality southern ring road. Of such paradoxes is Agde made. Once known as the “black pearl of the Mediterranean” because of its basalt stone monuments, the city built on the remains of an ancient volcano overlooked by Mt SaintLoup has a volcanic temperament! A port city since Antiquity (it was founded in the 6th century BC), Agde has set its sights since the 70s’ and 80’s on being a seaside destination, with the construction of the resort at Cap d’Agde. Today the heliotourist centre, a 100% nudist area resort, makes this the world’s biggest nudist site in terms of numbers accommodated, with nudism the norm in the nudist village and on the “private” beaches. But this only one side of Agde, which abounds in important heritage: the city and SUDDEFRANCE - 29 -

its ramparts, among the oldest in France, the Cathedral of St Stephen, the Ephebe museum or the rounded lock of Agde on the Canal du Midi are all popular attractions. And then there are the fine sandy beaches, a high summer paradise for the “Textiles” (as those uninitiated in the delights of nudism are called). Gently sloping and ideal for bathing, they stretch for 14 km east to west: Richelieu beach, Môle and Rochelongue beach, the shell-covered beach and La Conque beach with its black sands. At the tip of the cape, Brescou Islet, a basalt promontory topped by an eponymous fortress, is a favourite haunt for scuba divers. Meanwhile, up on the surface, water sports enthusiasts can choose between boarding, kite surfing and sailing. ◗

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Sète, thelittleVenice

ofLanguedoc Located between Thau Lake and the deep blue sea, Sète (Hérault) enjoys a distinctive and colourful cultural identity.


ette” was for a long time the name of this city; it is thought that the shape of Mont Saint-Clair above suggested a whale (cetus in Latin, evolving to “ceta”) to Roman sailors. However dim the origins of the city’s name, we do know that this mount was a guiding landmark for navigators – and a refuge for pirates! It was only in the 18th century that “baraquettes” began to be built on its slopes. Families came to spend their Sunday afternoons in these little dry stone houses. Sète owes its official beginning in 1666 to three historical figures: Paul Riquet, Louis XIV, and the Chevalier de Clerville. The first was seeking an opening on the Mediterranean for the Canal du Midi, the second a port for exporting the products of Languedoc, and the last identified the Cap de Sète as the most suitable location. So the port was created. The Saint-Louis breakwater protecting the entrance of the old port has

sheltered ships and boats since then. A picturesque and colourful city, Sète has two types of inhabitants. The denizens of PointeCourte, the lively lake-fishers’ neighborhood, are known in the local slang as pointus (‘pointies’). Little boats jostle trawlers along the quais, where the water-jousts are staged. When the sailors disembark, talk is loud and free and the air has a tang of saltwater. Then there are those who make their homes in the more residential hillside neighbourhoods, where you might find mansions with sumptuous Mediterranean views or the more modest houses of “Little Naples” on the heights, where many families have roots in southern Italy. When the wine business was at its height, Sète was the world's largest coopers' port and a flourishing city. The busy port, the heart of the city, animated everything. The hawkers in the fish markets and the to-andfro of trawlers are still the stuff of daily life in Sète, even if ships are fewer than they once were. Happily, after some difficult years, Sète is once again the premier port for tunafishing, now ultra-regulated. Sète is also an almost uninterrupted shore all the way to Marseillan-Plage: its twelve kilometres of beaches have been refurbished in the last few years. Four free parking lots have been built, as well as an inviting promenade leading out of Sète, along which in the summer beach installations and restaurant-shacks tempt holiday visitors. ◗ SUDDEFRANCE - 30 -



Between sea and garrigue, with the Mediterranean to the south and the Via Domitia to the north, the Etang de Thau has cultivated its particularity over the centuries, as this is where oyster-farming has been practised since Antiquity. Set between vineyards and stretches of lagoon, the villages of Bouzigues, Balaruc, Mèze and Frontignan typify the gentle Mediterranean way of life. Whether visiting prehistoric sites (dinosaur park and museum), Gallo-Roman sites (Villa Loupian), the villages with their succession of summer fetes, tasting shellfish directly from the producers or in the many restaurants around the lagoon, the experience is one of sheer pleasure.

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Made famous by the artist Dubout, the little city of Palavas-les-Flots possesses an inimitable charm.


ess than 10 km to the southof the region’s capital, Palavas (Hérault) has always been Montpellier’s summer destination. Tucked between the sea and a lake, surrounded by lush natural landscape and exceptional flora, for some this town on the Gulf of Lion represents an over-popular resort to be avoided, while for others it is a Mecca of fun and relaxation. It was artist Albert Dubout who popularised the image of this spa area with his drawings of the crowded and slightly madcap beaches back when paid holidays began. He was also partial to the little train that ran till 1968, shuttling between Palavas and Montpellier and bringing crowds of city dwellers for a dip or to unwind for an after-

noon or weekend in the casino. Camping, the symbol of cut-price holidaymaking, was for a long time another symbol of Palavas. In the 1970s, singer Marc Charlan even mocked the town’s charms with his lyric “Je me casse à Palavas” (I’m buggering off to Palavas). But this former fishing village has other charms aplenty, starting with its 7 kilometres of gently sloping beaches, ideal for families with kids. The village has a fair number of restaurants around the canal popular with summer strollers, and straw huts where visitors can enjoy sea food with their feet trailing in the water. The visual symbol of the town, the old water tower built in the 1940s, has been renovated with a revolving restaurant on top, offering an exceptional panoramic view over the coast. Palavas, soon to be accessible from Montpellier by cycle track, is the only deep-water yachting port in the Mediterranean and can accommodate over a thousand boats. ◗

THINGS TO DO/MONTPELLIER’S BEACH Until the late 60s, the citizens of Montpellier used to take the little Palavas train to get to the coast about ten miles away. Today, tramline 3 goes to the Etang d’Or in Pérols, just 2.5 km from Carnon and Palavas. In summer, shuttle buses are laid on to link up with the coast. A cheap bike-hire service is also

available from Montpellier. As for cars, parking space is provided on the Petit and Grand Travers. But this is the last year for car parking, as, in the effort to protect the coastline, from 2015 onwards the road will be set back and vehicles will have to be left in relief car parks before reaching the beach.


TO SEE/VILLENEUVELÈS-MAGUELONE The site of the former cathedral of Saint-Pierreet-Saint-Paul de Maquelone, on its vine-clustered island between lakes and sea, is a source of eternal fascination. This Roman edifice just outside Palavas was the seat of a bishopric from the High Middle Ages onward, even before the establishment of the city of Montpellier, ten kilometers away. Left to decay between the 16th and the 19th centuries, this fortified church is today a favoured stroll for Montpellier residents. It may be approached either by the shore (note that the road is closed to cars in summer) or by the enchanting village of Villeneuve, a repository of all the charm of Languedoc. The site, now occupied by the association ‘Les Compagnons de Maguelone’, which manages a work and social services centre there, features a shop with the association’s products (wine, honey, etc.) and a delightfully unexpected little restaurant.A festival of early music is held there every year in June. Tel. +33 (0)4 67 50 63 63

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Between tradition and modernity, Grau-du-Roi is a synthesis of the spirit of the South: from the boats of the lagoon fishermen to the wild nights on the beaches, there is a whole world that lives together in harmony.


n the middle of the water, Grau-du-Roi bathes in a family atmosphere. Around the old channel that provides a passage (the “grau”) from the sea to AiguesMortes, this fortified city has forged a double identity for itself: its beach resorts (it has the largest pleasure boat marina of Europe, initiated in 1968 in the framework of the “Mission Racine”, a French government plan to develop tourism infrastructures on the coast of LanguedocRoussillon) and its working classes. This location, founded by Italian immigrants in the 19th century, diversified over time with the arrival of communities of fishermen and farmers flowing in from the entire region. On the right bank are the stately homes that remind us of the beginnings of the seaside

resorts and the fishing port. Second port of the French Mediterranean, the port of Grau harbours 17 trawlers which go out every day to fish for whiting, sea bream, mackerel, monkfish and sardines. This port also hosts the small fishing trades, notably the lagoon fishermen and the “tellinaïres”, who gather the tellins, small and very tasty wedge clams. In the summer, the canal lives to the rhythm of the Languedoc water jousting, a spectacular show and a real institution. However, the life of Grau also extends to the left bank, beyond the city-centre, to the district of the Palais de la Mer and the renowned Seaquarium followed by Port-Camargue. This is the key resort town of southern France with its 2,240 marinas and 4,900 docks. And it is the place of infinite pleasures, under the sun, in the middle of businesses and restaurants, or on the fine sand of the 17 km of beaches, including the celebrated Espiguette renowned for its width (700 meters) and its length, which has made it a protected site of white dunes rolling along the sea coast. A singular setting, where fully-equipped beaches (taken down during the off-season) allow you to sunbathe with your feet in the water! ◗ SUDDEFRANCE - 32 -


TO SEE/LA GRANDE-MOTTE Today a seaside city labelled “20th Century Heritage”, La Grande-Motte was still vineyards and asparagus and a renowned paradise for mosquitoes that bred in the many swamps, just 50 years ago! It was to stop the long migration of the French to the Spanish coasts that, in the sixties, the French Government decided to develop 200 kilometres of the Languedoc-Roussillon coast. This vast plan was reflected in the construction of five seaside resorts, including La Grande-Motte, designed to be a “holiday town”. By associating Inca pyramids with the logic of curves and by integrating sculpture into public buildings, the architect of the resort, Jean Balladur, gave a plastic identity to this new city which has preserved a verdant environment, because green areas occupy two-thirds of the public areas. The city has many high-range reception and leisure facilities such as a marina, a golf course, a thalassotherapy centre and gastronomic restaurants while 7 kilometres of beaches surround the city, equipped with open-air beach restaurants. The marina, which currently has 1,500 berths, will soon be able to harbour 2,100 pleasure boats.

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Twixt salt and sea, the oldest salt marsh in the Mediterranean stretches out beneath AiguesMortes, forming part of the town’s economic landscape - the town’s role as a provider of salt stretches back to Antiquity. Four hundred years ago, the 15 or so existing small salt marshes were united at the initiative of a Montpellier merchant, creating the Mediterranean Salt Marsh company. The very location of the salt marshes is a reminder that the Camargue is France’s most important salt production centre. Environmentally friendly ahead of its time, the company worked in a protected natural environment deep in the Camargue, drawing its energy from the surrounding elements. In summer, the unrefined salt gives the marshes a pinkish hue.The salt culture plays a part in keeping the region humid and rich in biodiversity. The site can be visited in a miniature train, or by 4x4.

Salins du Midi, Aigues-Mortes. Tel. +33 (0)4 66 73 40 23 * Labelled “Tourisme Sud de France”.

Aigues-Mortes, thefortresscity Built by Saint Louis, the mediaeval city “of the dead waters” still stands.


n the beginning, in the 13th century, Aigues-Mortes was chosen by Louis IX, who would become Saint Louis, as a Mediterranean embarcation port. When Provence belonged to the Holy Roman Empire and Roussillon to the Kingdom of Aragon, it was exchanged for the territory of Sommières. The city of the dead waters, then located on the bank of a great lagoon, was linked to the sea by inlets and the westernmost branch of the Rhône by immense marshlands. Louis IX had a road built, protected by dikes, the only land access to AiguesMortes, later defended by the Tour Carbonnière. He embarked there for his seventh crusade in 1248, then made a final embarcation SUDDEFRANCE - 33 -

from Aigues-Mortes in 1270, the eight crusade, a little before his death. But AiguesMortes would become a trading centre of the first order with the countries of the Levant. The sainted king had the Tour de Constance built there – for a long time the city’s only defense – in order to protect the port and the town. In this royal tower were imprisoned, during the Wars of Religion, many Protestants from Nîmes, among them the leader of the Camisards, Abraham Mazel, who managed to escape in 1705, as well as many women, including Marie Durand, who refused to abjure her faith and was held there for thirty-eight years. Wandering through the city’s art galleries is a pleasure for the eyes – and its many talented cooks make Aigues-Mortes a pleasure for the palate as well. ◗

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Medieval atmosphere at the Château d’Aujac


The discreet charm of Barjac A little borough on a replat (stop in climb) at an altitude of 170 meters, located between Cèze and Ardèche, Barjac is on the boundary of the fortresses of Cévennes. This pretty, peaceful village is renowned for its bio fair held on the last weekend of July and it is also the departure point for wonderful hiking trails, notably to discover the megaliths near Orgnac, not to mention the potholes such as those at Aven d’Orgnac (listed as a “Grand Site de France”) and the cave of Aven de la Forestière. Tel. +33 (0)4 66 24 53 44

Admire the concretions of the Grotte de la Salamandre*

It was in 1965 that a team of potholers from Nîmes ventured for the first time into this cavern in Gard. They baptised it the “Cave of the Salamander” referring to the little amphibian they found there on their arrival. However, it was only in 2013 that the area was opened to the public. Today listed as a French heritage site, the Salamander Cave is also one of the first caves to be made accessible to people with reduced mobility. An ecoresponsible site, it has an area for relaxation and a restaurant and offers activities such as rappelling to discover the cave in a different way (for visitors aged 12 and up)! Tel. +33 (0)9 88 18 28 34 Méjannes-le-Clap

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Perched at an altitude of 600 meters in the centre of the upper valley of the River Cèze, the Château du Cheylard d’Aujac illustrates the evolution of castle design in France from the Middle Ages to the Renaissance. Within the 12th century ramparts is the little medieval village that has been entirely restored. During the summer, it hosts various activities (exhibitions or film screenings) and even includes a medieval boutique. Château d’Aujac. Tel. +33 (0)4 66 61 19 94



The dazzling decor of the Concluses de Lussan Dominated by high cliffs, the Concluses de Lussan promises a wondrous sight for lovers of beautiful landscapes, which are accessible only on foot in the summer, when the bed of the Aiguillon stream is dry. To get to this site, be prepared to take a 30-minute hike. Appropriate footwear should also be brought along so that children and adults can take full advantage of this adventure in the wild.

In a canoe between Montclus and Goudargues Go out to explore the gorges of the River Cèze on a 13-kilometre trail or a threehour hike from Montclus (photo) to Goudargues. This is the opportunity to fully appreciate the wild beaches as well as the fauna and flora of the surrounding area. It is also possible to plan a little swim or a picnic on firmer ground. Have a pleasant time with the family, where sturdy walking shoes and sun creams are highly recommended. Cèze Canoë, Goudargues. Tel. +33 (0)4 66 82 37 88

The peaceful beauty of Cèze A charming little village of Gard, La Roque-sur-Cèze was built on a rocky peak overlooking the River Cèze. It is in this medieval village that the Charles Martel Bridge reigns, the construction of which SUDDEFRANCE - 34 -

dates back to around the 12th century. This hamlet is nestled in the limestone rocks that are five million years old. This is the opportunity to discover the Cascades du Sautadet, a series of waterfalls and rapids formed by the erosive action of the river on solid limestone bedrock. A magnificent landscape in a restful, but potentially dangerous setting: swimming is strictly forbidden. Tel. +33 (0)4 66 82 77 46

Sacred Art at Pont-Saint-Esprit At 919 meter long, the 26 arches of the 14th century Saint-Esprit Bridge crosses the River Rhône linking the village of Pont-Saint-Esprit to Lamotte-du-Rhône. Recognized as one of the oldest of all the bridges that cross the River Rhône linking Provence to Languedoc, it is the very symbol of the “Spiripontains” (as the inhabitants of Pont-Saint-Esprit are called). This emblematic structure of PontSaint-Esprit is not their only treasure: you can also discover the old citadel and the college, the great wash house and the Sacred Art Museum. Lastly, only 10 km away is Saint-Paulet-de-Caisson, with the splendid site of Chartreuse de Valbonne. Tel. +33 (0)4 66 90 34 00 * Labelled “Tourisme Sud de France”.

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In the charming little village of Verfeuil, Anne and Jacky offer you a restful, well-being holiday in the heart of the Cèze Valley, in a “bastide” fortified town full of character, a sublime guest house with rural chic. With three rooms each with its own bathroom, they have been tastefully decorated in a modern style. The house opens out onto a large terrace and a swimming pool that is hidden from public view. La Posterle, Verfeuil. Tel. +33 (0)4 66 72 99 57

Le Clos d’Hullias In Provence in the Department of Gard, the Clos d’Hullias is a little haven of peace. In the middle of the natural countryside, among the vineyards, lavender and olive trees, the site has 3 holiday homes the smallest of which can accommodate 4 to 7 guests while the largest can accommodate 10 to 12 guests. Far from the urban tumult, a moment of relaxation is guaranteed in an unusual setting. Chemin d’Hullias, Saint-Christol-de-Rodières. Tel. +33 (0)4 66 72 99 57 -

Le Mas d’Orsan In a pleasant setting, the Mas d’Orsan offers hostels and guest rooms. This is also the opportunity to share a pleasant interlude in a place dedicated to well-being and relaxation. Beautiful swimming pool awaits you. Tel. +33 (0)6 14 72 06 99

WINE-TASTING The Vineyards of Tavel* It is a prerequisite to visit this temple of French rosé wine, the first rosé wine in France that was awarded a controlled designation of origin (AOC) in 1936. The following year in 1937, the Vintner’s Cellar of Tavel was founded. After being awarded the label “20th Century Heritage”, the site was listed as a Historical Monument in 2013. It is today possible to visit the site (on reservation, for groups of about 10 people) and to taste the wine (every day of the week and free of charge) from different vats. A playground has been arranged on-site for children. Route de Tavel. Tel. +33 (0)4 66 50 03 57

GASTRONOMY La Table de Marine In the heart of the little village of the Cèze Valley, La Table de Marine offers a modern and refined cuisine. On the menu: products from the region and according to the season for original combinations. This is a nice little restaurant with a rustic, authentic atmosphere, where it is even possible to take cooking lessons if you book ahead. Place Jean-Jaurès, Saint-Michel-d’Euzet Tel. +33 (0)4 66 33 13 89 * Labelled “Tourisme Sud de France”. SUDDEFRANCE - 35 -

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Perpignan,capital ofFrenchCatalonia The heart of Perpignan beats to the Catalan rythm. The last major town before the Spanish border is now a privileged gateway between Barcelona and France.

TO SEE/CANET-EN-ROUSSILLON Perpignan’s own seaside resort (only ten kilometres separate them), Canet-en-Roussillon has an ancient town centre with winding little streets and a castle. By the sea, a three-kilometre beach promenade offers all the pleasures of the shore. The Étang de Canet Saint-Nazaire, home of diverse wildlife, is also known for its reed fishermen’s huts, today used for stocking fishing equipment. Guided tours are offered by the Tourist Office.


he assets of this town at the foot of the Pyrenees and a few kilometres from the sea: a mix of cultures and peoples that make up its wealth, its Mediterranean look and the beauty of the Pyrenean mountains surrounding it. A long-time defender of the Spanish cause, it was indeed under the kingdom of Majorca that Perpignan was in its prime, as the mainland capital of the kingdom. The main monuments of the town testify to this: the kings of Majorca reigned from 1276 to 1344, leaving a Gothic style of architecture behind them, a palace, a cathedral... The Palace of the Kings of Majorca is one SUDDEFRANCE - 36 -

such symbolic monument. Building began under the direction of King James II of Majorca and was completed in 1309 after his death. Palace and fortress, the building was a seat of political power, a royal residence and a chapel. The Palace in the Gothic style also has a luxuriant garden within its walls. From here, the visitor overlooks the plain of Roussillon. The kingdom of Majorca also marked the birth of another important local heritage monument: the Cathedral of St John the Baptist, which stands in rue de l'Horloge. The work began under the reign of these kings in 1324. Its base is in the Gothic style and the initial plans called for three naves to be built. In 1344, the progress of the

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THE CASTILLET. work was greatly hindered by the fratricidal war against the kings of Aragon and the plague that was to ravage the country. Over the years, the plans were altered. Finally there was to be only one large nave flanked by chapels and a funeral cloister, the Campo Santo, which is unique in France. The first Mass was celebrated there in 1509. The Town Hall, built in the early fourteenth century with its pebble facade is also typical of the Roussillon architecture. The other emblem of the city is the Castillet. It was designed in 1368, under the authority of the kings of Aragon. In the early twentieth century, the fortifications surrounding the city were demolished to open up the centre, but the Castillet was saved in extremis. Today it houses the Museum of Popular Arts and Traditions of Roussillon and the iconic flame of Saint-Jean, which is rekindled each year. A southern city, Per-

pignan, with its winding streets, medieval charm and palm trees in the squares, offers a relaxed and hospitable lifestyle. The people here are proud of the city and its rugby team: the USAP! But a new emblem is emerging: the brand new Théâtre de l’Archipel, a vast ensemble of rooms designed by the famous architect Jean Nouvel. This new symbol (see page 42) reflects a city whose dynamism is also expressed by its intense cultural life, as in the famous procession of San Jordi in April, the “Perpignan on stage” festival in July, and of course “Visa pour l'image” in September, the renowned photojournalism festival. Assets that combine to establish the international reputation of the city, now directly connected to Barcelona by high-speed train. ◗ SUDDEFRANCE - 37 -

TO SEE/ GIANT SUNDIAL It was in last November that the 35 MT work was hoisted up to complete the construction of the largest sundial in Europe. This creation, baptised “Solart 2”, is the work of the artist MA2F – Marc-André de Figuères – who has already met a number of artistic challenges in the Eastern Pyrenees, at Perpignan, Collioure and Sorède. Erected at Rivesaltes, at the centre of the roundabout at the northern entrance to the Metropolitan area of Perpignan Méditerranée, this giant solar sundial indicates the time according to the sun by the projection of a shadow on the perimeter of the roundabout which was transformed into a disk marked off in hours and half-hours in order to read the time, adapted to the circular shape of the site. Culminating at 21 meters and composed of a metal structure perforated with figures which are projected by the sun’s rays from the dial, the work was built by specialists of metalwork, of reinforced concrete (so that the mast will hold its place in spite of its incline) and of astronomy because it was necessary to set the dial correctly so that it can show the time. If you cannot get to the foot of the sundial, you can always stop after the roundabout to admire this very atypical creation.

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TO SEE/FONFTROIDE ABBEY Founded at the end of the eleventh century by Benedictine monks, Fontfroide Abbey became Cistercian in 1145. Its aura quickly spread beyond the boundaries of Aude to become one of the most important Cistercian abbeys of Christendom. It served as a bastion of Catholic orthodoxy in a country that was receptive to the ideas of the Cathars. It produced wine and raised cattle. After the French Revolution it gradually lost its splendour, and in 1901, the last monks left the abbey. The fact that it is so well preserved is largely thanks to the Fayet family, who bought the abandoned abbey in 1908. In contrast to the monastic life that had existed a few years earlier, Fayet made the abbey a place of culture, frequented by several artists including the painter Odilon Redon (who painted two frescoes in the abbey), the sculptor Aristide Maillol and the composer Maurice Ravel... Tel. +33 (0)4 68 45 50 71

Narbonne,eternal In Gallo-Roman antiquity, its name was Narbo Martius. It was the first Roman city in Gaul and preserves many vestiges of its past.


he reputation of Narbonne (Aude) as a “City of Art and History” is due in no small measure to its strong Roman identity. It was in fact the first Roman city in Gaul, prior even to the conquest of Julius Caesar. Founded in 118 BCE, Narbonne’s geographical location made it a veritable crossroads on the Mediterranean coast. Narbo Martius made extensive use of the Roman-built port, as well as the Via Domiziana, created at the city’s foundation, to link Italy with Spain. This road was originally planned to facilitate SUDDEFRANCE - 38 -

traffic between Roman garrisons, but traders soon made it their own and Narbonne became an obligatory stopping-off point. Following the conquest of the Gauls, the town experienced a considerable economic boom, with a flourishing wine, wheat and ceramic industry. In front of the town hall, admire the paved stretch of the Via Domiziana as it looked in 100 BCE. The route led into the heart of the city via today’s rue de Lattre, crossing place Bistan, the former Roman Forum, before joining the Pont des Marchands above the Robine canal.

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crossroad In Narbonne, it is said that the soil still hides many ancient treasures. Even if most of the Roman monuments have been destroyed, some museums and excavation sites preserve the memory of Narbo Martius. To better showcase this rich heritéage, a project has just been launched for a Regional Museum of Ancient Narbonne, which will be home to over 15,000 pieces including sculptures, mosaics, murals, and stonework. The design of the museum, which will open in 2016, has been entrusted to the celebrated English architect Norman Foster. But the history of Narbonne, which was an Arab province for a few decades in the 8th century, is rich also with its mediaeval past as a centre both spiritual – as symbolised by the imposing Cathédrale Saint-Just et Saint-

Pasteur – and commercial, as well as its Occitan strain. Narbonne, however, does not rest on its historic laurels. Its art of living invites you to enjoy today. The Baltard-style glass and cast iron market halls are the heart of the old city, and bustle with life against the background of the rich mediaeval past. With its varied natural attractions (Massif de la Clape, Massif de Fontfroide), its location amongst celebrated vineyards where wine tourism is booming, particularly with the Tourist Office’s “wine safaris”, Narbonne in summer leads a double life, adding to the attractions of the city Narbonne-Plage’s five kilometres of fine sand, a holidaymaker’s dream. ◗ SUDDEFRANCE - 39 -

TO SEE/ PONT DES MARCHANDS Crossing the Canal de la Robine on the Via Domitia track since it was built in the Roman era, the Vetus Bridge as it was then called, originally had 7 arches. It was reinforced during the Middle Ages and colonized by merchants who set up their shops on it. Only one arch remains to be seen of this ancient structure, but it still supports a narrow commercial street which links two districts of the city, which date back to the 14th and 15th centuries. The Bridge of Merchants as it was called from then on, is one of the last inhabited bridges of France.

TO SEE/MINERVE, FATAL BEAUTY The city, hard against the Cévennes foothills of the Black Mountain, once thought itself impregnable. « No Château, except for Termes and Cabaret, was stronger than Minerve » said a chronicler at the time of the drama. The Perfect Ones, the name given to the Cathars, who followed rules based on notions of Good and Evil stricter than those of the Church, which considered the movement a heresy to be stamped out, were nevertheless trapped by Simon de Montfort in 1210. Weakened by thirst and illness, Guillaume, the Lord of Minerve, capitulated after a seven-week siege. In this wild landscape, the Perfect Ones refused to renounce their faith and were thus sent to the bonfire, the first mass pyre in the war against the Albigensians. The town retains its graceful vaults and natural bridges hewn in limestone, as grandiose as the town’s history is sombre. The generous city gave its name to the Minervois, the land of wine growers. It is also to a couple of winegrowers that we owe the existence of the Hurepel museum in the village of Minerva, which tells the story of the tragic episode of the Occitan Cathars through a series of clay figures. A walk through the narrow streets of this village haunted by memories takes you past enclosures, fortified gates, posterns, cobbled streets, towers and the remains of the Château. The sober and pure décor of the church of St Etienne, the house of the Knights Templar, the martyrs’ monument and the dove of light hewn in the rock by local artist Jean-Luc Séverac never fail to enchant passers-by.

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Thisisaregionofdesign andarchitecturalaudacity Between typical villages looking towards the future and urban centres that combine the past, present and future, Languedoc-Roussillon has chosen to be resolutely modern.



or several decades, renowned architects have placed their signatures on the region’s great cities. It was several decades ago that the celebrated plastic artist Victor Vasarely designed the entrance gates of the University Paul-Valéry at Montpellier. The Catalonian architect Ricardo Bofill then remodelled the District of Antigone, also in Montpellier – to lend it a neo-classical touch and Claude Vasconi sheathed the Palais des Congrès (aka the Corum) with plaques of pink granite. The designer Christian Lacroix gave the appearance of friendly monsters to the cars on one of the tramlines of the regional capital.

All the great names are sought after In Nîmes, Norman Foster clothed the Carré d’Art in glass and steel twenty years ago. The designer Philippe Starck, for his part, during the nineties featured the coat of arms of the city (the palm tree and the crocodile) on au-

dacious urban furniture and designed the building “Le nuage by Starck”, at Montpellier in the District of Port-Marianne. As for Jean Nouvel, his Nemausus building in Nîmes resembles an ocean liner and the celebrated architect also signed the plans for the new City hall in Montpellier as well as the showroom of the new temple of contemporary design of the city located not far from the City Hall. At Perpignan, the Archipel Cultural Centre was also designed by him. In the regional capital, the Anglo-Iranian architect Zaha Hadid signed “PierreVives” (“Living Stones”), the new building housing the departmental archives. As for Massimiliano Fukas, he designed the Georges-Frêche School of Hotel Management, also in Montpellier. In Lozère, Jean-Michel Wilmotte built the Thermal Centre of La Chaldette after redesigning the old Market Hall of Nîmes. Rudy Ricciotti successively built the superb walkway, the Passerelle des Anges at SaintGuilhem-le-Désert, the brand new Bridge of the Republic inaugurated at the beginning of 2014 in Montpellier and finalised the Memorial of the WWII Camp de Rivesaltes in the Eastern Pyrenees. Anne Gaubert and François Moget, for their part, designed the Museum of Contemporary Art in Sérignan around the sculptures of Daniel Buren (who also worked on the renovation of the entrance to the Fabre Museum in Montpellier). In Languedoc-Roussillon, the great signatures of contemporary architecture provide a feast for the eyes. SUDDEFRANCE - 41 -

Projects that are always quite extraordinary

And that’s not all, because there are many more large-scale building projects! In Narbonne, the celebrated architect Norman Foster has just signed the design for the future regional museum of ancient Narbonne, due to open in two years. In Montpellier, the regional capital launched an ambitious policy to design architectural “Folies” of the 21st century, as an echo of the little “folies” built in the 18th and 19th centuries by wealthy residents of Montpellier. After the 11-storey tower of Farshid Moussavi at Port-Marianne, comes the “White Tree” by the Japanese architect Sou Fujimoto who has just been named the winner for the 17-storey Folie Richter. These first two architectural units are planned for 2016-2017. In June 2015, the Festival des Architectures Vives returns: the courtyards of the private mansions of Montpellier are on display and highlighted by the work of a new generation of young architects, landscape artists and city planners. However, Languedoc-Roussillon is also a region with a culture of design which from now on asserts itself more or less everywhere. Specialised boutiques in the city centres or on the outskirts, show-rooms, restaurants, hotels and guest houses, private beaches… History is a real definition of urban modernity. ◗

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Béziers,city ofauthenticity ◗

TO SEE/“FOLIES” IN THE VINEYARDS These “Biterrois follies” bear ample witness to the economic boom Béziers experienced thank to its wine culture. While the “SaintAramon” vines slaked the thirst of the miners and metal workers of the late 19th century industrial period, outside the town, in an ocean of vines, grew the “Palais de l’Aramonie”. Such wine châteaux mushroomed in the Biterrois countryside, vying with each other in terms of architectural boldness (and occasionally bordering on bad taste). It is said that the profits from a single harvest back then sufficed to fund one of these châteaux, designed by the era’s greatest architects such as Bordeaux’s Garros. Baïssan, La Gayonne (pictured), La Devèze and Lirou count among these “follies”. The Château of Raissac is the only one in the region to market its wines. Restored over 20 years ago in the non-conformist style of its owners, Christine and Jean Viennet, Raissac is also home to an earthenware museum.

Towering over the Orb and the Canal du Midi, the city made rich by vines in the 19th century abounds in hidden treasures.


eemingly inaccessible when viewed from the canal bridge straddling the Orb, Béziers (Hérault) looks down from the lofty heights of its majestic cathedral (St Nazaire), on a history stretching back 27 centuries. To get to the top, the walker can choose from a maze of slopes and staircases climbing the 60 or so metres separating the river from the two hills, the Saint-Jacques and Saint-Nazaire districts on which the town is built. The city, enriched in the second half of the 19th century by the wine boom, jealously SUDDEFRANCE - 42 -

THE FONSERANNES LOCKS A series of nine locks, allowing boats to be raised to a height of 21.50 m over a distance of 300 m. One of the showpieces of the Canal du Midi, at the ports of Béziers. And one of the most visited sites in the region. Chemin des Écluses. Tel. +33 (0)4 99 41 36 36

guards its architectural treasures; here a Gothic pinnacle, there a Renaissance window and the ubiquitous heavy gates behind which hide sumptuous private mansions, signs of the feverish “folly” which swept through the Biterrois region in the 19th century, a time when the region was all the rage for the Parisian“smart-set”. Saved from mildew and above all phylloxera, and with the help of the Canal du Midi and the arrival of the railways, Béziers became the richest city in Languedoc. The self-proclaimed “world capital of wine” carved out an appropriately immoderate destiny for itself a past to which the grand Haussmannstyle boulevards bear ample witness. The Allées Paul-Riquet, the backbone of the town adorned in 1838 with a statue of Paul Riquet (the work of David d’Angers) and lined with plane trees in 1848 are one example. At each end stands a symbol of success: to the north the splendid Bonbon-

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TO SEE/TO DO FROM THE ORB TO THE JAUR Do take the time to venture a few dozen kilometres from Béziers to the northern part of Hérault, through Roquebrun or Faugères, to the regional nature park of Haut Languedoc. You will discover a completely different world. You leave the balmy shores, climbing to the foot of the Caroux Massif, the first outpost of the Massif Central, and come upon the superb villages of the Vallée de l’Orb. Here, olive trees give way to orchards. Villages nestle among chestnut trees and the mountains welcome climbers and hikers, while mountain bikers have at their disposal nearly eighty kilometres of greenway between Bédarieux and Mazamet, Hérépian, Poujolsur-Orb, Colombières-sur-Orb, and the wild gorges.



nière theatre built in 1844 in the Italian style. To the south, the plateau des Poètes is a pleasant English garden, designed by Bűhler. Here, the shady avenues, water features and plashing fountains celebrate one of the region’s most famous sons, the sculptor Injalbert who created a colony of tritons and nymphs around his monumental Titan. Each year, 700,000 visitors walk down the avenues leading towards the Gallo-Roman amphitheatre tucked into the Saint-Jacques district. Or their more modern equivalent, built in 1905 in the Spanish style by Fernand Castelbon de Beauxhostes, a passionate sponsor of the theatre and the lyric arts. The biggest amphitheatre in France (13,100 seats) plays host to bullfights at the famous Feria on August 15th. This old wine city, full of art, theatre and culture, is the perfect showcase for its own rich heritage. ◗

An old Roman settlement, to the east of Béziers, Pézenas was known in ancient times for its wool. When it became part of the royal domain in 1261, the city experienced spectacular development. A well-known fair was held there and in the 15th century it became the headquarters of the Estates General of Languedoc. Illustrious governors, like the Duke of Montmorency and the Prince de Conti made the city the "Versailles of Languedoc". Molière also came to the city to entertain the Estates General. Some beautiful period mansions remain, like the Hôtel de Flottes de Sébasan, Hôtel Saint-Germain (now a museum) or the house of Jacques Cœur. Today, Pézenas hosts the arts, theatre and crafts (costumers, puppeteers, mosaic artists, blacksmiths, cabinetmakers, antique dealers) and combines the memory of Molière with that of Bobby Lapointe, poet-singer of the sixties and native son of the city. SUDDEFRANCE - 43 -

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Montpellier, ashiningexample

ofLanguedocat itsbest Although its history is more recent than that of its neighbours, which dates back over two millennia, Montpellier has experienced unusual and dynamic development.


ow the undisputed capital of the Languedoc-Roussillon, Montpellier is nevertheless the most recent of the major cities of the Mediterranean. Beginning as a small group of rural villages linking the Gallo-Roman cities of Nimes and Narbonne, the city of Montpellier was born in 985, a millennium after its cousins. Sited near the Domitian Way and the Way of Saint-Jacques de Compostela (see p.11), with a port in Lattes next to the sea, the city developed around trade, attracting pilgrims and travellers who inaugurated its strong cosmopolitan tradition. This activity led to the emergence of an impor-

tant intellectual centre, to the extent that Montpellier became the site of the first medical school in the kingdom of France and beyond, where Nostradamus and Rabelais both studied! The botanical garden adjoining the university, founded in 1593 by Henri IV to provide medicinal plants, is thus the oldest in France. Montpellier’s prosperity continued to rise for over two centuries, first with the Guilhem family - founders of the city - then as part of the kingdom of Aragon. But during the Hundred Years War the city suffered a series of severe crises and drifted into decline. It took on new life under the impetus of Jacques Cœur, appointed as the king’s commissioner in 1441 to the Estates of Languedoc to raise the economy of the region. The Wars of Religion caused further suffering and most of the Catholic and Protestant churches were burnt down, depending on which side was governing the city at the time. The Enlightenment was a more beneficial period for Montpellier, largely thanks to Jean-Jacques Regis Cambacérès, a native of the city who, after graduating in law, beSUDDEFRANCE - 44 -

TO SEE/A CITY WHERE THE PEDESTRIAN IS KING! The constant demographic expansion of greater Montpellier – 8,000 people move there every year – has inspired urban development making it one of France's greatest pedestrian spaces. It began in the mid-eighties with the pedestrianisation of the Place de la Comédie. Pedestrians continue to take back the city with the inclusion in the walkers-only district of the sixteen hectares of the Ledru-Rollin - Jeu-dePaume area. Now all the major monuments of the city centre may be visited car-free, by foot, bike, or streetcar. Montpellier integrated its public transportation policy with its development, making Montpellier a champion of environmentally responsible urban tourism.

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came a member of the National Convention of the Revolution, and author of the Napoleonic Code (1804). The city was largely bypassed by the industrial revolution, the region remaining agricultural, even if it made its fortune from wine in the course of the nineteenth century. A small provincial town after World War II, Montpellier experienced a boom in development prompted by two events: the repatriation of French colonials from Northern Africa at the time of decolonization. The city built on the demographic influx in the 60s, its population doubling in size between 1962 and 2002. At the same time, the computer giant IBM set up its European headquarters in Montpellier, giving an economic boost to the city. Montpellier is also university town, enjoying sunshine (more than 300 days per year) and the sea, and has capitalized on its appeal while retaining its human scale (250,000 inhabitants in the city, 430,000 in the metropolitan area) and it regularly features among winners of the prize for the city with the best quality of life. The Ecusson, the historic centre, remains the heart of the city and its major pedestrianisation scheme has made strolling through the streets even more enjoyable. The Musée Fabre, one of the finest provincial museums of Fine Arts, is a sumptuous setting for prominent works, like those of Courbet and Delacroix, not to mention the beautiful room dedicated to Pierre Soulages, and has attracted tens of thousands of visitors since its reopening. Narrow streets, lined with discrete seventeenth and eighteenth century townhouses, weave their way through the centre, leading to magnificent buildings such as Saint Pierre Cathedral, the Peyrou park with views over the countryside, the charming St. Anne or the lively Place de la Comédie with its ornate buildings from the prosperous 19th century. A little further on, the Arceaux makes a charming setting for the boules players in the shade of the aqueduct, while the neighbourhoods of Boutonnet and Beaux-Arts cultivate their slightly trendy village atmosphere. From there, you can wander along to Saint-Lazare cemetery, where the Queen of Italy is buried. Exiled in1946 after the proclamation of the Republic, she chose to end her days in Montpellier. Such is the indolent charm of this city, which is modern yet still close to the earth. And indeed, the commune has some renowned wineries, classified AOC Gres de Montpellier! But in Montpellier, there is an easy familiarity between classicism and modern urbanism, with the famous district of Anti-


PLACE DE LA CANOURGUE. gone created in the early 1980s by Catalan architect Ricardo Boffil, who designed his project as a tribute to Antiquity using compact concrete for its classical forms and perspectives. Since then, the city has offered unique potential for prestigious architects. New districts are springing up (Malbosc, Jardins de la Lironde, Ovalie, Porta-Marianne etc.). The latest big projects to be inaugurated include Pierrevives, the new departmental archive centre, signed by Zaha Hadid, the Odysseum centre, the only complex in the Mediterranean to have created a symbiosis between the commercial area with its open air shopping mall, and leisure facilities like the skating rink, the highly popular aquarium (“Mare Nostrum”), multiplex cinema etc. SUDDEFRANCE - 45 -

Today the city is developing along the Lez River toward the sea. The symbol of this venture is the new City Hall, inaugurated two years ago. The ecologically and technologically advanced building is a dark blue – the colours of Montpellier – which changes with the sunlight. Opposite the building there is a whole new district baptised PortMarianne laid out around Jacques Cœur pond and symbolising the spirit of conquest of this vibrant city. The new district has emerged with the participation of renowned architects like Jean Nouvel, Christian de Portzamparc, Rudy Ricciotti – who inaugurated the ethereal bridge, Pont de la République, in the Spring of 2014 (see p.40) – and awaits the project of young Japanese architect Sou Fujimoto, a 17-storey “tree

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building” on the banks of the Leze in 2017. A city of grey matter – nearly one in five residents is a student or researcher –Montpellier has definitely capitalised on its talents. So it is hardly surprising that in 2012 the New York Times ranked the capital of Languedoc as “France’s most forward-looking city”. ◗

TO SEE/MEDIEVAL MIKVÉ In the basement of an old house in this historic centre, a narrow stairway leads to a small pool, filled with water of a deep green colour originating directly from the water table. This reservoir is in fact a mikvé, a Jewish ritual bath dating back probably as far as the 12th century, discovered by chance during the seventies. Persecuted in Andalusia, Jewish scholars migrated to Egypt and also to southern France. In Montpellier, a land of tolerance and dialogue, they settled in a few streets near the modern-day Place de la Canourgue and they participated actively in the intellectual flowering of the city. This mikvé is one of the rare Jewish baths from the Middle Ages located in Europe. Access is by guided tour organised by the Tourist Office. Tel. +33 (0)4 67 60 60 60


Musée Fabre*

The fine arts museum of Montpellier houses beautiful works of 19th century artists (Courbet, Frédéric Bazille, Maillol) as well as from the 20th century along with a formidable hall dedicated to Pierre Soulages. 39, bd Bonne-Nouvelle, 34000 Montpellier. Tel. +33 (0)4 67 14 83 00

Musée Languedocien This charming little museum retraces the history and development of Montpellier through objects from daily life, from the Roman era to the prosperous period of the 19th century. 7, rue Jacques-Cœur, 34000 Montpellier. Tel. +33 (0)4 67 52 93 03

Jardin des Plantes

The oldest botanical garden in France was created by the Faculty of Medicine of Montpellier in 1953. You will be entranced by the timeless charm of this botanical garden endowed with an orange grove. Boulevard Henri-IV 34000 Montpellier. Tel. +33 (0)4 67 63 43 22

La Nef Recently acquired by the Ateliers d’Art de France, this exceptional site celebrates the vitality of contemporary creativity in the artistic trades. Exhibitions, film screenings and a designer boutique. 41, rue de l’Université, 34000 Montpellier. Tel. +33 (0)4 99 62 76 96 SUDDEFRANCE - 46 -


Château de Castries Called the “Little Versailles of Languedoc”, the Château de Castries is renowned for its French garden (17th century) of 12 hectares designed by Le Nôtre, the gardener of King Louis XIV. From the courtyard, one can access the large terraces offering a superb view of the pathways like a radiating star, the ponds and a landscape of vineyards. Tel. +33 (0)4 67 52 04 24


Chèvrerie des Demoiselles Between Cévennes and the scrublands, your hosts will help you to discover the famous “pélardon fermier” (AOP), a farmer’s little round cheese made from raw goat’s milk. Tour the site and meet the “demoiselles”. La Perche, 34190 Montoulieu. Tel. +33 (0)4 67 99 19

EAT & REFRESHMENTS At the “Maison de la Lozère” Restaurant*

One of the best restaurants in the city-centre, the Maison de la Lozère offers in addition to a very refined cuisine, a very beautiful dining room with a vaulted ceiling as well as a patio in the heart of old Montpellier. 27, rue de l’Aiguillerie, 34000 Montpellier. Tel. +33 (0)4 67 66 46 36

“Le Folia” Restaurant Within the courtyard of the Château de Flaugergues, you will be treated to fine cuisine with fresh products from the market that change with the seasons and there is also a very pleasant terrace. 1744, av. Albert-Einstein 34000 Montpellier. Tel. +33 (0)4 99 52 66 37

“L’Artichaut” Restaurant The distinctive stamp lent by the old stones of the historic centre makes this restaurant a friendly place with a “bistronomic” style based on fresh products of the season. 15, rue Saint-Firmin, 34000 Montpellier. Tel. +33 (0)4 67 67 91 86

ACCOMMODATION Mas des Violettes

Charming hostels with a subtle decor located in the heart of the natural environment, the Mas opens out onto the vast open spaces of Pic Saint-Loup and Hortus. Hameau de Gourdou, 34270 Valflaunès. Tel. +33 (0)4 67 59 62 39

Hôtel des Arceaux*

Two steps away from the historic city-centre, this authentic charming hotel is set in a 19th century bourgeois mansion within sight of the Aqueduct des Arceaux. 33-35, bd des Arceaux, 34000 Montpellier. Tel. +33 (0)4 67 92 03 03 * Labelled “Tourisme Sud de France”.




Roman walk in Ambrussum* North of the town of Lunel Villetelle this important GalloRoman archaeological site is located on the former Domitian way, linking the Alps to the Pyrenees via the Languedoc, and stretching from Rome to Cadiz in Spain. The site includes the vestiges of the Roman bridge - the bridge of Ambroix, of which only one arch remains, which once spanned the Vidourle. Vestiges can also be seen of the oppidum, the fortified hill town, with the ruins of a public building and houses dating back to the 4th century BC. The paving stones of the old Roman road are still intact in places. The site now offers an archaeological visit lasting 1h30 through the remains. At the little museum, you can discover what life was like in Gallo-Roman times, and there is a film reconstructing the ancient period. Musée d’Ambrussum Chemin d’Ambrussum, 34400 Villetelle. Tel. +33(0)4 67 02 22 33 - * Labelled “Tourisme Sud de France”.

Discover the fauna and flora at the Domaine de Restinclières In the heart of the garrigue between Prades and Saint-Mathieu de Tréviers, this 215ha area next to the Lez, was the domain of the 18th century Château of Cambacérès, before becoming an agricultural and vineyard estate. The area has been managed by the department of the Hérault for 25 years, and is a place of discovery for the typical fauna and flora of the region, traversed by a trail winding through garrigue and forests of pine, oak, cypress... Ideal for hiking or mountain biking. Temporary exhibitions are held at the Maison de l’Environment. RD 17, 34730 Prades.

Les Matelles, an authentic village Fifteen kilometres from Montpellier, Les Matelles is a discrete medieval village that has been beautifully restored. In the midst of the garrigue near the Pic

providing excellent fuel for the furnaces. The activity declined after the 18th century, but in Claret, the old glassworks was transformed into the Halle du Verre glass centre in 2009, designed to provide educational and cultural information about the manufacture and history of glass in all its forms. Glassmakers and glassblowers have set up their workshops nearby, and there is a glassmaker’s trail to Ferrières-lesverreries. 5, avenue du Nouveau-Monde, 34270 Claret. Tel. +33 (0)4 67 59 06 39

Saint-Loup, you can enjoy wandering through the authentic streets of the village. Built along the Lirou River, the village has preserved its 15th century ramparts, its covered passageways and carved interior staircases. A museum of the Pic Saint-Loup brings the prehistory of the region alive with archaeological finds from the Palaeolithic to the Iron Age. Les Matelles is also the birthplace of Albertine Sarrazin, poet prodigy who died in the 60s.

Nature and wine trails on the Pic Saint-Loup Located 24 kilometres from Montpellier, Pic Saint-Loup (658m) contemplates the Cévennes on one side and the garrigue landscape and sea on the other. With its alter ego, Hortus (515m) these two mountains are the gateway to the Hérault hinterland and its small villages such as Saint-Mathieu-deTréviers, Saint-Jean-de-Cuculles, Valflaunès, Notre-Dame-deLondres. Typical Mediterranean villages that reflect the quality Languedoc wines produced under the AOC "Coteaux du Languedoc”. The trail to the top of Pic SaintLoup starts from Cazevieille,

following the GR 60, with a magnificent view on arrival (allow 1h30 to 2h). At the top, the ruins of Montferrand have been standing guard ever since 1108. Wine buffs will enjoy exploring the wine trails by car, mountain bike and even by electric bike.

Art of the glassmakers of Claret Glassmaking has been part of Languedoc tradition since the Middle Ages in this town to the northeast of Sommières, due to the abundance of garrigue,



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Nîmes,acity that cultivates itsdifference City with a glorious ancient past and important role in the history of Protestantism, Nîmes is proud of its heritage and cultivates its differences against the backdrop of a particular art of living.


rotestant rigour and the exubereance of the Camargue, Nimes decided not to choose between the two. Both outgoing and secret , it is a city of many colours. With a history that goes back over 2500 years, Nîmes became a colony under the Roman Empire and was adorned with magnificent monuments, testifying to the importance of the city. Magne tower, 37m high and part of the Roman forum, the Maison Carrée temple built during the early years of the Christian era and inspired by the Temple of Apollo in Rome, dominaSUDDEFRANCE - 48 -

TO SEE/JEANS, ORIGINALLY FROM NIMES ? At the end of the Renaissance, as throughout the region at the time, Nîmes was an industrious city, transforming the wool produced in the hinterland into woollen cloth of renowned quality. In the 17th century, Nîmes cloth manufacturers began importing Egyptian cotton to make a rustic serge fabric, dyed blue. This “Nîmes canvas” renowned for its resilience. It was almost as resilient as the canvas manufactured in the city of Genoa since the 16th century used to make sails and tarpaulins. In 1853 at the time of the gold rush in the western U.S., a young German immigrant named Levi Strauss sold tents and tarps made from this Italian canvas to gold prospectors. Until he came up with the idea of using the cloth to make overalls and work pants. The pants were soon named after the cloth they were made from, i.e. jeans, a deformation of Genoa. But in 1860, Levi Strauss decided to replace the heavy fabric with a cotton twill weave that was more supple: the famous Nimes canvas. With the differences in pronunciation, Nimes canvas quickly became “denim”, the name still used for the fabric to make " blue jeans ."

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ting the forum of the ancient city, the temple of Diana and the ancient Roman baths, Augustus Gate and of course the Amphitheatre, stand as witnesses of this golden age. Not to mention the castellum at the end of the aqueduct built to assert the munificence of the city and which remains today a monument like no other: the famous Pont du Gard. No other French city has such ancient heritage. Grandiose vestige , these elegant buildings are the pride of a city that has continued to live with its history. This is true of the amphitheatre, built in the first century AD and enclosing an eliptical space133 meters long and 21 meters high. It once hosted the ancient games, was later transformed into a fortress in the Middle Ages and after 2000 years is still the beating heart of the city when concerts and operas held there in summer, as well as during the famous ferias at Whitsun and in September. More than 10,000 fans are packed tightly on the stone steps to watch the bullfights, but in the streets of the city there are hundreds of thousands of people who come to enjoy the event, in a half Spanish , half Camargue atmosphere that is unlike any other. Light-hearted, the Roman city is also a city of the south, where people call out to each other from one café terrace to another, with its famous covered market bustling with over a hundred traders and talented craftsmen, where you can stroll along boulevards lined with hackberry and plane

trees, hidden squares as in the Ilot Littré, former district of dyers. The city that made a fortune through the textile industry, Protestants business bankers and the wine trade, can also be discrete, with its elegant 18th century buildings - the homes of Protestant high society - the district of La Fontaine and where you can only catch a glimpse of the elegant courtyards of the mansions near the La Fontaine gardens, site of a sacred spring in ancient times, which was turned into a beautiful park in the 18th century. Protective of its past, Nîmes also knows how to conjugate the present and despite its rich heritage, the city is fertile ground for big names in architecture whose buildings are historical landmarks such as those designed by Jean Nouvel ( Nemausus ) Kisho Kurokawa (Costières Stadium), Philippe Starck, Jean-Michel Wilmotte (covered market) and especially the Carré d' Art , the bold work by British architect Norman Foster built in the center of town in 1993 to house a contemporary arts centre echoing the ancient echoing Maison Carrée just opposite. The perspective from the amphitheatre to the railway station has been brilliantly restored recently, with a play of light , restoring harmony to the different styles of architecture across twenty centuries. A symbiosis of the city and its ongoing dialogue between past and present. ◗ SUDDEFRANCE - 49 -

UNUSUAL/FESTIVAL PASSION Twice a year, Nîmes the Roman becomes the most Spanish of French cities. In late spring and just before autumn it welcomes the two ferias that have made Nîmes de most important ‘plaza de toros’ in France. The running of the bulls was first organised here in 1811 in honour of Napoléon II. And in 1863 the first bullfights took place in the two thousand year old arena. The feria was created in 1950. Since then, it’s been pasión all the way. The Harvest Feria in September attracts mainly aficionados come for the bulls, the Pentecost Feria is also a popular festival attracting crowds for bandas, concerts, flamenco dancing, and bodegas.

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TO SEE//TOUR MAGNE Located on Mont Cavalier dominating the gardens of La Fontaine, a real watchtower of the city that can be seen many kilometres away before arriving in Nîmes, the Tour Magne is the oldest structure of the city, transformed during the Gallo-Roman era but is older than that. We know very little of this mysterious structure dating back to the 3rd century B.C. At a height of 32.5 meters (it was 36 meters high during the Roman era) it likely was part of a protective wall around the city. The irregularity of its octagonal form can be explained by the fact that the substructure incorporates a tower built of dry stone. A terrace dominates the structure, which includes Tuscany columns and pilasters. It can be supposed that the Tour Magne, the pride of the people of Nîmes, played a defensive role for the enclosure but also may have served as a watchtower and to mark the power of the city.

Sources Perrier Tour the natural sparkling springs of Perrier. On the programme, discovery of the springs and the museum dedicated to this famous brand of sparkling water. Option to picnic onsite in the middle of the natural park. RN 113. 30130 Vergèze Tel. +33 (0)4 66 87 61 01


EAT & REFRESHMENTS “Jérôme Nutile” Restaurant The chef, who is from Gard, has just opened his gastronomic restaurant under his own name. High-class cuisine in an arresting setting 351, chemin bas du Mas-de-Boudan 30000 Nîmes. Tel. +33 (0)4 66 40 65 65


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Musée des Cultures Taurines

Tropical fish, tortoises, seals... over 200 marine species originating from the Mediterranean and elsewhere are to be discovered at the Seaquarium, just like the 25 species of sharks that live in a shark tank that is unique in Europe. Av. du Palais-de-la-Mer 30240 Le Grau-du-Roi. Tel. +33 (0)4 66 51 57 57


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DISCOVER Two steps away from the amphitheatre, a universe dedicated entirely to the regional and international bullfighting traditions, works of art, popular trinkets and the costumes of the bullfighters will thrill children and adults. Place aux Herbes 30000 Nîmes. Tel. +33 (0)4 66 36 83 77




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At “Le Passage de Virginie” Restaurant

In the middle of the old town, this is a typical southern bistro. The southern cuisine can be savoured on the terrace or in the vaulted dining area. 15, impasse Fresque, 30000 Nîmes. Tel. +33 (0)4 66 38 29 26

Michel Kayser For over twenty years the chef Michel Kayser with his wife Monique have been hosting the cream of Nîmes society at his Restaurant Alexandre in Garons, at the gates of Nîmes. In the dining room or in the park, a gastronomic journey is guaranteed with this chef crowned with two stars in the Michelin Guide. 2, rue Xavier-Tronc 30128 Garons. Tel. +33 (0)4 66 70 08 99

At the “L’Instant du Sud” Restaurant This is a charming and friendly address to discover a cuisine in the “bistronomic” style that is entirely homemade. Spend a pleasant moment on the terrace to take advantage of the beautiful days. 39, Grand-Rue 30510 Générac. Tel. +33 (0)4 66 02 03 93

RELAX Le Barjonaute Relaxing tour on a tricycle or semi-recumbent bicycle to

discover the wonders of Camargue in the Department of Gard. Thrills are guaranteed. 282, rue Carnot 30600 Vauvert. Tel. +33 (0)6 03 53 65 64

Planétarium Placed in the heart of the garden of Mont Duplan in Nîmes, this planetarium offers thematic observations (the summer sky in July, the Hubble telescope in August, the Autumn sky in September, etc.). Wednesdays, sessions for children (ages 5-8 years). Avenue Péladan 30000 Nîmes Tel. +33 (0)4 66 67 60 94

ACCOMMODATION Bed & Art Set in a 15th century building, this guest house is also a dwelling for artists. In a pleasant setting, enjoy the antique charm combined with the sober, refined style of the owners. 48, Grand-Rue 30420 Calvisson. Tel. +33 (0)4 66 01 23 91

Mas d’Escattes

This charming manor house with a refined decor is set in the countryside and offers you a restful stay. 8, allée du Mas-d’Escattes 30000 Nîmes. Tel. 00 33 (0)4 66 26 19 64 * Labelled “Tourisme Sud de France”

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The atmosphere of Camargue in the Department of Gard Camargue in the Department of Gard (listed as a Grand Site de France) more commonly called “Little Camargue”, is bordered on the East by the Petit Rhône River and marks the border of the Region of Languedoc-Roussillon while on the West it is bordered by the Vidourle River. The Plateau des Costières marks its northern border and the Mediterranean Sea is its southern border. This lagoon zone, between the hillsides and the marshes and located in the delta of the Rhône River, was always an open space for animals (pink flamingos, sandpipers, herons, bulls, horses, ducks, etc.) as well as for people. This is a space that is beyond time, between strong traditions and creative modernity. Aigues-Mortes, Vauvert, Beauvoisin and Saint-Gilles are the main municipalities of this area. Not to mention Cailar, which is a synthesis: a typical village of Petite Camargue, Cailar is known for the little church of Saint-Etienne where Saint-Louis came several times to meditate before his departure at Aigues-Mortes for the crusades, for its lively religious festivals in the summer and for its many herds of bulls and its art exhibitions. The artist Sophie Calle likes to come here to renew her inspiration.

Bagnols, between arts and history Once a prosperous town in the Middle Ages, Bagnols-sur-Cèze is located in the Cèze valley, in the northern part of the department of Gard. The old town has medieval charm, with its buildings in Place Mallet but there is also the wonderful Albert-André Museum with a wealth of contemporary paintings, and the futuristic Visiatome nuclear site in Marcoule. 10km away, the impressive Sautadet waterfalls – beautiful but dangerous – a geological curiosity that is really worth the visit.

The elegance of the Château de Caveirac Located in the Vaunage – a charming vineyard plain where you can go on pleasant country rambles – West of Nîmes, the Château de Caveirac was built in the 17th and 18th centuries and is considered to be a small southern Versailles. It was the Lord of this little village typical of the Department of Gard who acquired this old medieval building in 1653 and began to build his palace here starting in 1659. During the religious wars, the Château was the theatre of bloody clashes between the troops of Louis XIV and the Camisards. Endowed with

a hundred rooms and a park of 35 hectares, the Château experienced various fortunes before finally becoming a municipal possession in the 19th century. Restoration work was launched in order to breathe new life into this jewel of Languedoc architecture.

Sommières, symbol of the sweet life of languedoc Overlooking the Vidourle River, between Nîmes and Montpellier, this medieval town, so typical of the south, was created by the Romans. A wonderful Roman bridge remains, which was restored in the 18th and 19th centuries. Mansions, medieval side streets, the town hall building – built in 1768 – and the clock tower topped with a belfry are some of the many architectural treasures. Take a stroll along the riverbanks lined with plane trees or enjoy the beautiful view of the Pic Saint-Loup mountain and the Cévennes from the castle ruins (where medieval reenactments are performed in summer). Symbol of the Languedoc art of living, Sommières has a popular market on Saturday mornings, and in July and August, Wednesday evenings come alive with the night markets. The town also owes its reputation to the famous “terre de Sommières”, a fine clay known for centuries for its power to remove grease stains.

The timeless charm of the Chartreuse de Valbonne Founded in 1204, the Chartreuse de Valbonne is set in the heart of an exceptional wooded area unique in France, in the commune of Saint-Paulet-de-Caisson. It was the home of Carthusian monks until the early 20th century when site became a hospital centre. But visitors are allowed into the church, with its amazing roof in glazed tiles more typical of Burgundy than the garrigues, its chapel, cloisters, refectory and monk’s cell with its furniture and everyday objects. Classical music concerts are regularly held in this exceptional location.




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Mende, theepicentreofLozère Episcopal see, Mende has preserved many testimonies to its past. and remains the ideal location from which to visit the Grands Causses.


n the upper valley of the Lot in the Grands Causses region, Mende (Lozère) has been touched by the hand of history. It remains an astonishing experience to arrive at the foot of the Basilica Cathedral of Notre-Dame-etSaint-Privat (built in the 14th century at the behest of Guillaume de Grimoard, who in 1362 became the 6th Pope of Avignon under the name of Urbain V), not least for the contrast between this imposing building dominating the centre of the

old town and the local houses huddled all around, with their shale stone roofs. Such was the former excess and grandeur of a town which was an episcopal see until the Revolution. In the 16th century, Mende was one of the richest dioceses in the Languedoc. But the ecclesiastical principality fell on dark times, hence its motto; “The darkness hath not vanquished me”. Assailed and taken in 1579 by the troops of the Huguenot captain Merle, the town was for the most part burned and razed to the ground. However, those who visit the little town today are in for a surprise. The population is growing, universities and training centres have decided to set up there, along with non-polluting industries. Benefitting from the boom, Mende has embellished its boulevards, narrow streets lined with ancient buildings and its image as a “country town”. SUDDEFRANCE - 52 -

Enjoy the old centre, at the foot of the mountains with their numerous gushing springs, winding their way down through gardens and the prairies of the sparse walled towns. Channelled and feeding into the town’s underground water system, these springs resurface around the old wash house and in the many fountains which dot its streets. Mende is an excellent starting point for visiting the Grands Causses region, or Mt Mimat which overlooks it, with its imposing thick pine forests. This sports-mad town is also the scene of many events, such as the Trèfle Lozérien (an international all-terrain motor rally), car rallies, the Grande Fête du Sport (late June every second year) and the Marvejols halfmarathon… ◗

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The Gorges du Tarn, with the Malène boatmen Exploring the Gorges du Tarn by boat will give you a different view of one of France’s most famous natural sites. From the 14th century until the construction of the road in 1905, wooden boats were the main means of travelling, in addition to the mule track . At the beginning of the 19th century, the first tourists were taken on board to discover the impressive canyon dug by the Tarn between the Causse Méjean and Causse de Sauveterre. The boatmen have kept the tradition alive, offering an 8 km trip along the narrowest passes through the gorges as far as the Cirque des Baumes, where the cliffs rise up to 500m. A journey in a flat bottomed boat, through the clear and sometimes rushing waters of the Tarn in the most beautiful and impressive part of its descent! Tel. +33 (0)4 66 48 51 10 -

Spinning wool in Langogne* Established in the mid 19th century, on the site of a former mill dating back to the Late Middle Ages, the ancient wool mill has preserved the large mill wheel driven by the bordering canal. Now a museum, the mill describes the wool manufacturing process from the sheep to the skein, ready for knitting. The one-hour visit, including scenography and a slide show, also gives you a chance to see the machines, dating back to 1850, in action, driven by water power. Listed as historical heritage, the Wool Mill is a testimony to the development of the textile industry from which Langogne prospered in the past. Tel. +33 (04) 66 69 25 56

Meeting with wolves in Sainte-Lucie

There is nothing surprising in a park dedicated to the re-introduction of wolves in the Gévaudan area, as they were the perfect culprits for the series of deathly attacks that fell some one hundred people between 1764 and 1767. The Sainte-Lucie

Wolf Park gathers around one hundred specimens over twenty hectares. The guided tour will introduce you to five different species living in semi-captivity , Polish, Canadian, Arctic, Siberian and Mongolian wolves, and will tell you all about their habits. Tel. +33 (0)4 66 32 09 22

An unusual trip in the Vallon du Villaret* This is one of the most visited vales in Cévennes and a perfect destination for families. Children are the star guests and will love the installations, created by artists, using water, sound, light and the human body. Exhibitions (Ben, Claude Viallat, Pierrick Sorin, Alain Clément, Soulages, Tapies…) and concerts add to this original approach, all within a protected environment… A large contemporary garden which is not just an amusement park but a fun, wonderful and educational meeting with nature. Don’t miss it! Vallon du Villaret. Tel. +33 (0)4 66 47 63 76

Travel back through time in Causse Méjean* Sheep paradise, the highest and least populated of the Causses. Set in a massive Caussenarde farm, the Causse Méjean Ecomuseum “La Ferme Caussenarde d'Autrefois” introduces you to the history and daily life of local inhabitants. The typical architecture of thick walls, arches and slate stone roofs portrays its traditional functions from stable to attic, from the kitchen to the bedrooms, including the baker’s oven… Time came to a halt here one hundred years ago, the furniture still houses crockery and household linen, while the farming machines and tools patiently await the farmer. Old photographs and a film, “Lou Mèjio”, add to this visit to the past of the Hyelzas hamlet in Hures-la-Parade, where you will also find a dairy dedicated to sheep’s milk. Tel. +33 (0)4 66 45 65 25 - * Labelled “Tourisme Sud de France”.





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TheCanigó,asacred ◗ mountain


Canigó Peak is the jewel of the Catalan region. Soaring to 2,784 metres, it is the site of several local curiosities. Listed as a grand site since July 2012.


he Canigou (Pyrénées-Orientales) is shrouded in legend and attracts hordes of visitors each year. Its winding paths offer a wide range of walks, just as accessible to Sunday walkers as to the hardiest ramblers. A wide cross-section of Roussillon’s historical curiosities were built here, just 5 km from the sea, such as the abbey of Saint-Martin-duCanigou, founded in the 10th century by a Count from Cerdagne and perched at an altitude of 1096 m. Or the Priory of Serrabone, whose gallery with its pink marble detail represents a veritable masterpiece of Roussillon Romanesque art. But above all it provides a fascinating belvedere. It is said that its summit can be seen from Barcelona, and even from Marseille on a clear day. One of its finest traditions takes place the

weekend before St John’s Day, a few days before the 24th June. Known as the Trobade, it brings together all those who love the Canigou. They come to climb up to the summit, laden with firewood and bundles of sticks, and bearing messages of hope and peace. On the 23rd June, the eve of St John, one of them carries the original flame, traditionally kept in the Castillet in Perpignan. That night, at midnight, the famous Flame of Canigou is finally relit. Pilgrims spend the night al fresco enjoying the warm atmosphere. The blaze on the peak can be seen from several villages round about. On the day itself, walkers take the flame and head back down the tracks in a stunning torchlight procession. It is then taken to the villages to feed the fires of St John. ◗


Consecrated in 1009, this former Benedictine abbey, built by the counts of CerdanyaConflent is one of the oldest examples of Romanesque art in the South. The stunning location of the abbey, situated at 1100m in altitude - 30 minutes walk from the village of Casteil – partly reflects the general insecurity of the time, particularly in regard to the Spanish invasions. The upper and lower church buildings are supported by columns, whose heavy capitals are decorated with engraved patterns of oriental inspiration. A magnificent view of the Conflent. Tel. +33 (0)4 68 05 50 03 * Labelled “Tourisme Sud de France”

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Salsescastle, northernboundary ofCatalanlands



Rising from the vineyards, the fortress of Salses is half-buried. A feat of military architecture built by the Spanish.


ocated fifteen kilometres north of Perpignan, the village of Salses-leChâteau is attractive not only because of the scenic beauty of its lagoons and famous fishermen’s huts, but also because of the grandeur of its 15th century fortress. It was built at the behest of king Ferdinand II of Aragon and his wife, Isabelle of Castile, to face the

onslaught of the French, who were anxious to regain Roussillon. The frontier between the two kingdoms was indeed only a few kilometres away. It was Francisco Ramiro Lopez, a nobleman of Aragon, who set about designing the edifice in 1497. His mission was to strengthen the position of Salses either by building onto the old castle or by creating a structure capable of holding siege for thirty to forty days before being rescued by reinforcements from Castile. The magnificent edifice was built in layers of local red-ochre limestone, Corbières stone and white stone from Ampurdan in Catalonia, and the fortress took 5 years to build. Still unfinished, the fortress was submitted to its first siege on 3 September 1503. 15 000 infantrymen from the French army besieged the 1000 soldiers and SUDDEFRANCE - 55 -

350 cavalrymen at the fort. Having failed to take the fort by canon, the French finally left after two months. The structure had proved its reliability as the first form of masonry capable of resisting attack by the new explosive mines and the metal canon balls of the time… Its architecture was indeed revolutionary for the times, with walls that were nearly 10m thick at the base. It was designed like a medieval fortified castle but equipped with all the technical finery of more modern fortresses. The fort is 115 m long and 90 wide. It was listed as a historical monument in 1886. It now receives around 100,000 visitors very year. ◗

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Serrabonne, the Priory in the Forest Located in the valley of Boulès in the heart of a green oak forest, the Priory of Serrabonne – from “Sera bona - the good mountain” – was founded in the 10th or 11th centuries. Solitary and perched in an austere landscape, this building with its slate walls rises up out of an ocean of greenery that adds to the magic. The serenity of the place is equalled only by the beauty of the capitals of the cloister columns and the elegance of the pink marble gallery of the church. Tel. +33 (0)4 68 84 09 30

Sensitive Tour in Mosset

An old border town between the Kingdoms of France and Aragon, Mosset has kept the relics of its rich past. The village is huddled around the château on a rocky spur at an altitude of 710 meters. The vestiges of ramparts, the towers and the courtyards of the old château invite you to take a journey back in time, while the Tour des Parfums, an entertaining little interactive museum, tells the story of fragrances and flavours. Tel. +33 (0)4 68 05 38 32

Saint-Michelde-Cuxa, the Abbey with Oriental Touches Founded in the 9th century with the support of the authorities to promote the rebuilding of the country after the withdrawal of the Arabs from the area then known as Septimania, the Bendictine monks sought refuge in Cuxa after their monastery in Olette was destroyed by floods. With its many relics, this Abbey




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PYRÉNÉES-ORIENTALES Arlessur-Tech Prats-deMollo-la-Preste

became an important pilgrimage centre. Endowed with a superb cloister where oriental influences can be seen in the motifs on the capitals of the columns, this centre declined in the 17th century and then closed with the Revolution, when the Abbey was sold as a national asset. In 1919, it was made available to the monks of Fontfroide who remained there until 1965 when they were replaced by the Benedictine monks of Montserrat. In the fifties, the cellist Pau Casals, exiled in Prades, held concerts to raise funds for the restoration of the church, which had even lost its cloister that had been reconstituted… in New York at the Metropolitan Museum, which has owned it since 1925. Tel. +33 (0)4 68 96 15 35 Guided tour by reservation.

Waiting for the Yellow Train

A medieval city on the border in the 11th century that was fortified in the 17th century, Villefranche-de-Conflent (the ramparts of which are listed with UNESCO) today sponsors many boutiques and artisans workshops. It is linked to Fort Libéria which dominates it by the famous underground stairway, known as the “Stairway of a Thousand Steps”, completed in 1853. The village is also the departure point for the famous Yellow Train, known as the “Canary of Cerdagne”. Created in 1910 to open up the mountainous areas of the department, the line serves many villages along its 62 km such as Mont-Louis (ramparts listed with UNESCO), Saillagouse and Osseja and ends its course at Latour-de-Carol (the highest railway station in all of Europe). The journey by rail (at a speed of 30 km/hour) is marked with 650 SUDDEFRANCE - 56 -




Located in the Aspres area, the medieval village of Castelnou (listed since 1984 as one of the most beautiful villages in France) is dominated by its château. This building, in a perfect state of preservation, was constructed at the end of the 10th century to serve as the military and administrative capital of the Vicount of Vallespir. The timeless village has preserved its medieval appearance with its ramparts governed by 8 towers and 4 gates, placed at the four cardinal points. Many craftspeople now run the village, where you can still see the communal ovens for baking bread and the painted roof tiles on the underside of the eaves. Tel. +33 (0)4 68 53 45 86


engineering works, including 19 tunnels, 15 bridges and 14 viaducts. Tel. +33 (0)8 91 700 900

Evol, the eagle’s nest village Invisible from the road that leads to Cerdagne, the village of Evol – attached to Olette since the 19th century – located in the middle of Haut Conflent appears to be an eagle’s nest with its houses ranged up the mountainside, all covered with roofs of “lauze” slate tiles, the manufacture of which the inhabitants were specialists during the long winter months. The massive feudal château was the anchor point for the village. The Chapel of Saint-Etienne, carefully restored, today rises proudly above the village, where there is also a Church of Saint-Etienne that dates back to the 11th century. In summer, the lanes are covered with pretty flowers.

Bouillouses Lake, the Jewel of Carlit

Located near Angles and Font-Romeu, Bouillouses Lake is a site listed since 1976, and is the first of a chain of six lakes located in the Massif du Carlit. A fragile jewel as a result of the crowds that it attracts, the site of 180 hectares at an altitude of 2,016 meters is only accessible in summer by shuttle bus leaving from the Plan de Barrès. Hiking, climbing, fishing, picnicking or just relaxing, Bouillouses Lake is a bower of beauty of which one can never tire. Tel. +33 (0)4 68 04 24 61


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EASTERN PYRENEES NEARBY HERITAGE Byrrh Winery* Founded by the Violet brothers in 1873, the Byrrh label, renowned internationally for its wine made from aromatic plants and cinchona bark (quinine), still maintains impressive wineries in the village of Thuir. In these storehouses that date back to the Industrial Revolution is the largest oak vat in the world, with a capacity of over 1 million litres. In the 10,000 m2 exhibition, you can discover the equipment used in the production of its aromatic wines and the history of the company. Period plays showing the history of the founding family and the history of the winery are held on Tuesday and Thurday afternoons! Tel. +33 (0)4 68 57 51 73 –

The Canalettes Caves* On the road to Vernet-les-Bains at Corneilla-de-Conflent, there are three caves (the Canalettes, the Grandes Canalettes and Cova Bastera) that can all be toured within a radius of 500 m. The Grandes Canalettes, “the Underground Versailles” include some of the most beautiful caves in France, owing to the wealth of its concretions as well as its crystalline structures. Every evening in the summer ther is a sound and light show. Part of the cave is accessible to people with reduced mobility. Tel. +33 (0)4 68 05 20 20 –

LOCAL PRODUCE Relais de Serrabonne To ensure the sustainable development of “bio” production, producers of organic crops in the Eastern Pyrenees have created gourmet stopovers where in the summer, their followers sell their organic products themselves.Thus organic cheese and organic wine, etc. are sold at the Relais de Serrabonne, in the summer at Boule-d’Amont on the inter-departmental highway. Tel. +33 (0)4 68 84 26 24

GASTRONOMY Saveur des Orgues Restaurant This welcoming place in the heart of the natural setting of Orgues d’Ille-sur-Têt offers fresh, regional products for a natural, innovative cuisine in the town of Ille-sur-Têt. Tel. +33 (0)4 68 84 10 48 -

L’Hostal Restaurant In the village of Castelnou, traditional and Catalan cuisine is offered by the chef Paul Bourret. In the summer, a panoramic terrace with a barbecue to taste the fish or the “planchas de viande”, meat grilled right on your table. Carrer de la Patora. Tel. +33 (0)4 68 53 45 42

La Vieille Maison AubergeCerdane*


At Saillagouse, this old carriage post-house has now become an indispensable travellers’ inn run by the Planes family. Country-style cured and processed meats, smoked pork belly and Catalan cream are on the menu at this destination with a rustic, pleasant decor that advocates traditional Catalan products. Place des Comtes de Cerdagne. Tel. +33 (0)4 68 04 72 08 * Labelled “Tourisme Sud de France.”

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Takingon thecitadels ofvertigo The castles of the Pays Cathare still seem to defend themselves against a history that has marked the land of Aude.


atharism, a dissident Christian movement spread by preachers starting in 1140, rapidly acquired a following in Languedoc, was recognized by its ruling nobles, and established dioceses in Toulouse, Carcassonne, Albi, and Agen. To counter the influence of this religion, which refuted the dogmas and the authority of the Catholic Church, in 1209 Pope Innocent III undertook the Albigensian SUDDEFRANCE - 58 -


Crusade. Led by Simon de Montfort, this Crusade was merciless, massacreing the population of Béziers. Carcassonne, Minerve, and Lastours. The county of Toulouse was conquered. The Treaty of Meaux (1229) put an end to the holy war, while the Inquisition continued to harry heretics, who took refuge in the fortified villages of Minervois and Corbières. The Cathar adventure, which had become a war of independence of the South against the Kingdom of France, ended by the

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fall of these villages and the joining of Languedoc to the crown of France. This is the epic retold by the castles of the Pays Cathare. Peyrepertuse (the most imposing), Aguilar, Termes, Puilaurens, Quéribus (the last stronghold of the Albigensians, who surrendered in 1255), and Puivert are among the most important. Soaring yet massive, the remains of these fortresses, perched at more than 700 metres of altitude, seem to be poised on their rocky spurs or to surge from the very rock itself, while their crenellated walls give an impression of unyielding strength. Today, from Durban to Lagrasse, the castle road of the Pays Cathare offers a visit to the heart of the history of the Cathars and many impressive monuments. ◗ Office intercommunal de tourisme des Corbières Sauvages, Cucugnan. Tel : +33 (0)4 68 45 69 40.

The castles of the Pays Cathare in Languedoc-Roussillon 1 - Aguilar • 2 - Arques 3 - Carcassonne • 4 - Lastours 5 - Minerve • 6 - Puilaurens 7 - Puivert • 8 - Peyrepertuse 9 - Quéribus • 10 - Saissac 11 - Termes • 12 - Villerouge-Termenes











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6 Note: This map shows the ruins of the castles of the Pays Cathare Other Cathar sites (Abbaye de Saint-Papoul, de Villelongue, etc.) may also be visited in the region. SUDDEFRANCE - 59 -

TO SEE/PUILAURENS, THE MELANCHOLY FORTRESS As you circle round a natural rocky arena you catch first sight of the virtually intact crenelated walls and four towers of the Castle of Puilaurens, perching 690 metres above the village of Lapradelle and the Boulzane valley. At the border between the departments of Aude and Pyrénées-Orientales, Puilaurens, in the 10th century, belonged to the Abbey of Saint-Michel de Cuixa. In the 13th century, the castle served as a place of refuge for many Cathars. It then came under the French crown to become the most southerly fortified castle in the Kingdom of France, facing the Kingdom of Aragon. The fortress was reinforced in the 15th and 16th centuries, but the site was decommissioned after the signing of the Treaty of the Pyrenees in 1659, when the border was moved further south, and then simply abandoned during the Revolution. But Puilaurens continues to defy time and the elements. In 2012, Puilaurens became the first and only Cathar citadel to be floodlit. Château de Puilaurens 11140 Lapradelle-Puilarens. Open every day in the summer except during stormy weather. Attention: allow 15-20 minutes to reach the foot of the castle. Tel. +33 (0)4 68 20 65 26.

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Gothic spirituality at the Abbey of Saint-Hilaire


Sculptures during a hike to Mayronnes For over 20 years in the High Corbières, the little village of Mayronnes has been blending art with hiking. Over a distance of 5 km, an entertaining hike in an exceptional natural site allows you to discover contemporary sculptures in the wild. An exhibition of twenty works is held all summer long, in addition to new pieces created onsite. Options for picnicking and meeting the artists, present at specific times near their works of art! Free visit Tel. +33 (0)4 68 43 12 37

Panoramic view of the Corbières

Saint-Victor is not to be missed in the Corbières: At the summit of this mountain (415 meters) endowed with an old hermitage, there is an incomparable 360degree view of the Corbières, as far as the Mediterranean Sea. But before you get there, you have to take a short walk. Alongside the vineyards, you will discover in particular old sheepfolds in ruins in an exceptional environment. Orientation tables are available.





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Halfway between Carcassonne and Limoux, the Benedictine Abbey of SaintHilaire traces over ten centuries of history. Set in the Lauquet Valley, it was founded at the end of the 8th century. It was also around this Abbey that the little village of Saint-Hilaire was built. Sheltered under the famous Gothic cloister, the sarcophagus of Saint-Sernin, a major work of the Master of Cabestany, is the key piece of this historic place. According to local traditions, the Abbey is the birthplace of the sparkling wine Blanquette de Limoux. In the 16th century, monks unknowingly created a sparkling wine which would become internationally renowned. Tel. +33 (0)4 68 69 62 76 www.abbayedesainthilaire.

Peyriac-Minervois Conquessur-Orbiel

Etang de Bages Etang de et de Sigean l'Ayrolle








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Wild World Immersion at the Maison Botanique


Etang de Lapalme


Nature break at the Duilhac Waterfalls

Nearly 500 species of plants belonging to the Mediterranean flora are displayed in the botanical garden of Durban-Corbières, on the road to Albas. This is the opportunity to discover the history of the local landscape over 8,000 m² with the sweet scent of thyme and rosemary. An exhibition all along the access trail initiates you into the secret of the plants of the scrublands... Tel. +33 (0)4 68 45 81 71

In this picturesque setting south-west of the village of Duilhac-sous-Peyrepertuse, the Gorges du Verdouble offer a stunning show. Also known as the “Duilhac Waterfalls”, this natural site with its waterfalls and basins was carved out by the flow of the river over the limestone bedrock of Anayrac. Between the vineyard and the rosemary, this is the opportunity to enjoy a lovely ramble, ending with a plunge in the cool waters.

In Cucugnan, the baker is the miller too

The secrets of Rennes-le-Château*

Roland Feuillas is the miller and the baker in Cucugnan, renowned throughout France for its flour milled with older varieties of wheat. To gain control of the entire manufacturing chain of his products, the baker restored the old mill to working order, at the summit of the village. This is how it happened that the different kinds of wheat in the brand of flour “Maîtres de Mon Moulin”, are ground with a millstone, just like in the old days. However, this artisan has more than one trick up his sleeve: If he has resurrected the real taste of bread, brioches and other baked goods are also produced at his bakery every day, to the delight of children and adults! Tel. +33 (0)4 68 33 55 03 SUDDEFRANCE - 60 -

It was on this famous lookout at Rennesle-Château that the Visigoths established a stronghold in 410, after pillaging Rome and carrying off the treasure of Jerusalem. However, even more than its ancient history, Rennes-le-Château is known worldwide for its parish priest, the Abbot Saunière, who in 1885, after conducting the restoration of the church, suddenly became very wealthy. Since that time, speculation is still ongoing about the treasure that the Abbot must have found! A must-see is the Domaine de l’Abbé Saunière. Tel. +33 (0)4 68 74 72 68 * Labelled “Tourisme Sud de France”.

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RESTAURANTS La Batteuse* At the foot of the château of Peyrepertuse at Duilhac, this family-style travellers’ inn offers a cuisine of the local area. Located in an old restored grange, you can also enjoy the shady terrace and admire the view of the château. Wines of the Corbières can be chosen from the menu. 2, chemin de la Batteuse Duilhac-sous-Peyrepertuse. Tel. +33 (0)4 68 45 04 96

Tantine et Tonton* A beautiful place to discover the real products of the local area. A friendly, family restaurant where organic and local products are the key words. Dishes designed for the season for a modern and refined menu. The cuisine is creative and the dishes are meticulous. In addition, the prices are reasonable. 29, avenue Fabre-Eglantine, Limoux. Tel. +33 (0)4 68 31 21 95

Auberge du Vieux Puits A three-star chef (there are only 25 in France), Gilles Goujon excels at his “Auberge du Vieux Puits”. Recently chosen as the 32nd restaurant in the world where one should “eat at least once in a lifetime”, this gastronomic restaurant is essential. Here, the product is the star and the chef’s cuisine is determined by the rhythm of the seasons. 5, avenue Saint-Victor, Fontjoncouse. Tel. +33 (0)4 68 44 07 37

WINE TOURISM Cave Sieur d’Arques* Created in 1946, the “Sieur D’Arques” Winery was born of the wish of the vintners to combine their know-how. The first sparkling wine in the world, the “Blanquette de Limoux” was, according to tradition, developed by the monks in 1531. Blending modernity and tradition, the vintners of Limoux created some exceptional wines. It is possible to tour the site independently (free of charge), or accompanied (a gift bottle of wine is offered to you at the end of the visit) including a wine taste test with commentary. Avenue du Mauzac, Limoux. Tel. +33 (0)4 68 74 63 00

ACCOMMODATION La Demeure de Roquelongue These charming guest rooms are located in a vintner’s old manor house, in the heart of the Corbières. With a refined decor in a relaxing atmosphere, a beautiful swimming pool is available near a superb garden. 53, av. de Narbonne, Saint-André-de-Roquelongue. Tel. +33 (0)4 68 45 63 57 * Labelled “Tourisme Sud de France”. SUDDEFRANCE - 61 -

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TO SEE/TO DO L’ABIME DE BRAMABIAU* In the commune of Camprieu, the abyss of Bramabiau is a beautiful waterfall where the Bonheur River, which rises at the foot of Mont Aigoual, emerges after flowing through the rock for over 700m. The river water is released from the mountain, gushing from a high, narrow crack and falling into a rocky crater called the “Alcove”.You can enter the cavity formed by underground erosion and the underground galleries above the river. Dinosaur traces have been found at this site. Tel. +33 (0)4 67 82 60 78



Mont Lozère and Mont Aigoual are among the last places where summer transhumance takes place in the traditional way, along the “drailles”, the drover’s roads used by the shepherds and their flocks to reach the summer pastures. Low stone walls mark the way; some of the paths follow old Roman roads, others are now hiking trails (the GR 60 on the drover’s road from Languedoc to Mont Lozère, or the GR 6 on a drover’s road from Pont-d'Hérault to Espérou and Meyrueis). They form a link between the valleys and plains that the herds of sheep, goats and cows would leave in the spring, (usually at the end of May) and the high plateaux they were taken to. A few rare flocks still make this long journey every year (which can take up to a week) and transhumance days are still an occasion for summer pasture fetes, with processions of flocks festooned with pompoms, demonstrations of herding techniques, shearing and of course the work of the sheep dogs… Transhumance celebration at the Col de l’Espérou (Gard) on June 14, 2015. Tel. +33 (0)4 66 54 29 65

* Labelled “Tourisme Sud de France”

Aigoual,summit of theCévennes Located only 70km from the sea, the massif of Mont Aigoual, in the heart of the Cévennes, is both a geographical barrier and a strong symbol of the Cévennes region.


entral to the history of the Camisards and the Resistance, Mont Aigoual, the “roof of the Cévennes” stretches across the northern Hérault, Gard and Lozère, rising to a height of 1567 m. At the top, the panoramic view of the Cévennes mountain chain is spectacular: in clear weather, the view takes in the Mediterranean sea, the massive ridge of Mont Lozère to the north, the Cantal mountains, the Pyrenees to the west and Mont Ventoux to the east and sometimes even part of the Alps. A cloud SUDDEFRANCE - 62 -

compass, Aigoual has a harsh climate with winds of up to 250km/h and the summit is regularly shrouded in rain, fog and snow. Moreover winter and spring tend to be the best times to enjoy the view from this forest area, as in July and August, the view is often obstructed by mist – unless you get to the summit by sunrise. Mont Aigoual meteorological observatory was set up on this summit in 1894, based on the model of a fortress to withstand the onslaught of the climate. Information is recorded about the speed and direction of the winds bringing the “Cévennes rains”, the famous torrential rainfalls that beat down on Gard and Hérault. It is the last inhabited observatory in France. All year round, meteorologists relay one another to take the temperature of the weather. The station has been open to the public since 1985: 500 m2 of exhibition space provides interesting information about the particular climatology of Aigoual and the work of Météo France. ◗ Tel. +33 (0)4 67 82 60 01.

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Prestigiouspast of Saint-Gilles A transit town in the Middle Ages, Saint-Gilles is a quiet city with a wealth of unique archaeological heritage and typical Camargue traditions.


town of pilgrimage, SaintGilles grew up in the Middle Ages around the figure who gave his name to the town and to the abbeychurch, where he is supposed to be buried. At that time Saint-Gilles was a major port in the South of France and a strategic point for crusaders and pilgrims travelling to Rome and the Holy Land, as well as for trade with the Middle East. While the saint has lost some of his notoriety, the town remains a staging point on St James’ Way to Santiago de Compostela, and its abbey-church still bears the signs of its prestigious past. Its superb façade has three portals separated by fully carved columns, whose layout was inspired by the triumphal arches of Ancient Rome. This jewel of Romanesque art of the lower Rhône depicts passages from the Gospel

and the Bible in the various styles of the sculptors who worked on its decoration in the 12th century. Partially destroyed during the wars of religion and rebuilt in the 17th century, the abbey has conserved its tombs, statures and effigies. The city has other vestiges of its rich medieval past, including several Romanesque houses. The most famous of these in Languedoc is the ‘Maison Romane’. Hidden behind its superb façade in cut stone, its large doors and lintels, there are a number of museum rooms devoted to archaeology and regional ethnology. Saint-Gilles is also known for its Camargue spirit, displayed at the many bullfighting events that take place during the summer season, Camargue races in the arena, bull-running in the streets, where you really sense the heartbeat of the city. This is true at the peach and apricot feria at the end of June and the feast of Saint-Gilles in early September. A short tour of the port, where the trading ships have been replaced by pleasure craft, may incite you to discover the Camargue in an original way, via the canal from Rhône to Sète. You can even take the boat to Beaucaire, another important centre of river tourism. ◗ SUDDEFRANCE - 63 -


TO SEE/BEAUCAIRE, CITY OF ART AND HISTORY Beaucaire partly owes its rich past to the Rhône River that runs through it. Located on the river and on the Via Domitia, the city was granted the privilege of holding an annual fair by king Louis XI. The week-long fair, la Foire de la Madeleine, gradually spread its fame around the Mediterranean and even throughout Europe, boosting the development of the town, which grew from 8,000 to … 100,000 inhabitants! In the area of Place de la République, lined with arcaded houses, two lovely townhouses bear witness to this period. As do the dimensions of the Church of Notre-Dame des Pommiers, a huge edifice with a curved façade. Beautiful vestiges remain of Beaucaire castle, like the polygonal tower, the round tower and ramparts overlooking the city. Labelled a “City of art and history”, Beaucaire is attractive because of its heritage, but also because its streets and alleys have drawn craftsmen, ceramists, embroiderers, leatherworkers, basket weavers and stained glass makers, adding extra charm. Next to Lamour canal, Beaucaire has as small marina linked to the Rhône. Only a few kilometres away, the trip through the garrigue, to Saint-Roman Abbey is a pleasure not to be missed. Carved into the limestone rock in the 5th century by monks who occupied the site for nearly 1000 years, this ancient cave monastery is unique in Europe. Musée de la Maison Romane. Tel. +33 (0)4 66 87 40 42.

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In a time warp at Saint-Gervais-sur-Mare

An ancient medieval city, Saint-Gervais has preserved many vestiges of its past and the trades of yesteryear (which live again during a festival held on Sunday July 5, 2015). In the village, the Maison Cévenole des Arts et Traditions Populaires – which is both the Office of Tourism and the heritage interpretation centre – have a collection of crafted and everyday items. Signs and slide shows explain the typical old trades in the Maret Valley and display the superb castrum of Neyran, which can be visited every Thursday in July and August. 12, rue du Pont, Saint-Gervais-sur-Mare. Tel. +33 (0)4 67 23 68 88

The Lamps of the Mine at Bousquet-d’Orb In this beautiful area, the permanent exhibition “The Lamps of the Mine”, feature the collection of 200 lamps and other objects used at the mines and originating from the private collection of Philippe Estang.

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Partly following an old rail line, the green lane of Haut-Languedoc was recently completed and offers a superb itinerary nearly 70 km long with its own exclusive right-of-way between Bédarieux and Saint-Pons-de-Thomières. Dedicated to forms of non-motorised hiking, it offers a trek in a beautiful landscape on foot, on horseback and on bicycle. The green lane crosses the Regional Nature Park of HautLanguedoc at its widest part, following the course of the three valleys of the River Thoré, the River Jaur and the River Orb.


Lac du Salagou

Saint-Gervaissur-Mare Bédarieux

1117 m Roc de la Layre

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On a mountain bike, from Bédarieux to Saint-Ponsde-Thomières



Born of the construction of a dam, Salagou Lake charms hikers and mountain-bikers who can follow its banks along a path for 28 km. It also attracts nautical sports enthusiasts and fishermen and refreshes swimmers. The site of Salagou and of Mourèze (limestone rocks 160 million years old) is in the qualification process of being listed as a “Grand Site de France” for the beauty of its landscapes. Tel. +33 (04) 67 96 23 86



A The Ochre World of Salagou



The exhibition is accompanied by signs, texts and photos, which relate the story of the mining basin of Hérault called the “Bassin de Graissessac”. 2, chemin de Saint-Martin, 34260 Le Bousquet-d’Orb Tél. +33 (0)4 67 95 01 07

The Revival of the Bells of Hérépian

Opened in 1998 with donations from the Granier family who owned a bell foundry in the village from 1600 to 1994, the Musée de la Cloche et de la Sonnaille at Hérépian is a superb place of over 1,000 m² dedicated to the art of campanology. It has just re-opened with new ambitions. The rooms of the museum show the manufacture and use of cowbells and also clarions and sleigh bells, the symbolism and the music of steeple bells but also a passionate exhibition on the techniques of manufacture and use of church bells. Not to mention of course the quadraphonic sound display, to the delight of children in particular. This is a museum where you can see and touch and discover. Musée de la cloche et de la sonnaille. Avenue de la gare, Hérépian. Tel. +33 (0)4 67 95 39 95

waters of the River Jaur and faces the Caroux and the mountains of the Espinousse. The vestiges of a castrum from the 12th century mark the centre of the village with the bell tower which proudly surveys it. From its Roman bridge in marble – the Devil’s bridge – you can climb the cobblestone lanes that remind us of the distant era when this fortified village guarded the entrance to the valley. Tel. +33 (0)4 67 97 71 26

Water and the waters of La Salvetat-sur-Agout

On the Pont du Diable at Olargues

On the boundary of the department of Hérault, La Salvetat was a spiritual centre built by the monks on the Santiago Prilgrims’ Way. Located in a piedmont zone, covered with pine and chestnut forests, the village wrote its destiny with water, including the river and the lakes and the spring of sparkling water known as “La Salvetat” exploited from time immemorial and recognised officially since 1848. The bottling plant can be visited during the summer months in the morning. The village is located near the Raviège Lake of over 400 ha, where in summer visitors go fishing, sailing, and pleasure-boating. Usine La Salvetat. Tel. +33 (0)4 67 97 64 44

Listed among the most beautiful villages of France, Olargues is placed on the


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HERITAGE Mediterranean Garden* In the charming village of Roquebrun, a collection of Mediterranean plants and mimosas is offered along a botanical trail of 4,000 plants and 400 species. Tel. +33 (0)4 67 89 55 29 www.jardin

ACCOMMODATION Domaine de Rodié In the municipality of Colombières-sur-Orb, this manor house built at the beginning of the 20th century with a colonial atmosphere where visitors include Albert Einstein and Pierre and Marie Curie, was transformed a few years ago into a guest house. A haven of peace with four beautiful big rooms and a swimming pool not far from a little stream. A haven of peace that is chic and relaxed. Tel. +33 (0)6 01 28 11 15 ou +33 (0)4 96 69 09 68

Les Terrasses du Caroux In the hamlet of the high Verdier at Mons-laTrivalle, a typical house with three simple comfortable rooms offer an unbeatable view of the entrance to the Gorges d’Héric. Tel. +33 (0)4 67 97 50 68

LOCAL PRODUCE Cabrol For over a century the Cabrol family in La Salvetat practises the art of making the traditional processed and cured meats of Haut Languedoc. Knuckle of ham, pâtés, tripe, sausages, ham… Cabrol products have become a must, sold in two stores in the village and on Internet. Tel. +33 (0)4 67 97 61 97

GASTRONOMY Auberge de Combes* Perched in the village of Combes, this travellers’ inn, holder of a “Bib Gourmand”, has been run by the Bonnano family for 20 years. Here, local products are interpreted with imagination and generosity. Their speciality: foie gras de canard partly cooked and then smoked on a barbecue of grapestalk embers from Carignan. Tel. +33 (0)4 67 95 66 55

L’Ortensia At Saint-Gervais-sur-Mare, this is a gastronomic location in an old manor house surrounded by a one hundred year-old park. In a contemporary decor that is respectful of the area, Eric Balan, trained by Marc Veyrat and Alain Ducasse, offers his talented cuisine. Tel. +33 (0)4 67 97 69 88 * Labelled “Tourisme Sud de France”. SUDDEFRANCE - 65 -

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1699 m Mont Lozère


Le Pontde-Montvert

Le Massegros

Causse Méjean












Causse de Sauveterre



La Canourgue

te on

Opened to the public in 1927, 30 years before, the Aven Armand Cave was discovered by Louis Armand, the celebrated French potholer. A natural shaft on the Causse Méjean, located at an altitude of 970 meters, the site extends down for 100 meters underground and includes nearly 400 stalagmites shaped by nature over millions of years. Located in the municipality of Hures-la-Parade, access is by a cable car which takes you to the first platform. The rest of the visit is on foot or by light, image and sound creating links between the real and fiction. Tel. +33 (0)4 66 45 61 31

Le Bleymard Chanac


A The Immensity of Aven Armand*




Discover the little Venice of Lozère A municipality with Venetian touches, Canourgue can be visited on your own or accompanied by a guide. The opportunity to discover its Romanesque church, its "place au Blé" or wheat square and its half-timbered house and its fountain. There is also an old mill dating from the 15th century, the only one remaining of 25 that once were located along the River Urugne. One can also visit the art gallery “Les Arts” in Lozère which exhibits paintings, engravings, sculptures and lithographs. Lastly, near this little medieval village is the chapel of Saint-Frezard, a building that is on the list of Historical Monuments. Tel. +33 (0)4 66 32 83 67

Gallo-Roman remains at Lanuéjols

In the locality of Lanuéjols is one of the most emblematic ancient sites of Lozère. A Gallo-Roman tomb dating from the 2nd century A.D., the Mausoleum of Lanuéjols is listed as a Historical Monument. Witness of a heavy occupation in GalloRoman times, it was built in memory of two sons from a wealthy family: the Pomponii. Composed of a raised funerary chapel and preceded by a vestibule with a colonnade, it is open to the public. Tel. +33 (0)4 66 48 00 82

Discover the vestiges of the Château de SaintJulien-du-Tournel

Perched on a rocky peak over 100 meters above the road, the Château de SaintJulien-du-Tournel dominates the entire valley of Lot. Only ruins remain of this fortress which dates back to the 13th century, which was the seat of the barons of Tournel, vassals of the Bishop who was Count of Mende. Access is free of charge and is by foot via the discovery trails. Tel. +33 (0)4 66 47 64 83

Exceptional landscape of the Gorges de Chassezac

A Nature Break at Villefort Lake Today listed as a large mountain lake, Villefort Lake has a fully equipped beach and offers various nautical activities. Very rich in salmon, visitors can fish in the lake from a boat, in the company of a professional. Flooded in 1964, the artificial Lake completel.y filled the Bayard Valley at the time. Used to produce electricity, the level of the water varies frequently. Thus it is sometimes possible to see a few vestiges of the old valley. Tel. +33 (0)4 66 46 87 30

Discover Garde-Guérin

A rampart between the Central Massif and Cévennes, the Gorges de Chassezac are composed of cliffs of over 400 meters at different levels. They can be seen from the fortified village of La Garde Guérin, where a viewpoint has been set up to enable visitors to admire the exceptional panorama. Different activities are available, such as mountain biking, climbing and canyoning. Over 30 km of marked trails allow for hikes that will take your breath away. Bring along a good pair of walking shoes. Prévenchères Tel. 00 33 (0)4 66 46 01 58

Since 1992, the fortified village of GardeGuérin has been recognised as one of the most beautiful villages in France. It is crossed by the Regordane Way, once a major artery of communication and commerce but also a journey of faith for pilgrims. It is possible to visit the village in the company of a guide and thus to discover its history. This is the opportunity to discover its Romanesque church from the 12th century, listed as a Historical Monument. Events are held all year: Crafts market, bread festival, concerts… etc. Tel. +33 (0)4 66 46 87 30

* Labelled “Tourisme Sud de France”.


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DISCOVERY The Taste of Milk on the Farm A relaxing moment in Mazet would be a visit to a working dairy in the heart of Gévaudan country, at Lachamp. On the program: Tour the area and watch the farm animals before a snack which is prepared onsite with fresh farm products: homemade bread, cream cheese, jam, “faisselle” farmers’ cheese, milk and hard cheese. The farm products are also for sale. Reservation required. Tel. +33 (0)6 73 87 55 40

ACCOMMODATION Domaine de Carrières Charming guest rooms at Marvejols, located between Aubrac, Margeride and the Gorges du Tarn. This 19th century property has been rehabilited and decorated in a contemporary style. Large swimming pool available, nested in the heart of a shady park. Tel. +33 (0)4 66 32 47 05

The Castle of Orfeuillette* Located in the municipality of Albaret-SainteMarie, a charming 19th century home entirely renovated and transformed into a restauranthotel.. In a 12 ha park, this building is decorated subtly in a chic, glamourous style. Luxurious rooms where the authentic and the contemporary blend and where certain pieces of furniture are even offered for sale. A high-range catering is offered at the restaurant where local products in season punctuate the menu. Lieu-dit La Garde - Tel. +33 (0)4 66 42 65 65

GASTRONOMY Auberge de Langlade* In an old forge built of stone exposed beams, the chef offers a refined cuisine based on fresh products of the local area. A pleasant setting, in the heart of the Valdonnez Valley, in the village of Brenoux. The restaurant has a pleasant terrace located in the shade of a hundred-year old plane tree. Products of the season are favoured. Brenoux - Tel. +33 (0)4 66 48 33 68

Hôtel de la Poste* In an old renovated grange, the chef offers to help you discover the leading products of Margeride. Far from the bustle of the city, this is a tranquil little corner in the locality of Châteauneuf de Randon. L’Habitarelle - Tel. +33 (0)4 66 47 90 05 * Labelled “Tourisme Sud de France”. SUDDEFRANCE - 67 -

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The land of contrasts that is LanguedocRoussillon is composed of a mosaic of different landscapes. From mountain-top to the sea, from the high cantons to the Mediterranean, from the Petite Camargue to the Vermillion coastline, they give rise to a smorgasbord of specialities which shape a veritable sun-soaked, refined cuisine. While you are probably already familiar with the Picholine variety of olive, cassoulet from Castelnaudary and Carcassonne, anchovies from Collioure, oysters from the Leucate and Thau lakes, brandade from Nîmes, squid and sweet onions from Cévennes or even Pézenas pasties, the gamut of flavours just keeps on coming. So many products fly the flag for this gastronomic region; in addition Languedoc-Roussillon is favoured with the largest viticultural region on the planet and produces some of the world’s best wines – a joyous area!








For more information, scan this QR code with your smart phone or log on to : SUDDEFRANCE - 69 -

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Thelargest vineyard in theworld Owing to its generous climate, the wealth and multitude of its local areas, Languedoc-Roussillon is a vineyard of rapidly developing quality. It is also the largest and oldest vineyard in the world, which stretches over more than 220,000 hectares.


f, to rephrase the celebrated formula In vino veritas, “the truth is to be found in the wine”, then Languedoc-Roussillon is truly a blessed land! It is on this land that growing grapes expanded, as, after the import of grapevines by the Greeks in 600 B.C. in the south of Gaul, wine-making developed around the Via Domitia, the Roman road linking Narbonne to Rome. The grapevines were developed over a period of twenty centuries, until wine-making became the main economic motor of the region. At the end of the 19th century, Languedoc and a part of Roussillon were then just rows of vines.

A region at the forefront of organic wine

It was at the end of the seventies that Languedoc-Roussillon began to redefine the vintner’s trade, to take advantage of the quality of its local areas. In 1985, just thirty years ago, the wines of the Languedoc hillsides, as well as those of Minervois and Corbières, became, following the example of Fitou and the coasts of Roussillon, registered designation of origin (AOC).

Varied AOC that offer a quality marked with diversity in a territory that cultivates sweet natural wines (the muscats of Lunel, Mireval, Frontignan, Saint-Jean-de-Minervois, Rivesaltes, Banyuls, Banyuls Grand Cru and Maury), the sparkling wines (including Blanquette and Crémant de Limoux) and a range of reds, whites and rosés. No other region can claim such a broad range, with over thirty varieties cultivated. In a few decades, the wine-makers and wine-specialists reinvented themselves to favour quality wines, develop concepts, try out experiments while conforming to tradition and promote the development of wine from organic agriculture, which already covers 20,500 hectares, or nearly 10% of the vineyards, making the Region of Languedoc-Roussillon the champion of organic wines of France, far ahead of other grapegrowing regions.

A large aromatic palette Land of sun-drenched wines, LanguedocRoussillon is the flag-bearer of respected diversity, which enables the production of SUDDEFRANCE - 70 -

wines with a generous, subtle character. Grapevines planted in shale which fortifies the wines of Saint-Chinian, from the Côtes du Roussillon and Languedoc to the pebbly local areas by way of the Corbières, which produced these spicy red wines such as the areas of Lézignan, Boutenac and Lagrasse, the aromatic palette of wines is very broad! With an area of over 200,000 hectares, of which 70,000 are within the Designation of Controlled Origin (AOC), Languedoc-Roussillon remains the largest vineyard in the world with a single tenant, rich in Protected Geographical Locations (PGL) and designations (over thirty) as diverse as Cabardès, Collioure, Crémant de Limoux, Fitou, Muscat de Frontignan and Languedoc. In addition, since 2007, a unique designation known as “AOC Languedoc” groups together the designations* located between the border with Spain and Gard, to enable better identification by consumers. Moreover, implementing the joint brand name “Sud de France" makes it possible to offer to wine lovers a tipple symbolising the identity and the modernity of the South, while maintaining this universally praised

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Wine tourism, an art of living Heirs of a remarkable terroir, the winemakers of Languedoc-Roussillon have understood the value of encouraging the discovery of their profession and products. Considering that one tourist in three spontaneously lists wine and good food among the things motivating their choice of stay, it makes sense to share this very special art of living. From April onwards, the region becomes a Garden of Eden for wine tourism enthusiasts, with a multitude of events related to food and wine. These may take the form of wine tasting in a unique setting or a vineyard and gourmet trail, stopping off at places on a predefined circuit. A succession of events continues throughout the summer. All of them unique moments of conviviality.


Open house for all the wineries (Hérault) Sunday, April 19, the 11th edition by the vintners of Montpeyroux. Tel. 33 (0)4 67 96 61 08. Wine Trade Show of Languedoc (Hérault) Sunday April 26 and Monday April 27, 150 vintners present their wine-tasting workshops and a Languedoc repast. Tél. +33 (0)4 67 06 04 44 A hike for the five senses (Aude) Sunday May 3, hike through the vineyards between Peyriac-de-Mer and Portel-des-Corbières. Tél. 33 (0)4 68 41 60 76 -

Gather ye rosés A historical paradox: while rosé may be the latest craze, among the three colours of wine, it is in fact the oldest! From Antiquity through the 17th century, wines were not barrel-aged, and thus were light in colour. The term ‘claret’ (with its relation to the French clair, or light) was invented to designate wine in general. Replaced by red in the 19th century, rosé wine is now reasserting itself over prejudice and bad examples. Produced from the same grapes as red wine (in this region, mainly cinsault, syrah, and Grenache), rosé is not, of course, a mixture of white and red, but the result of a different maceration technique. The rosé wines of Languedoc-Roussillon, with their aromatic palette ranging from red fruit (raspberry, strawberry) to spice, with a bouquet as floral as it is fruity or mineral, are fresh and appealing, wines to drink informally. IGP (quality-labelled) wines from Pays d’Oc to Corbières by way of Faugères or Pic Saint-Loup already represent 18% of the region's wine production. Elegant and feminine, they produce the impression of drinking sunbeams.

Mediterranean art of living. It is not for nothing that the celebrated American winetaster Robert Parker wrote that “le Languedoc-Roussillon is the new Eldorado of the

GOOD TO KNOW/ CLUB ŒNOTOURISME For wine tourism enthusiasts, Languedoc-Roussillon is a region to discover and rediscover, as there are just too many stopping points for one stay. The tourism and wine sectors of Sud de France Développement created the Club Oenotourisme Sud de France (Wine Tourism Club), in 2013, representing the remarkable sites, cellars, wineries, the accommodation providers involved in viticulture, as well as interested agencies, in an initiative to provide visitors with an enhanced quality offering.

wines of the world”. In 2014, the Protected Designation of Origin (PDO) wines of Languedoc-Roussillon have also conquered a bit more of the world as the wine exports underwent a sensational jump with an increase of 30% of sales to China, which has become the leading client of the region, ahead of the United States. These performances are all the more remarkable that the other win-producing regions have experienced an significant decline in their exports. ◗ ** The AOC Languedoc groups together the following designations: Cabrières, Grès de Montpellier, La Clape, La Méjanelle, Montpeyroux, Quatourze, Pézenas, Pic Saint-Loup, Saint-Christol, Saint-Drézéry, SaintGeorges-d’Orques, Saint-Saturnin, Terrasses de Béziers, Terrasses du Larzac, Terres de Sommières, Vérargues.


The wineries resistance (Aude) Saturday May 9, 10th edition in Calce. Tél. 33 (0)6 20 89 64 33 Crazy Vines (Gard) Saturday May 9 and Sunday May 10, a gastronomic hike through the vineyards of the designation Costières de Nîmes. The area of Grés-de-Montpellier (Hérault) Sunday May 10, a tour of wineries of Montpellier. Vinocap (Hérault) From Thursday 14 to Saturday, May 16, wine fair in Agde. Tel. 33 (0)4 99 47 48 49 Gourmet Trails in Clape Vigneronne (Aude) Sunday May 17, tour of the wineries on the coast. Tel. +33 (0)4 67 06 04 44 Wines, Vines and Terroirs (Hérault) Saturday, May 23 and Sunday May 24, 30 years of the AOC Languedoc are honoured during a hike through the vines. Tél. 33 (0)4 67 06 04 44. Les Amorioles (Eastern Pyrenees) Sunday May 24, gourmet tour of the local area of Maury. Tél. 33 (0)4 68 50 08 54 - Vignes buissonnières (Hérault) Saturday June 13 and Sunday June 14, tour and wine-tasting around Valflaunès. Circulade vigneronne (Hérault) Saturday July 4, gourmet adventure at the Terrasses du Larzac in Puechabon. Uzès Wine Fair (Gard) Friday 14 to Sunday 16 August, 40e foire aux vins. Wine festival (Aude) Saturday August 15, wine festival at Montlaur.

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SuddeFranceproducts fromLanguedoc-Roussillon ÉPICERIE SALÉE // Charcuterie Lozérienne VINS // Olives Lucques // Huile d'olive et Tapenade AOC RHÔNE // Petits pâtés de Pézenas Clairette de Bellegarde // Cassoulet de Castelnaudary Costières de Nîmes // Confit de Canard Côtes du Rhône // Boudin et Fuet Catalan Côtes du Rhône Village // Taureau de Camargue Lirac // Riz de Camargue Tavel // Sel de Camargue Vivarais // Brandade de Nîmes // Olives Picholine AOC LANGUEDOC // Tapenade Cabardès // Oignon doux des Cévennes Clairette du Languedoc // Agneau de Lozère Corbières Corbières Boutenac ÉPICERIE SUCRÉE Côteaux du Languedoc // Miels Faugères // Rousquilles Fitou // Zézettes de Sète Grès de Montpellier La Clape – Quatourze FROMAGES Limoux // Bleu des Causses AOC Malepère // Tomme des Pyrénées Minervois // Pélardon des Cévennes Minervois la Livinière Muscat du Languedoc PRODUITS DE LA MER Pézenas - Cabrières // Anchois de Collioure Pic Saint Loup // Tellines Picpoul de Pinet // Soupe de poisson Saint Chinian // Tielles de Sète Sommières // Huîtres de Bouzigues Terrasses du Larzac FRUITS ET LÉGUMES // Châtaignes // Pommes // Pêches / Nectarines // Abricot du Roussillon // Tomates // Melons // Nectarines

Cassoulet de Castelnaudary CASTELNAUDARY


LIMOUX Confit de canard


Boudin et Fuet catalan

AOC ROUSSILLON Banyuls & Banyuls Grand Cru Collioure Côtes du Roussillon Côtes du Roussillon Village Maury Tomme des Pyrénées Muscat de Rivesaltes Rivesaltes SUDDEFRANCE - 72 -


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Agneau de Lozère

Pélardon des Cévennes

Bleu des Causses AOC



Oignon doux des Cévennes

Châtaignes Tapenade Miels



Charcuterie Lozérienne





Olives Lucques

Olives Picholine



Brandade de Nîmes

Tapenade Melon PÉZENAS

Sel de Camargue



ARY Riz de Camargue


NARBONNE Petis pâtés de Pézenas

Huile d’olive

Gardianne de taureau

Huîtres de Bouzigues


Zézettes de Sète



Soupe de poisson

Tielles de Sète







The list of appellations and products can be found on

Abricots Anchois de Collioure Tomates


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A territory with a long agricultural and winegrowing tradition, Languedoc-Roussillon is also one of France’s top regions for fruit and vegetable production. Benefitting from an exceptional climate with plenty of sunshine, nature is generous here. Cherries, apricots, strawberries, peaches, apples, melons, are some of the traditional produce, as are asparagus, tomatoes, sweet onions, turnips, celery, artichokes, olives and green beans. Products that have created a philosophy of good living, expressed in the lively, colourful market halls, the choice of fresh produce in the shops and the tasty recipes.

Thebeatingheart ofregionalgastronomy



n a region like Languedoc-Roussillon, where agriculture and winegrowing are mainstays of economic activity, the role of market halls and outdoor markets is more than merely symbolic. Today, while outdoor markets continue to thrive, market halls (of which there are 14 in the region) more than ever concentrate regional products and reflect local gastronomic culture. Places to exchange, a far cry from the monotony of supermarkets, market halls express the terroir and the beating heart of a city. In Carcassonne, in a market hall that was partially built in the 18th century, twenty stallholders offer their products during the week and are joined by organic producers who set up their stalls outside the building on Saturdays. In Narbonne, the Halles Baltard, dating from 1901, is the emblematic site dis-

playing the expertise of local producers. Butchers, delicatessen and producers, poultry sellers, fishmongers, greengrocers, cheese makers, bakers and wine merchants rub shoulders (there are 70 stalls altogether) in the merry hubbub. In Béziers, thirty stallholders still sell their wares in the nostalgic but friendly atmosphere on Sunday mornings. Likewise, in Agde, the ten market stallholders do their utmost to attract the consumers and preserve the atmosphere of this market where you can buy your meat or cheese but also taste the oysters. In Frontignan, a dozen stallholders also keep the market hall alive in a seaside atmosphere. In Sète, good humour and quality products are on offer every morning with of course a special area for fish and seafood. In Lunel, the Sunday market is unique,


not in terms of size but for its goodnatured spirit and village atmosphere in addition to its quality products. In Montpellier, the Halles Castellane has wonderful stalls in the heart of the city, with 26 stallholders. Not far away, the Halles Laissac continues to assert its popular identity, like the colourful Quatre Saisons marketplace in La Paillade, with 40 stallholders. As for the Halles Jacques Cœur in the Antigone district, it plays the complementarity card, with several specialised stalls. In Alès, the market hall may not be as aesthetically pleasing, but it is very lively, with pride of place given to local Cévennes products among the 80 stalls. In Nîmes, the market hall is alive with friendly chatter, with people swapping recipes in the midst of the 75 market stalls, which really are the heart and soul of the city centre. ◗

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y Chick peas Beneath its appearance of a discreet little seed, the chick pea has followed the footsteps of mankind since the beginning of the domestication of plants. Originally from the Near East, the chick pea, planted from December to February before the harvest in summer, has spread throughout the Mediterranean Basin and the oldest cultivated chick pea – dated from 6800 B.C. was found in a cave in Hérault. The star of chick peas grows in Carlencas, in the high cantons of Hérault. However, this legume, which is a real concentration of nutrients rich in vegetal proteins, carbohydrates and minerals, in Aude near Castelnaudary and in Gard near Uzès. The village of Montaren-et-SaintMédiers also organises a chick pea festival, from June 5 to June 7, 2015. (Info:

Chick pea salad Soak them overnight in cold water with one teaspoon of bicarbonate of soda, rinse. Cook for 40 minutes, in cold water brought to boiling. Drain, let cool and season with parsley, chopped shallots and a wellmixed olive oil vinaigrette. (Recipe by Laurent Portal, from the Mas de Fontcouverte, in Saint-Jeande-Maruéjols).

Baked beans from Aude To make good baked beans for 4 people: 400 g of white beans, 400 g of pork shoulder, 100 g of pork rind, 4 slices of pork belly or salted bacon, 1 ham shank, 1 duck confit, 4 pork sausages, 1 or 2 cloves of garlic, 1 or 2 onions, 100 g of carrots, salt, pepper, cloves, thyme, a bay leaf and parsley. The day before, prepare a bouillon with the pork feet, shanks, rind and mixed herbs. Using duck fat, fry the pork shoulder cut into cubes. Add the garlic and the chopped onions, skim off the extra fat. Blanch the beans for 5 to 8 minutes. Drain the beans, mix them with the pork bouillon, the fried pork cubes, the rind, the garlic and chopped onion. Adjust the seasoning. Place the mixture in a casserole, add the sausages and the duck confit on the surface and put the casserole in the oven for an hour and a half. During cooking, sink the skin six or seven times and add water. Baked beans are usually prepared the day before. They should be re-heated for about an hour and a half to two hours in the oven at 150°C. (Recipe by Jean-Claude Rodriguez, from Château Saint-Martin in Carcassonne). SUDDEFRANCE - 75 -

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A plural territory, Languedoc-Roussillon is made up of a multitude of local areas which produce a vast range of products. Of course there are baked beans from Castelnaudary and Carcassonne, anchovies from Collioure, oysters from Leucate and Bouzigues, “Brandade” of cod from Nîmes, “Pélardon” cheese and sweet onions from Cévennes, to mention only the most well known. Today, talented chefs who are increasingly numerous (see pages 80-81) carry high the colours of a gourmet region.


Catalan cream 1 litre of milk - 8 eggs – Powdered sugar - Flour - 1 grated lemon - 1 stick of cinnamon - Salt Place the stick of cinnamon in the milk and bring it to a boil. Grate the lemon rind into a casserole, add the sugar (4 tablespoons), flour and egg yolks, beat them with a small beater until you obtain a foamy, white mix. Slowly pour in the milk and mix well. Put the casserole on the heat, cook slowly while stirring, then stop cooking when the cream has thickened. Pour the cream into a small mould, let cool. Sprinkle the sugar (3 tablespoons) over the surface of the cream and burn it with a red-hot poker.


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CatalanSnails Small grey snails - Salt/ Pepper Pepper - 500 g of Lard - Sausages Pork ribs - Catalan blood sausage Aïoli - Olive oil - Bread Fast the snails with twigs of thyme, mix them in a fine salt, pepper (3/4) and chili pepper (1/4). Cut the lard into little cubes, heat them on the grill until they melt and then leave them on the heat until you are ready. Prepare the aïoli: Crush the garlic, then pour the olive oil over it in a thin stream to blend it well.Thicken slowly. Refrigerate. Put the snails into the salt-pepperchilli mixture and arrange them close together on a snail grill. Cook them for 10 to 12 minutes over red-hot embers. Take the snails off the grill when the yellow liquid thickens. Pour a drop of melted lard on the bottom of each one. Spread the aïoli on the slices of bread. Place the snails on them and savour them with the pork ribs and sausages which accompany them.

Rouille à la sétoise

Mussel stew fromThau Serves 4: 2.5 kg of Mediterranean mussels (4 kg for a main dish) - 25 cl olive oil - Thyme Rosemary - Bay leaf sauce - 1 clove of garlic crushed - Pepper Pour the oil, the herbs and the garlic in a small bowl and marinate them for at least 24 hours. Ideally they should be prepared one week in advance. Light a wood fire or prepare a barbecue, in order to obtain red-hot embers. Then place the plaque on the embers and add the shellfish. When the shellfish open, throw out this first cooking juice. Then pour in the marinade and quickly finish cooking (2 minutes), taking care not to over-cook the mussels. Eat them freshly cooked and hot. A variation is to add a teaspoon of Pastis.

Serves 6 2 kg of squid - 1 can of tomato purée 3 carrots - 25 cl of white wine 1 glass of cognac 1 dose of saffron - 1 bouquet garni 1 egg yolk - 1 tablespoon of mustard 5 cloves of garlic for aioli - 2 onions Cut the squid into pieces. Mix the onions, peeled carrots and celery. Mix all well and fry in olive oil. Add the tomato puree, bouquet garni and saffron. Simmer for 10 minutes. Add squid and again allow to simmer for 10 minutes. Pour in the wine and cognac. Wait 10 minutes then add salt and pepper to taste. Cook for 10 minutes before stopping the heat source. Mount the garlic mayonnaise with 1 egg yolk, mustard, garlic slices, salt and pepper. Mount the rouille in a serving dish, incorporating some aioli, the remainder being served separately. Serve with white rice.

Cevennes sweet onion fritters 500 g Cevennes sweet onions PDO - 125 g chick pea flour - 1 dessert spoon sesame seeds ½ teaspoon spices of your choice - 1 pinch of salt - 1 dessert spoon finely chopped coriander 100 ml water Cut the onions in two and slice them. Mix with salt and put to one side for 5 minutes. Add the flour, sesame seeds, spices as well as the coriander and mix well. Add the water while continuing to mix until you get a thick batter. Heat your deep-fat fryer and fry the batter, a dessert spoon at a time for 5-6 minutes, turning them from time to time. When the fritters are golden brown, drain them on absorbent paper. Serve hot.


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Languedoc-Roussillon, anarea that isflourishing


he number of great restaurants is constantly increasing in this region, the savours and talents of which are being discovered. In 2015, the number of restaurants awarded one or several stars in the famous Michelin Guide, has increased again to 26. This year the Michelin Guide featured in the inner circle of great restaurants Serge Martinez, who previously worked in London and Las Vegas. The restaurant owners of Languedoc-Roussillon have, with hard work and dedication, been able to affirm their identity. Whether they are Jacques et Laurent Pourcel from Montpellier, starred by the Michelin Guide for over 25 years and unbeatable ambassadors

of the Mediterranean cuisine throughout the world, or Michel Kayser from Nîmes with his fine cuisine or the talented Lionel Giraud from Narbonne, not to mention the young chef Oscar Garcia from the Table d’Uzès, all carry high the colours of this land where the art of living is pronounced with an emphasis. It is not Gilles Goujon, the only 3-star chef of the region, the head of one of the most prestigious restaurants of France (25 threestar restaurants in France) in the locality of Fontjoncouse in the Corbières, who would say the opposite. This chef mad about flavours has lifted his establishment up into the firmament of French gastronomy. And what to say also of Franck Putelat from CarSUDDEFRANCE - 78 -

cassonne, winner of 2 stars? Or of Jérôme Nutile who, after winning 2 stars at Collias, has just opened his gastronomic restaurant in Nîmes with the ambition of making his stoves gleam again with trophies of excellence from Michelin? They are the ambassadors of this region in perpetual motion, with the Boyers, the Majourels, the Attrazics, the Lefebvres, the Chenets and the Borrells who are their worthy colleagues. Also helped by restaurants that are not in the firmament but just as respectable, winners of these “Bib gourmand” which are a witness of a strong relationship with the client, he who, for a luncheon or an evening, becomes king of the world. ◗

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Chef : Fabien Galibert 11600 Aragon


Chef : Gérald Garcia 11400 La Pomarède


Chef : Jérôme Ryon 11000 Carcassonne




Chef : Philippe Deschamps 11000 Carcassonne






Chef : Franck Putelat 11000 Carcassonne







The number of gourmet restaurants is increasing in this region, where tastes and talents are being discovered all the time.













Chef : Fabien Lefebvre 34500 Béziers

• AUBERGE DU VIEUX PUITS Chef : Gilles Goujon 11360 Fontjoncouse



Chef : Jean-Marc Boyer 11600 Lastours


Chef : Lionel Giraud 11100 Narbonne


Chef : Daniel Minet 11170 Pezens


• KLIM & CO*

Chef : Alexandre Klimenko 11370 Leucate


Chef : Pascal Borrell 66650 Banyuls


Chef : Laurent Lemal 66720 Bélesta

• L’AUBERGE DU CELLIER* Chef : Pierre-Louis Marin 66720 Montner


Chef : Christophe Comes 66000 Perpignan


Chef : Fréderic Bacquie 66190 Collioure


Chef : Matthieu de Lauzun 34150 Gignac


Chefs : Jacques et Laurent Pourcel 34000 Montpellier


Chef : Charles Fontès 34000 Montpellier


Chef : Pascal Sanchez 34000 Montpellier


Chef : Anne Majourel 34200 Sète

Chef : Michel Kayser 30128 Garons Chef : Serge Chenet 30131 Pujaut


Chef : Fabien Fage 30400 Villeneuve-lès-Avignon


Chef : Oscar Garcia 30700 Uzès


Chef : Cyril Attrazic 48130 Aumont-Aubrac

*Labelled “Tourisme Sud de France

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84/87 NATURE









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As little as fifty years ago, the limestone plateaus and dunes of the LanguedocRoussillon, were little known and largely untamed. Today – the region, which has retained its natural character, has become an almost unrivalled holiday destination. As well as its generous range of traditional hotels and bed & breakfast, the region boasts a number of high class establishments – which make up the exclusive “Cercle Prestige” – where the quality of service is on a par with the beauty of their settings. This part of Southern France also boasts a number of high class, luxury spas offering thalassotherapy and body treatments. One of the aspects that go to make this region so authentic is the vibrant cultural identity that is reflected in a respect for tradition. A thriving arts and crafts culture, together with some magical festivals at incredible venues, such as the city of Carcassonne or the Nîmes amphitheatre, has made Languedoc-Roussillon synonymous with creativity and celebration. Finally, for those who like to let off steam, there are a wide range of activities to choose from: kite-surfing, golf, canoeing and sailing, to name but a few!

For more information, scan this QR code with your Smartphone or connect directly on:


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Cycling: On mountain-bikes or family-style Languedoc-Roussillon is a land of predilection for amateurs of mountain-bikes where physical effort accompanies beautiful landscapes. In terms of mountain-bike sites, the region is ranked second in France, with 26 areas marked out, offering 280 routes and totalling over 6,000 kilometres! And every year new routes are traced out: Thus the routes of Saint-Chély-d’Apcher and Saint-Chinian were added to those of Cabardès, of the Massif de la Clape, of the country of Lunel, of Canigou, etc. In addition, Languedoc-Roussillon is one of the rare areas to offer a cross-country route of over 500 kilometres across Hérault from Larzac, by way of Salagou and the surrounding areas of Pézenas. However, cycling can also be a family activity, owing to the green ways which, when finalised, will total 1,100 km of secured routes. They make it possible to get to the beaches in complete safety, by going around a lagoon (Green Way in Lez, Montpellier-Palavas, 6 km), and following a canal in the shade of the plane trees (from Carcassonne to Trèbes, 14 km). Others hug the coast, while that of Narbonne at Port-la-Nouvelle (22 km) goes along the canals, while that from Sète to Marseillan-beach (6 km) takes you to the sea. Inland, they cross orchards and vineyards and start a discovery of Petite Camargue (from Vauvert to Aigues-Mortes, 10 km) or take you to charming villages (the green way of Agly, 14 km) without losing sight of the Corbières (8 km). The longest, which is the green way of Haut-Languedoc, “Passa Païs”, accumulates nearly 80 kilometres laid out along an old railway between Bédarieux and Saint-Pons-deThomières.

Tourism isanadventure! With over 300 days of sunshine per year, it’s nice to live outside in Languedoc-Roussillon. So why not take advantage of them to discover new sensations in the sunshine.


n or under firm ground, on the water or n the air, the possibilities offered are almost limitless. If course you can discover Cévennes or the Catalan Pyrenees by the Via Ferrata. It requires a little experience SUDDEFRANCE - 84 -

in climbing. Potholing is another possibility offered, notably in Lozère. Canyoning, which is conducted from April to September in water that is sometimes cold, is also a physical activity which allows for new discoveries. At Port-Camargue or near Carnon, some will want to test out flyboarding, which, with a jet propulsion pack projects you out of the water and several meters up into the air. Others prefer bungee jumping from a cliff or a bridge as is done in Mende and Béziers. However, you can also be happy with a safari photo in the unbelievable landscapes of Petite Camargue in 4x4 vehicles especially equipped for crossing lagoons. In Languedoc-Roussillon, the exception is the rule. ◗

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Rafting,canyoningorcanoeing, youarealwaysinthewater Fans of aquatic sports can choose from a maze of lakes, rivers and rapids of the region: canoeing-kayaking,rafting, canyoning,potholing… To each his paddle!


ot to be missed in the region:the Gorges du Tarn, a refreshing destination in the summer. The hiking canoe has for long been the most popular activity. And the back-country is full of rivers and rapids. Families seek the refreshing tranquillity of the high mountain lakes of Naussac in Lozère or the Salagou Lake in Hérault. Or you may prefer these cool rivers:the Gardon near Uzès, or the Gorges de l’Hérault starting from Ganges (Gard) up to Saint-Guilhem-leDésert (Hérault); the river of the people of Hérault is a paradise for the bobbing canoes

The Paddle Phenomenon In a few years, the stand-up paddle, literally a paddle-board – an aquatic sliding sport derived from surfing – has conquered thousands of fans. Standing on a stable board on which you can advance with a paddle, the paddle board is a safe, pleasant way of getting around in the water. Many nautical centres now offer paddle-boards but in addition it has become a sport and also a tool for visitors to discover! In Languedoc-Roussillon, it is practised from Espiguette to Argelès but also on the lagoons and lakes such as Salagou. You can even do this in a river, notably on the River Gardon near Collias.

in the green waters along the rocks – compact Jurassic limestone banks, where bathers come to bask in the sunshine. However, amateurs of more sporty sensations will prefer a white water trip: be careful, some rivers, subject to torrential flows, are accessible only to wary or trained paddlers! The mixed techniques of canyoning, which combines potholing, diving and climbing to navigate the white water, are some of the new disciplines that are popular with sportsmen. However you can also do rafting, hydro-speeding or swimming in these living white waters.

If Lozère, often called the “water tower” of France, offers several renowned rivers (the Tarn, the Lot, the Allier), each department is a destination in itself. In Gard, the navigable rivers are concentrated in Cèze, Vidourle and Gardon. In Hérault, the River Hérault and the River Orb are very choice destinations. The River Aude offers sportsmen several sections of rivers, while in the Eastern Pyrenees, paddlers concentrate on two coastal rivers: the Tech and the Tet. In addition, the Gorges du Llech in this Department are ideal for white water rafting. ◗

The mountains in summer,a privilege to savour The mountain resorts offer a multitude of activities in an environment to which the flourishing vegetation gives a dishevelled, invigorating beauty to Bolquères-Pyrénées 2000, in the heart of the Regional Nature Park of the Catalan Pyrenees, hikes along the lakes offer, in addition to a unique panorama, the opportunity to observe the mountain fauna, – wild goats, mountain sheep, woodchucks and bearded vultures – and also to go paragliding, canyoning and rafting. Two steps away from the beaches, the Espace Cambre d’Aze also invites you for more low-key sports: fishing and potholing, not to mention bathing in the hot springs at Llo and Saint-Thomas. Lake Belcaire, at the resort of CaSUDDEFRANCE - 85 -

murac in Aude, is ideal for bathing as are the lakes at Villeneuve-de-la-Raho and Bouillouses. In Cévennes, the resort Bleymard-Mont-Lozère is an ideal place to take the road followed by RobertLouis Stevenson who, in 1878, rode nearly 252 kilometres on his donkey. This long hiking trail (GR70) which takes you past the summits of Mount Lozère, through Gévaudan country and into the Valleys of Cévennes can be done on foot or on horseback and in sections. The thermal resorts for relaxation, the benefits of mountain spring water and the gastronomy which is full of specialties, also guarantee the pleasures which make for successful holidays.

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Asea toexplore above andbelow! With its 25 recreational harbours and many scuba diving facilities to explore the rich undersea environment, the region is totally dedicated to the Mediterranean.


he Mediterranean and the Gulf of Lion bathe Languedoc-Roussillon and offer a vast ‘playing field’ for sailors. Changing winds, sunshine the year round, warm water in summer, Languedoc-Roussillon is sailing country, with 25 recreational harbours and 22,000 mooring spots, including Port-Camargue, the largest in Europe. Sailboat and motorboat rental, with or without skipper, harbour facilities adapted to pleasure craft, tourist activities available at ports of call, organised races in summer and winter, boat shows, national and international sporting events, the presence of great navigators – so many assets make

Languedoc-Roussillon a seafarers’ land. You can go scuba diving in search of sea bass, mullet, cuttlefish, octopus, lobster, or seahorses, with the thousands of other species populating the depths. The Côte Vermeille – especially with the Banyuls-Cerbère marine reserve – is well known to divers, but there are other sites to explore: the rocky strip of La GrandeMotte, the stretches off Espiguette, or the Tables off Cap d’Agde. Introduction to diving or exploration, there’s something for everyone on this ‘Mare Nostrum’, as the Romans called it. And those who “simply” want to swim will have the privilege of swimming in a sea whose quality of water is perfect. Every season, some 3000 samples are taken at 300 sites. With 95 certified beaches in 27 communes, Languedoc-Roussillon, in 2013, was the region with the highest number of bathing areas benefitting from the “Blue Flag” in France. This label is awarded to beaches with satisfactory standards of water quality, infrastructure, sand maintenance, safety and prohibition of animals. ◗ SUDDEFRANCE - 86 -

When the wind blows... They’re a signature of our beaches: the multi-coloured wings of kite surfers. The origin of the sport is difficult to determine, but the first prototypes emerged from the water in this region around 1996. Now France has 50,000 enthusiasts, of whom about 5,000 enjoy their pastime on our beaches. Their favourite spots are the magnificent beach at Espiguette, PortCamargue, Carnon, Palavas, Aresquiers, Cap d’Agde, and Sète, together with La Franqui a little farther on. The only restriction on this practice is the arrival of bathers in the summer. But for the past few years there have been zones specifically set aside for kite surfing: Villeneuve-lèsMaguelone, Espiguette, and marked zones from Grand Travers (La Grande-Motte) to Saint-Cyprien in the Pyrénées-Orientales.

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Golfcoursesfor prosand amateurs













With around twenty regional league golf courses, the Languedoc-Roussillon has much to offer for both amateurs and professionals of this sport.


riginating in Scotland, this increasingly popular game will be included in the 2016 Olympic Games in Rio. Practised by those who enjoy outdoor activities and contact with nature, its rules and techniques require discipline, concentration and relaxation. Although the game itself is played on a well-defined terrain, its surrounding environment is of huge importance. A 6 to 8 kilometre walk around the fairways, in a magical setting – in good weather, certainly makes all the difference. In addition to these basic conditions which go to make the game so enjoyable, no two golf courses are the same... At Carcassonne, for example, situated at the feet of the mediaeval city, you can take in a panoramic view of the Pyrenees and the Black Mountain; and play one of the most original holes in Europe (the number 9). Designed by the architects Morandi & Harradine, the Nîmes Campagne course is reputed for the difficulty of its greens and




narrow fairways which are lined by a variety of trees. Cap d’Agde golf is a demanding course which winds along the shoreline; through olive trees, palm trees and umbrella pines. In Cévennes in Lozère, near the Gorges du Tarn and the Gorges de l’Aubrac, the golf course of La Canourgue, guarantees, in an environment of valleys and woods, the pleasure of a technical course with its narrow fairways and its many slopes. It’s impossible to swing with your feet flat on the golf course at Font-Romeu which offers unprecedented game situations set in postcard scenery, with the peaks of the Pyrenees against the blue Mediterranean sky! Or there is the Domaine de Falgos - also in the Eastern Pyrenees. It is amongst the most beautiful courses and you will discover some breathtaking scenery and a challenging game. The diverse mixture of our courses - those along the shoreline, the Lozére landscapes or those at high altitude in the Pyrenees - attracts an increasing number of enthusiasts each year from both France and abroad. ◗ SUDDEFRANCE - 87 -

• Carcassonne. 18 holes - par 71 5 758 m. Tél. • Narbonne Sainte Rose. Training centre and golf course “Pitch & Putt” with 18 holes - 1 200 m. Tél. • Nîmes Campagne. 6 135 m 18 holes - par 72. Tél. • Golf de Nîmes Vacquerolle 18 holes - par 72 - 6 185 m Tél. GARD • Cap d'Agde. 18 holes - par 72 6 279 m. Tél. • Coulondres (Saint-Gély-du-Fesc). 18 holes - par 73 - 6 149 m Tél. • Fontcaude. 18 holes - par 6 250 m. Tél. • La Grande-Motte. 18 holes - par 72 6 200 m et 18 holes - par 58 - 3 200 m. Tél. • Montpellier. Massane. 18 holes par 72 - 6 081 m. Tél. • Saint-Thomas (Béziers). 18 holes par 72 - 6 131 m. Tél. • Golf Course of the Gorges du Tarn La Canourgue. 18 holes – par 71 – 5,452 m. Tel. +33(0)4 66 32 84 17 • Falgos Golf Resort (St-Laurentde-Cerdans) 18 holes - par 70 - 5 177 m Tél. • Saint-Cyprien. 18 holes - par 73 6 475 m. Tél. • Alès Ribaute. 6 holes - par 19 1 000 m. Tél. • Uzès. 9 holes - par 36, 2 955 m. Tél. • Lamalou-les-Bains. Golf de 9 holes - par 35 2 600 m. Tél. • Domaine de Barres (Langogne). Golf 9 holes - par 36 - 2 700 m. Tél. • La Garde-Guérin (Villefort) 9 holes - par 32 - 1 864 m. Tél. • Font-Romeu. 9 holes - par 36 2 517 m. Tél. • Montescot (Perpignan) 9 holes par 36 - 3 027 m. Tél.


Ligue de Golf du Languedoc-Roussillon. Tél.

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This fine arts museum of Montpellier, is renowned for its collection of works by Courbet and its room dedicated to Pierre Soulages. 39, bd Bonne-Nouvelle, 34000 Montpellier. Tel. +33 (0)4 67 14 83 00.

Musée Fleury

FromFauvism to theArt Modeste movement Collioure, Sète, and Céret have influenced major artists, notably members of the Fauvism movement. But the relationship between art and the region doesn’t stop there. LanguedocRoussillon is the refuge of many creators.


oussillon was the laboratory of modern painting, with Picasso, Braque, Max Jacob, Soutine, and Chagall, and a temple of sculpture thanks to Maillol. The shores of Hérault inspired Gustave Courbet – worldfamous for his “L’Origine du Monde” – and, more light-heartedly, Albert Dubout cartooned the town of Palavas. In the 1960s, the originators of the Supports/Surfaces movement (which accords equal importance to the materials, the act of creation, and the finished work) often came from this region: Viallat, Dezeuze, Devade, and Dolla Bioulès contributed largely to the demystification of the artistic object. The region’s most famous artist at work today is doubtless Pierre Soulages (photo), who divides his time between Paris and Sète. His monochrome works, all based on the reflection of light and the varying surface effects of black paint, designated by the term “Outre-noir” (Beyond Black), were exhibited at the Centre Georges-Pom-

pidou in Paris and the Hermitage in Saint Petersburg before, in 2007, Montpellier’s Musée Fabre devoted a room to him after his donation to the city of twenty of his works. Anselm Kiefer, the famous creator of monumental sculptors, at one time had his studio in Barjac, Gard. Sophie Calle, whose mission as an artist consists of making her life, particularly its most intimate moments, her work, using all possible media, loves to recharge her batteries at Cailar in Petite Camargue. And, of course, the Figuration Libre movement – which exploded in the 1980s with rock’n’roll or Arab-inflected works, painting deliberately “crude” when not actually part of the Bad Painting movement (see Julian Schnabel) – although born in Nice, settled in this region. Hervé Di Rosa, born in Sète, further developed this movement by creating Art Modeste, which for the past thirteen years has had its own international museum, MIAM, in Sète. There are so many vibrant artists whose works are to be found in the region’s museums: Nîmes’ Carré d’Art, Sérignan’s Musée d’Art Contemporain, Céret’s Musée d’Art Moderne, not to mention Montpellier’s Musée Fabre and Lodève’s Musée Fleury. Today, new talents are emerging in Languedoc-Roussillon. Thus, the photographer Catherine Gfeller, the plastic artist Audrey Martin and TTY-Art exhibit their works in the many galleries and contemporary art centres which punctuate the region of Collioure at Aigues-Mortes, from Nîmes to Carcassonne by way of Narbonne, Perpignan, Béziers or Nîmes. ◗ SUDDEFRANCE - 88 -

Works by Braque, Caillebotte, Léger and frequent exhibitions. Currently under renovation, the museum is nevertheless planning to hold an outdoor exhibition in the summer. Square Georges-Auric - Lodève. Tel. +33 (0)4 67 88 86 10.

Regional Contemporary Art Centre*

Exhibition of the works of young designers of the region. Visit to the workshop for children every Friday. Closed from May 31 to June 26, 2015. Closed on Tuesdays. 26, quai Aspirant Herbet - Sète. Tel. +33 (0)4 67 74 94 37.

International Museum of Modest Arts The MIAM is an entertaining museum, displaying works of contemporary creation from the fifties till today. 23, quai Maréchal de Lattre de Tassigny Sète. Tel. +33 (0)4 99 04 76 44.

Musée Fayet

Nineteenth century and modern art (Chirico, Soutine, Dufy). 9, rue du Capus - Béziers. Tel. +33 (0)4 67 49 04 66.

Regional Museum of Contemporary Art*

Creations from the sixties to today. 146, av de la Plage - Sérignan. Tel. +33 (0)4 67 32 33 05

Fine Arts Museum

In particular works of the Italian and Flemish masters. Closed on Mondays. Rue de la Cité Foulc - Nîmes. Tel. +33 (0)4 66 28 18 32 -

Musée PAB

Modern art collection of Pierre-A. Benoit. 52, montée des Lauriers - Alès. Tel. +33 (0)4 66 86 98 69.

Carré d’Art

Over 400 works from the sixties till today in this museum of contemporary art. Closed on Mondays. 16, place de la Maison-Carrée - Nîmes. Tel. +33 (0)4 66 76 35 70 -

Modern Art Museum

Nearly 200 works by artists who painted scenes from Collioure. Closed from May 28 to June 5 Route de Port-Vendres - Collioure. Tel. +33 (0)4 68 82 10 19.

Musée Maillol

Fruit of the donation by Dina Vierny, this museum is dedicated to the sculptor Maillol. Closed on Mondays. Vallée de la Roume - Banyuls-sur-Mer. Tel. +33 (0)4 68 88 57 11.

Contemporary Art Space

Dedicated to the Catalan artist Josep PuigMarti. Place de Catalogne - Bourg-Madame. Tel. +33 (0)4 68 30 11 60.

Modern Art Museum of Céret

A beautiful collection from the artistic movements of the South of France: Bioulès, Daniel Dezeuze, Claude Viallat, etc. 8, Bd Maréchal-Joffre - Céret. Tel. +33 (0)4 68 87 27 76. *Labelled “Tourisme Sud de France”

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From May 14 to 16 - Le Bleymard (Lozère)



When I think about Fernande

From June 9 to 13 - Sète (Hérault)

Voix de Femmes

From June 12 to 13 - Maury (Eastern Pyrenees)

Uzès Dance Festival

From June 12 to 20 - Uzès (Gard)

Festival of the Crime Novel

From June 22 to 28 - Frontignan (Hérault)

Montpellier Dance Festival

From June 24 to July 9 - Montpellier (Hérault)

Nîmes Festival

From June 24 to July 26 - Nîmes (Gard)

Marguerite Festival

From 4 to 11 July - Aigues-Mortes (Gard)

Worldwide Festival in Sète

From July 6 to 12 - Sète (Hérault)

Festival of Carcassonne

From 6 July to 1 August - Carcassonne (Aude)

Festival Radio France

From 9 to 25 July 2015 - Montpellier (Hérault)


From July 10 to 12 - Port Barcarès (P.-O.)

Les Déferlantes d’Argelès

From July 10 to 17 - Argelès-sur-Mer (P.-O.)

Jazz in Sète

From 13 to 19 July 2015 - Sète (Hérault)

Music and History Festival

From July 15 to 19 - Fontfroide Abbey (Aude)

Festival of Thau

From July 15 to 23 - Mèze (Hérault)

Détours du monde

From July 16 to 18 - Chanac (Lozère)

Jazz in Junas

From 17 to July 25 - Junas (Gard)

Uzès Nights of Music

From 21 July to 2 August - Uzès (Gard)

Transes from Cévennes

From July 25 to 26 - Sumène (Gard)

Songs with lyrics

From July 25 to 30 - Barjac (Gard)

Pablo Casals Festival

From 26 July to 13 August - Prades (P.-O.)

Jazz Festival in Hospitalet

From 29 July to 1 August - Carcassonne (Aude)

Flamenco Festival Week

From August 17 to 22 - Rivesaltes (P.-O.)

Siteofmany cultures A land rich in history, Languedoc-Roussillon has preserved a multiplicity of traditions and cultures, enriched by the contributions of artists living in and inspired by the region.


rom the famous Carnival of Limoux – the world’s longest – to the Festival of the Bear in Vallespir, by way of Camargue's festivals, sardane, corridas, water-jousts, and of course grape harvest festivals, the region is rich in traditional celebrations, sometimes hundreds of years old. In this rebellious region, popular festivals were also, for a long time, a way of affirming identity and resisting centralised power. Combining legend, folklore, religion, and important moments of the peasant life of yesteryear, these festivals and traditions SUDDEFRANCE - 89 -

remain lively and welcoming. This is especially the case for festivals of totem animals representing a community, which take place in Villeveyrac, Mèze, Loupian, Pézenas, and Bessan. Although they take place throughout the year, the majority of these events are held in warm weather. This is the case for the Fête de la Saint-Louis at Aigues-Mortes, the Fête de la Saint-Pierre, with its celebrated water-jousts, at Sète, the oyster festival at Bouzigues, the Fête du Babau at Rivesaltes, the wickerwork festival at Vallabrègues, not to mention the many votive festivals punctuating the summer. ◗ • Catalan Festival in Nîmes (Gard): from May 20 to 25 and from September 16 to 20, 2015 • Catalan Festival in Céret (Eastern Pyrenees): from July 11 to 12, 2015 • Catalan Festival in Béziers (Hérault): from August 13 to 16, 2015

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Languedoc-Roussillon, a real film set With a wealth of protected and atypical places, the region presents many settings which are appealing for the cinema. And this is not new.


rom Swords of Blood (Cartouche) to Days of Glory (Indigènes) by way of the Story of O (Histoire d’O), films with scenes that were shot in the region are countless. In “The Man who loved women” (L’homme qui aimait les femmes), the cult film of 1976, François Truffaut pays tribute to women and to Montpellier and even asserts that the most beautiful women in France are to be found there.

“Wages of Fear” in Anduze, “Betty Blue” in Gruissan Other films that are not to be missed were made between the fifties and seventies such as The Wages of Fear (Le salaire de la peur) set in the bamboo garden of Anduze, The Sucker (Le corniaud) with Bourvil and Louis de Funès set in Carcassonne, Hunter will get you (L’Alpagueur) with Jean-Paul Belmondo set inside the Lydia in Port-Barcarès and The French Calvinists (Les camisards) set in Florac. Everyone remembers the beach huts of Gruissan in Betty Blue (37°2 le matin) and the Château de Puivert in The Passion of Beatrice (La passion Béatrice) and The Ninth Gate (La neuvième porte). The visitor cannot be unaware that scenes from Cyrano de Bergerac were shot at Uzès and the film The Visitors (Les Visiteurs) was shot partly in Car-

cassonne, just like Robin Hood: Prince of Thieves (Robin des Bois prince des voleurs).

Films and increasingly more series Two films shot in the Region – Age of Uprising in Aujac and Lozère and Suzanne between Alès and Sète – won Cesar awards in 2014 while the actress in Respire, Lou de Laâge, a film by Mélanie Laurent, received the 2015 Cesar award for the most promising actor for her interpretation in this film shot in Hérault. Conscious of this rich heritage, in 2006 communities created the Languedoc-Roussillon Cinéma, an organisation to provide facilities and assistance for shooting feature films, television films or short films, which has made it possible for the Region to host 43 shootings in 2012 and 13 feature films in 2013. This choice enhances the image of the region of course – these services spend much time on presenting original and unique settings – and also to bring about economic benefits. In addition, the region is becoming a choice area for shooting television series, such as Candice Renoir, a series on the France 2 channel where Sète has been the setting for the last four years and Lock, Stock and Two Smoking Barrels, which was shot near Montpellier in 2014. If The Maze Runner can only increase the international renown of Carcassonne, the sequences of the films by Tony Gatlif (Geronimo) shot in Perpignan or the most recent feature film by Luc Besson (Lucy) with Scarlett Johansson and his scenes at Sainte-Enimie make you want to discover this region of contrasts! ◗ SUDDEFRANCE - 90 -

AUDE (11)


Film director: Claude Chabrol - 1993 With: Emmanuelle Béart, François Cluzet


Film director: Gérard Oury - 1964 With: Bourvil, Louis de Funès


Film director: Kevin Reynolds - 1991 With: Kevin Costner, Morgan Freeman


Film director: Jean-Marie Poiré - 1993 With: Christian Clavier, Jean Reno


Film director: Christopher Smith (série) 2011. With: Tom Felton, Jessica Brown Findlay


• 37°2 LE MATIN

Film director: Jean-Jacques Beineix 1986. With: Béatrice Dalle, Jean-Hugues Anglade

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Film director: Robert Dhéry - 1967 With: Louis de Funès, Pierre Tornade



Film director: Bertrand Tarvernier 1987. With: Bernard-Pierre Donnadieu, Julie Delpy


Film director: Roman Polanski - 1999 With: Jonnhy Depp, Lena Olin, Emmanuelle Seigner



Film director: Tony Gatlif - 2013 With: Céline Salette, Raphaël Personnaz


Film director: Philippe Labro - 1976 With: Jean-Paul Belmondo, Bruno Cremer


Film director: Alain Chabat - 1997 With: Jean-Pierre Bacri, Alain Chabat


Film director: Louis-Pascal Couvelaire et Roger Simonsz (Série) - 2011 With: Anne Le Nen, Bruno Todeschini


Film director: Raphaël Frydman 2014. With: Rémi Gaillard



Film director: Nicole Garcia - 1990

With: Nathalie Baye, Joachim Serreau




Film director: Philippe Lioret - 2010 With: Vincent Lindon, Marie Gillain


Film director: Christophe Douchant 2012 (série). With: Cécile Bois, Raphaël Lenglet

GARD (30)

With: Jean-Paul Rouve, Marie Gilain, Roschdy Zem


Film director: Abdellatif Kechiche 2007. With: Habib Boufares, Hafsia Herri

Film director: Nicole Garcia - 2012 With: Louise Bourgoin, Pierre Rochefort




Film director: Philippe de Broca 1961. With: Jean-Paul Belmondo, Claudia Cardinale


Film director: Mélanie Laurent - 2013 With: Isabelle Carré, Claire Keim


Film director: Marc Fitoussi - 2011 With: Sandrine Kiberlain, Audrey Lamy



Film director: Leos Carax - 1991 With: Denis Lavant, Juliette Binoche


Film director: Bertrand Blier - 1991 With: Anouk Grinberg, Gérard Depardieu, Michel Blanc




Film director: Bertrand Blier - 2010 With: Jean Dujardin, Albert Dupontel, Anne Alvaro



Film director: Steve Bendelack - 2007 With: Rowan Atkinson, Emma de Caunes



Film director: Robert Altman - 1991 With: Tim Roth, Paul Rhys



Film director: Agnès Varda - 1985 With: Sandrine Bonnaire, Macha Méril


Film director: Claude Lelouch - 1992 With: Gérard Lanvin, Béatrice Dalle


Film director: Just Jeackin - 1976

With: Corinne Cléry

Film director: Arnaud des Pallières 2012. With: Mads Mikkelsen, David Bennent



Film director: François Truffaut - 1977 With: Charles Denner, Brigitte Fossey

Film director: Alain Resnais - 1983 With: Pierre Arditi, Sabine Azéma







Film director: José Giovanni - 1972 With: Alain Delon, Jean Gabin


Film director: Henri-Georges Clouzot 1952. With: Charles Vanel, Yves Montand



Film director: Rachid Bouchareb 2006. With: Jamel Debbouze, Samy Naceri



Film director: Edouard Molinaro 1973. With: Lino Ventura, Jacques Brel



Film director: Pierre Jolivet - 2008


Film director: Jean-Paul Rappeneau 1995. With: Juliette Binoche, Olivier Martinez

Film director: Jacques Rivette - 1991 With: Michel Piccoli, Jane Birkin, Emmanuelle Béart






Film director: José Alcala, Olivier Gorce - 2010 With: Catherine Frot, Tchéky Karyo





Film director: Katelle Quilévéré 2013. Sara Forestier, Adèle Haenel


Film director: Claude Chabrol - 2008 With: Gérard Depardieu, Clovis Cornillac


Film director: Eric Lavaine, 2013 With: Florence Foresti, Franck Dubosc, Lambert Wilson


Film director: Alain Chabat - 2003 With: Marina Foïs, Jean-Paul Rouve



Film director: Jean-Paul Rappeneau 1989. With: Gérard Depardieu, Jacques Weber



Film director: René Allio - 1970 Philippe Clevenot, Gérard Desarthe


Film director: Luc Besson With: Morgan Freeman

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Maderight here! Crafts are the heart of the region, heritage and identity that they transcend. In this area, Languedoc-Roussillon is well endowed.


f there’s one part of heritage that is full of life, this is it. Because crafts, whose history and origin may be lost in the past, are the guarantors of memory and continuity. Whether as a stonemason like Frédéric Matan, awarded the title Meilleur Ouvrier de France (best craftsman in France) working in Pouget (Hérault) and reproducing gestures that go back for millennia, or by carrying on the traditional ways of making hayforks in Sauve or “boutis”, fabric that is embroidered using a technique commonly used in the Petite Camargue, these skills are all part of the charm of the region. In many villages in Capcir, the Cévennes or the valleys of the Aude,

crafts are still alive and are increasingly practised by young, dynamic artisans keen to transmit their skills and passion. But new interpretations can also emerge, such as Catalan garnet jewellery (where garnet jewellery production is listed as living heritage), the work of ceramists in Montpellier or Saint-Quentin-la-poterie (Gard) or the chainmail chandeliers made by Philippe Montels in Agde (Hérault). Some crafts have even developed into high quality activities that enhance the notoriety of the area. This is true of the glasswork of Claret (Hérault) or the stringed instrument and bow making workshops of Montpellier. Sometimes even, as with Vigatanes (Catalan espadrilles) or the woven fabric of Toiles du Soleil (Pyrénées-Orientales), craft lovers have managed to successfully revive an activity that had almost disappeared. Today, Toiles du Soleil even has a shop in Paris and exports worldwide. In Aude, the desire to communicate these talents may even lead to setting up a craftsmen’s village in Carcassonne in a few years. ◗ SUDDEFRANCE - 92 -

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Thalassotherapy andSpatorevive theBody

Modern andVariedThermalTreatments

In a complicated world, taking care of oneself has become a necessity. There are many establishments in LanguedocRoussillon, which provide an opportunity to travel and to enjoy a beauty break.


tress, poor posture, inopportune exertion… there are multiple causes. With targeted care and specific modelling, our new treatment “Well-being for the back” offers an antidote for pain”, explained the manager of the Thalasso-spa Centre at the Pink Flamingos Grand Hotel in Canet-en-Roussillon. This establishment has offered thalassotherapy and spa treatments for several years, in an environment which combines relaxation and comfort. New treatments are added regularly. In Languedoc-Roussillon, thalassotherapy and body treatments are part of a rapidly-developing tourist sector. Many spas offer special treats using clays, algae, muds, shea butter, honey, argan oil and even plant powders. Whether they are equipped with a swim spa, a Jacuzzi or a sauna, these centres – like the very luxurious one at the Domaine de Verchant on the outskirts of Montpellier and the Centre Thalazur Port-Camargue in Grau-du-Roi which has just undergone refurbishment– aim to improve well-being, using traditional sculpting treatments, shiatsu

Since last winter, patients have been discovering the brand-new facilities of the “New Thermal Establishment” which opened at Balaruc-les-Bains on the banks of the lagoon of Thau. “With these new facilities, Balaruc will rise to the highest level of thermal treatments”, the Mayor announced during the inauguration. The centre is undoubtedly at the forefront of modernity, with eight treatment zones, 1,000 m2 of pools adapted for phlebology and rheumatology treatments. With its 45,000 professional staff, this is the largest French thermal centre. In total, Languedoc-Roussillon has no less than 13 thermal spa resorts. Therapeutic in their own right, thermal treatments are appreciated by patients for their natural properties, which can be both preventative and curative. In the last decade, traditional medical treatments have been supplemented by general wellness and relaxation treatments. Massage rooms, cosmetic treatments, clay baths, whirlpools and saunas are there to meet the expectations of a new clientele in search of comfort and pleasure, in an enchanting landscape. In the Eastern Pyrenees, Le Boulou combines thermal treatments and tourism in a resort surrounded by the Mediterranean scrubland. The Prats-de-Mollola-Preste resort combines thermal treatments with the discovery of nature and the art of the Catalan country. In the Aude valley, the Rennes-les-Bains resort has been dedicated to thermal treatments since Antiquity. Its traditions have been enriched in an area dedicated to keeping in shape and another area dedicated to beauty treatments. In Hérault, more than 15 springs are spread out along the geological fault, which crosses the valley of Lamalou-les-Bains into the heart of the Parc Naturel Régional du Haut-Languedoc. Still within the park, Avène-les-Bains owes its reputation to its specialisation in dermatology. In Lozère, La Chaldette welcomes clients to the Aubrac plateau. In addition to these thermal spa resorts, there are many high-quality thalassotherapy centres in La Grande-Motte, Banyuls and Canet-en-Roussillon.

techniques, plant reflexology or Ayurvedic massage based on the principles of traditional Indian philosophy. Several exotic hammams (Turkish baths), such as the “Spice Bath” in Montpellier and “Energy Source” in Nîmes, give women a chance to experience an ancient beauty and relaxation rite, in a chic environment, whilst SUDDEFRANCE - 93 -

enjoying a cup of mint or spiced tea. You can also experience the thermal spas, which use natural hot springs, like those in Molitgles-Bains. Whether you are looking for serenity or revitalisation, whether you are focusing on relaxation, losing weight or simply getting in shape, the wellness experience is easily attainable! ◗

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Amade-to-measureholiday ◗

From picturesque hotels to refined holiday homes, with off-the-beaten track locations and a warm, attentive welcome, accommodation quality makes every guest a special guest.


lassic or luxurious, Languedoc-Roussillon’s accommodations are beyond cavil. With a vast and varied territory including both the shore of the Gulf of Lion and the green valleys inland, LanguedocRoussillon has countless superb sites representing local art de vivre. Here, there's no need to look elsewhere. Above all, accommodations are extremely varied. A stay in a holiday gîte will delight visitors who want a family atmosphere in a traditional cottage or outbuilding, tastefully decorated by its hosts, privileged ambassadors of the terroir. By the sea, vacation villages or hotels with all the conveniences are an ideal solution for enjoying both the beach and modern

facilities like a pool, spa, and gym. Guaranteed by the ‘Qualité Sud de France’ label, these establishments let you drop your suitcase and enjoy a carefree holiday in the region. On the other hand, over fifty establishments selected for their exceptional features form the Cercle Prestige, established by Sud de France Développement for luxury tourism. There are a constellation of possibilities: a country escape to an authentic bastide manor, a mystical night on the grounds of a Benedictine monastery, an evening under the stars in the restaurant of a Catalan golf club, gourmet tasting in a winery domaine, and more. The quintessence of refinement, satisfying every desire for novelty, discovery, sensation. ◗ SUDDEFRANCE - 94 -

For your accommodation, always choose Sud de France

This label, developed since 2008, guarantees a warm and professional welcome, with quality and comfort in over 1000 tourist establishments and sites in the Region of Languedoc-Roussillon. Whether you are looking for accommodation, restaurants, wine-tasting cellars, sales outlets for local products, tourist and cultural sites, all are subjected to a rigorous inspection procedure and all undergo an external audit before receiving this label. All these establishments have mastered the basics for welcoming clients in English and for hosting clients with reduced mobility, not to mention their firm commitment to clearly and effectively inform clients of all the cultural events, entertainment and activities available in Languedoc-Roussillon.

For more information, scan this QR code with your Smartphone or connect directly to:

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What toknowbeforeyougo Sud de France Développement Tourism in Languedoc-Roussillon Tel. + 33 (0)4 67 200 220 Maisons du Languedoc-Roussillon abroad Tourism development agency of the Aude Tourism development agency of the Gard Tourism development agency of the Hérault Comité départemental du tourisme de la Lozère Tourism Development Agency of the Eastern Pyrenees

How can you get here?

Located in the South of France on the Mediterranean arc, the Languedoc-Roussillon Region is 3.5 hour journey by TGV from Paris, a 1.5 hour flight from London and 2 hours by road from Barcelona. By air N FRANCE: Direct flights from Paris-Beauvais (to Béziers), from Paris CDG (to Montpellier), from ParisOrly (to Montpellier and Perpignan), from Lille (to Montpellier and Perpignan), from Strasbourg (to Montpellier), from Brest (to Montpellier), from Lyon (to Montpellier), from Ajaccio (to Montpellier and Perpignan). FROM BELGIUM: Direct flights from Brussels-Charleroi (to Carcassonne, Perpignan, Nîmes and Montpellier). FROM GREAT BRITAIN: Direct flights from London-Gatwick (to Montpellier), from London-Luton (to Béziers, Montpellier and Nîmes), from London-Stansted (to Carcassonne and Perpignan), from Bristol (to Béziers), Leeds-Bradford (to Montpellier), Liverpool (to Carcassonne and Nîmes), Birmingham (to Perpignan), East-Midlands

(to Carcassonne), Edinburgh (to Béziers), Glasgow (to Carcassonne), Manchester (to Béziers). FROM SPAIN: Direct flights from Madrid (to Perpignan), from Alicante (to Carcassonne), from Ibiza (to Perpignan). FROM GERMANY: Direct flights from Francfort (to Montpellier), from Düsseldorf International (to Béziers and Montpellier), from Munich (to Montpellier). FROM ITALY: Direct flights from Rome (to Montpellier). FROM IRELAND: Direct flights from Dublin (to Carcassonne and Perpignan), from Cork (to Carcassonne). FROM THE NETHERLANDS: Direct flights from Amsterdam (to Montpellier), from Eindhoven (to Carcassonne), from Rotterdam (to Montpellier). FROM SWEDEN: Direct flights from Stockholm (to Béziers), from Copenhagen (to Montpellier).


FROM NORWAY: Direct flights from Oslo (to Béziers). FROM MOROCCO: Direct flights from Casablanca, Fez, Marrakesh, Nador and Tangiers (to Montpellier). By train Express train TGV from Geneva and Brussels. - SNCF reservation: Daily express TGV train connections from Paris, Lille and Lyon to the main towns of Languedoc-Roussillon. Express TGV train from Brussels. NEW: Express TGV train direct journey from Barcelona to Perpignan. More information on - Regional TER train connections: - Information on the railway stations of Montpellier,Narbonne, Nîmes and Perpignan:

By road: - A 61 Toulouse - Narbonne - A 75 Montpellier - Clermont-Ferrand - Paris - A 9 Barcelona (Spain) - Montpellier - Lyon - A 54 Montpellier - Marseille

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LE SITE de la marque i

www.sud de i

fait peau neuve

Nouvelles Ergonomie et navigation, nouveaux graphisme et contenus.

Retrouvez tous les produits, les recettes et les infos pratiques. Rejoignez-nous !

Direcion de la Communication de Sud de France Développement 03/2015 - Crédit photos : C. Deschamps

t was in 2006 that the Région Languedoc-Roussillon conceived of an umbrella brand identifying the products of the region. Covering both wine - LanguedocRoussillon is the world’s largest vine-growing area – and food, the “Sud de France” label identifies flavourful and varied products of character. Famous for the diversity of its terroir products, Languedoc-Roussillon showcases a genuine art de vivre including apricots, olives, strawberries, asparagus, onions, aubergines, beef, veal, pélardon goat cheese, nougat, chestnut preserves, honey, anchovies, and more. Today, nearly 1,200 businesses are part of this approach. And around 3,501 products, including 2,580 wines, reflect their commitment to the origin and the state of mind required for recognised, regional products and know-how. “Sud de France” is a Mediterranean approach, offering consumers traditional products infused with original flavours. It expresses the intention of perpetuating the Languedoc-Roussillon identity through the excellence of its products, the richness of its history, the force of its natural environment, and the conviviality of the people who work it. All these products are distributed by national brands and benefit from regular promotion campaigns in France and abroad. ◗

THE POWER OF A TRADEMARK Nine years after its creation, the “Sud de France” brand is serving as an example for other regions seeking to identify the products of their areas. It should never be forgotten that a brand must play several roles. First, it must help to client to remember the brand: the consumers and also the distributors must know the brand and think of it when they have to make a choice. Specialists speak of “belonging to a whole”

for the buyer. A brand that is well known, with a good reputation, facilitates the entry of products to sales outlets. Consumers then have the option of finding and recognising it and thus of buying it. In addition to a good reputation, a brand should provide an image and a sense to the product. It should associate strong, positive beliefs that enhance the product, such as quality, practicality, reliability, taste, pleasure, dreams, fun....


Languedoc-Roussillon is a geographical area that represents values, including that of authenticity. It is this authenticity, together with other values of this territory which provide a sense and power to this trademark that has charmed the public.

COUV SDF GB 2015_Mise en page 1 04/05/15 15:24 Page2

Envie d’évasion ?

Direcion de la Communication de Sud de France Développement 03/2015

Crédits photos : Gettyimages - Thinkstock

Ressourcez-vous en Languedoc-Roussillon !

Un week-end au Pont du Gard, un séjour dans un domaine viticole des Corbières, un city-break à Perpignan, une immersion dans le Moyen-Age au cœur de Carcassonne, une initiation golf au bord de la Méditerranée, un séjour bien-être à Montpellier, une escapade gastronomique en

destination sud de france

Naturellement privilegiee Rejoignez-nous sur

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Rejoignez-nous !

Réservez vos prochaines vacances en Languedoc-Roussillon 19/03/2015 16:05:58

Lozère ou à Nîmes... Venez découvrir les plus belles adresses du Languedoc-Roussillon regroupées sous une signature d’excellence : le Cercle Prestige ! Ces établissements contribuent au rayonnement et à l’attractivité de la destination Sud de France Languedoc-Roussillon.



summer winter alike...



COUV SDF GB 2015_Mise en page 1 04/05/15 15:24 Page1

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The “Sud de France” brochures in English can be downloaded from the website or by downloading the iPad application Mon Sud de France. Keep in touch with current events in tourism in the Languedoc-Roussillon Region by subscribing to the e-newslettersVacances en Languedoc-Roussillon and Prestige Languedoc-Roussillon on the website

Book your next holidays:




Winter 201 4-2015


ER 20



Lan nCe

Art of living

A local area for true gastronomy


Cathar country, the citadels of vertigo Paulilles, a unique bay Nîmes, beauty in stone Mende, a territory for escapes Sète, between the lagoon and the deep blue sea

5 ideas for discovery tours throughout the region


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