L a n g u e d o c - R o u s s i l l o n
True luxury is actually being there.
en languedoc-roussillon, True luxury is actually being there.
• Photos : © iStockphoto - Phovoir • Mars 2010
P LE ASANT TO U R I S M
Contents True luxury is actually being there All the pleasures of the seaside .................................................................................................................................... Moving to the rhythm of the cities ................................................................................................................................ Roaming through authentic lands ............................................................................................................................... Join in the grand mountain spectacle...........................................................................................................................
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True luxury is going back in time UNESCO sites on the History trails ............................................................................................................................ Traditions to experience directly ....................................................................................................................................
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True luxury is educating yourself more Festivals of culture ............................................................................................................................................................ Which muse will excite you? ..........................................................................................................................................
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True luxury means tasting everything Wines invite you on a truly exciting trip within Languedoc-Roussillon.................................................................. Top gastronomy, for all tastes .......................................................................................................................................
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True luxury is to sleep anywhere you fancy and eat anywhere, but not just anything Quality, Sud de France .................................................................................................................................................... Cercle Prestige for exclusive trips ............................................................................................................................... Unusual holidaysâ€Ś to experience live! .......................................................................................................................
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True luxury means pampering yourself Full-on nature .................................................................................................................................................................... From the spring to the sea: waters of youth in Languedoc-Roussillon ...............................................................
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All the pleasures of the seaside Languedoc-Roussillon is 200 kilometres of sandy beaches from the Spanish border to the gates of Provence! So it is easy to find your spot on the edge of the Mediterranean. You’ll be spoilt for choice on a coast that stretches out in a string of beaches, lagoons, coves and little fishing ports... At the very east of the arc of the Gulf of Lion: the Petite Camargue, with its landscapes of rice fields and canals, where pink flamingos mingle with the bulls and horses. There’s a breath of freedom here, and it’s the ideal place for a family trip. You’ll see salt workers on your way, collecting the salt dried by the mistral, or mounted herders, guiding the bulls along with the tips of their tridents. Save time for a swim on the beaches of the Gulf of AiguesMortes, after visiting Saint-Louis’ celebrated walled city. In Grau-duRoi, you must see the famous Espiguette: there’s a spot waiting for you on this vast stretch of fine sand, isolated by the dunes. Then you simply follow the sand into the dist ance to reach the famous “pyramides” of La Grande-Motte. Between the lagoons and the sea, earth and water describe a mosaic of sand, salt marshes and pinewoods. If you come by boat, no problem: stop over in Port-Camargue - one of the largest marinas in Europe - or at one of the 27 ports in LanguedocRoussillon, with 30,000 berths for pleasure craft. You will also sail past
maritime towns, as suggested by their names, like Palavas-les-Flots and Sète, that “singular island” where nautical jousting has become a fete. In the town of Georges Brassens and Paul Valéry, where even the cemetery is marine, the lovely walk along the seafront is also a gastronomical invitation to the beach restaurants in the summer, to taste oysters fresh from the sea, eel stew or a fish platter.
A natural cinema set For those who love active holidays by the sea, don’t miss Cap d'Agde, the European capital of naturism, its 14 kilometres of fine sand, its underwater trail, Leisure Island and amusement parks for young and old (including Aqualand). This doesn’t stop you from enjoying the many protected wildlife areas in LanguedocRoussillon, with virgin coastline, particularly between Frontignan and Maguelone, with its ancient cathedral standing like a look-out post over the water. At the mouth of the Orb river, the Orpellières estate, with its string of sand dune beaches and saltbushes is among the most
True luxury is actually being there
beautiful sites along the coast. In Gruissan, the beach dotted with wooden chalets is also a real, lifesized cinema set (as witnessed in the film by director Jean-Jacques Beineix, “Betty Blue” (“37.2 le matin” in French). In this fishing village, a family sea resort, some like to linger on the beach until the early hours of the morning in April, to admire the natural, romantic sight of the red moon setting. Because, whatever the season, the Mediterranean blue and the sunshine light up the coast with a thousand colours; it is this light on the côte Vermeille (vermillion coast) which enthrals tourists just as it did Matisse and Picasso in the past, in Cerbère, Port-Vendres, Banyuls and obviously Collioure, the cradle of fauvism. The ideal place to find quiet coves with golden sand, surrounded by vertiginous cliffs, at the foot of the Pyrenees. The perfect place for a picnic and a swim, with a basket of Collioure anchovies and the wine of Banyuls.
For more about your stay on the Mediterranean consult www.sunfrance.com
to the rhythm of the cities
Montpellier, Nîmes, Perpignan, Narbonne, Béziers, Carcassonne, Mende… shaped by centuries of history, the cities of Languedoc-Roussillon are now resolutely facing the future while cherishing the heritage of their past. Stop off and enjoy these Mediterranean cities, where, whether hectic or calm, life is good, the sunshine is generous and the people are friendly. On the programme: shopping, shows, visits to museums and other cultural sites, tasting the local specialities or strolling along main streets with character, interspersed with shady terraces. 7 km from the sea, midway between Spain and Italy, “lose” yourself in Montpellier and find evidence of almost twelve centuries of history: Mediaeval side streets, picturesque monuments, town houses and royal palaces create its exceptional identity. An entirely pedestrian area, with lively designer shops and multiple brand names, the Ecusson, the historical heart of the city, is the ideal place to wander and explore. Many artists, drawn by this quality of life, have added an extra touch to the city. Contemporary dance has acquired international renown here. Theatre, the music scene and art find expression in a variety of exhibitions, festivals, small shows or major productions at the Opéra, the Zenith and Arena - a new modern complex scheduled to open in September - or quite simply on a street corner, in one of the trendy bars or restaurants in the city.
An ancient link Make another leap from past to future in Nîmes. Among its prestigious symbols: the ancient Roman arena and modern Carré d’Art, designed by the famous architect Lord Norman Foster, housing a library, media library and contemporary art museum all under the same roof. It is really worth the visit, before stopping at one of the flourishing cafés and shops across the town, which spring to life at the slightest ray of sunshine!
Then, set off to explore Mende, in the heart of Lozère, between the Causses and the mountains. The ancient capital of Gévaudan, classified as a city of art, is well worth the detour, with its rich architectural heritage. The Via Domitia, the ancient road between Spain and Italy, is one of the historic links of these cities of Languedoc-Roussillon. You can still see the old cobblestones, as in Narbonne, founded by the Romans in 118 BC, where a section has been preserved in the heart of the town. Surrounded by garrigues and vines, not far from a long sandy beach, the town, like its neighbour, Béziers, has some exceptional sites. Some of the treasures to explore are the Archbishop’s Palace (Palais des Archevêques) and the Basilica of Saint Paul. Or still yet in Béziers, Pierre-Paul Riquet’s city, built on its rich and glorious past as a wine-growing eldorado with rich Cathar history. Further inland, Carcassonne seems to stand guard over its treasures. An exceptional site, its fortified citadelle overlooks the region and carries you back several centuries into the past. At the end of an ancient Roman road you’ll arrive at Perpignan, situated at the foot of the Pyrenees and a city with a strong identity. It’s not by chance that Salvador Dali described the Perpignan train station as being the centre of the world. From the Palace of the Kings of Majorca (Palais des Rois de Majorque) to Castillet, and the picturesque side streets with their walls made of brick and river stones, a visit to the town is a must, to discover its charms to the full.
Discover more about the cities in Languedoc-Roussillon at www.sunfrance.com
through authentic lands
Let yourself be carried away by the song of the cicadas in summer, a light breeze carrying the scent of broom, rosemary and thyme. Far from the bustle of the city, the Languedoc-Roussillon countryside offers forgotten sensations, where time seems to stand still and nature is exalted. Everywhere in the region, trails, gites and excursions offer a taste of a unique environment, far from the pressures of daily life. It is hard to resist the spell of these rocky, arid or wooded landscapes - natural or tamed - hidden in the depths of a valley, by a calm or raging river, on sunny hillsides, linked by paths or charming minor roads. You can discover all these landscapes either by car, by bike, or even on foot. Roads, paths and trails pass alongside vineyards, orchards, and wheat and rape fields. You might come across an enclosure, where goats and sheep are kept to produce their creamy cheeses. Whether with a guide or on your own, the different options offer opportunities to savour these lands of character, meeting the people who make the wines, honey, olives and other Mediterranean products. From the Rhône to the Pyrenees, local areas express their true diversity: the Bleu des Causses and pelardon cheeses and sweet onions of the Cévennes, the olive oil of Nîmes, bullmeat from the Camargue, peaches and nectarines from the Costières, melons, almonds, apples and grapes, apricots, garriguette sweet strawberries and potatoes from Roussillon. One way to discover these is by travelling along the olive mill route in the Eastern Pyrenees, or enjoying the pleasures of relaxation, gastronomy and culture in Céret, during the cherry festival. Or simply by losing yourself in the vineyards of Languedoc and Roussillon, in Banyuls-surMer or the Corbières.
Harmony with nature The wood “sings” in the cool of a starry night and the stones give off the warmth of the day. Simple or luxurious, the places to stay always opt for authenticity in these captivating lands. Succomb to the charm of these old, centuries’ old buildings, renovated farms or picturesque residences, their stones steeped in history, surrounded by gardens, vineyards, woods or garrigue scrubland. Magical places, infused with harmony, poetry and tranquillity. The stopping off points are a chance to discover restaurants and other eating places, with local specialties accompanied by the wines or fruit juices of the region. The flavour is heightened by stories and legends from the past, recounted with colour and good humour. Tales that are recounted by a fireplace, or a fountain, in the village square or on a sunny terrace. In these lands, the link with nature is still very strong. Donkey-trekking is available at some sites. Different rides more or less physically challenging let you take in the always sublime and varied landscapes. You can also meet animals simply by visiting a farm in the Hérault, on a picnic with friends or family. Donkeys, poultry, rabbits, pigs, sheep and horses, set in a garrigue landscape right next to an authentic dolmen.
Explore the wide open spaces at www.sunfrance.com
True luxury is actually being there
in the grand mountain spectacle
Lozère is the highest stage of this natural amphitheatre constituted by the mountain landscape of Languedoc-Roussillon. Kit yourself out with a good pair of walking shoes (and a picnic basket) to find harmony with a landscape of wide horizons covered in meadowland, long low stone walls, waterfalls cascading in the shade of the pine or birch woods... You are in Causses country, these plateaux that lead up to altitudes of an average of 1,000 metres. Here you can breathe in the grand spect acle of the mountains, before dipping down to the orchards in the valleys, on tracks that are mostly only used by walkers and goats. In Margeride, nature reigns supreme, full of surprises for all the family. In Sainte-Lucie, near Marvejols, don’t miss the Park which houses a hundred wolves, with an exhibition centre highlighting the famous myth of the Beast of Gévaudan. In Sainte-Julie you can also get up close to European bison, in the snow or in summer sunlight, in a park devoted to this protected species. Lozère is also Aubrac with its “burons”, buildings where the
shepherds used to prepare the rounds of cheese used in making the delicious aligot. On foot, mountain bike or cross-country skis in the winter, wide spaces stretch out before you on the natural “citadels“ of Mount Lozère and Mount Aigoual (1.567 metres in altitude). After the effort, a little reward: between Nasbinals and Saint-Chély d'Apcher, you can also take a pleasure break and get back into shape at la Chaldette spa (hot spring lovers should also stop off at Bagnols les Bains).
Escaping into spectacular scenery Southern Languedoc-Roussillon is where you find the most famous summit, the “sacred mountain” as it’s known in these parts: Mount Canigou (2785 metres) is barely 50 kilometres from the blue waters of the Mediterranean. It is a place of pilgrimage for any self-respecting hiker, and the point of departure to discover this part of the Pyrenean chain with its tumultuous relief, stretching from the rift basins of
Capcir and Cerdagne, and the valleys of the Conflent and Vallespir. Nature is so abundant that there is something to please everyone. Like an excursion to the superb Carança gorges and a visit to the Canalettes caves, in Villefranche-de-Conflent. Escape into spectacular scenery that you can reach by car... or even by train! Between Villefranche-deConflent and Latour de Carol, the picturesque hundred-year-old “yellow train of the Pyrenees” crosses precipices and rivers, thanks to its 650 engineering structures. Guaranteed to win your heart as you reach the highest railway station in France, Bolquère, at 1592 metres altitude. Over to the west, the Pic Carlit (2921 metres) overlooks a series of lakes and torrents, including Bouillouses lake and Lanous pond, stretching across 2500 metres, at 2150 metres altitude! Landscapes that are unique in Europe, and which are obviously a magnificent sports ground in winter with snow-covered trails, notably in the ski resorts Les Angles and FontRomeu.
on the History trails Follow the traces of the different cultures that have traversed the Languedoc-Roussillon, through the rich diversity of sites and monuments, five of which are UNESCO World Heritage sites: the Pont du Gard, the Fortified City of Carcassonne, the Canal du Midi, the Fortifications of Saint James Vauban and the Route of Santiago de Compostela.
With many cultural riches marking an epoch; travelling the roads of Languedoc-Roussillon, is like walking along the trails of history. You can follow the trail of the Roman chariots, for instance and their deep ruts can still be seen in parts of the ancient Via Domitia at the site of Ambrussum. But the greatest testimony of the Roman Empire is to be found near Uzès : the Pont du Gard, spanning the Gardon since the first century of this era. In the museum at the foot of the monument you will find out that this structure 275 m long and 40 m high - is part of the aqueduct that used to supply drinking water to the town of Nemausus (Nîmes). Travelling through the region, you will see how the Roman era has left other reminders. Like, for example, the Oppidum at Ensérune, near Béziers. At the centre of the site: an attractive museum displays numerous thousand-year-old vestiges, while all around lies one of the panoramas of the Languedoc plain and... the Canal du Midi. This is perhaps your unique opportunity to hop on a barge at Colombiers and just follow the current on the “river road”
True luxury is going back in time
linking the Atlantic Ocean and the Mediterranean. You’ll get a glimpse of the Herculean task accomplished during the 17th century by visiting Fonséranes, situated on the outskirts of Béziers, where Pierre-Paul Riquet created a work of eight oval shaped locks and nine gates which allows users to achieve a difference in level of some 21.50 meters over a stretch of more than 300 metres.
The Cathar Castles Th e j o u r n e y t h r o u g h t i m e i n Languedoc-Roussillon obviously travels along the roads of the castles in the Land of the Cathars, in Aude. Visiting these fortresses perched on the hilltops, takes you right back to the Middle Ages. The most imposing castle is Peyrepertuse, composed of three successive walls which reach a height of nearly 300 metres. On your way, be sure not to miss the four Lastour castles: Cabaret, Tour Régine, Surdespine and Quertinheux. So many ideal family trips to touch the clouds... and History itself. The nearby
fortified city of Carcassonne, honoured by Unesco, also dates back to the Middle Ages. The impressive citadel overlooks the plains of the Minervois and Carcassès, casting a look at the Black Mountains and the sinuous contours of the Corbières in the distance. Further to the south, you can make out the line of the Pyrenees, where Vauban built the fortifications of Villefranche-deConflent and the citadel of Mont-Louis, listed as world heritage sites since 2008. If you enjoyed Carcassonne, you’ll love the Medieval city of Villefranche de Conflent, one of the Most Beautiful Villages of France, where the architect of Louis XIV built the fortifications. The fortress in Mont-Louis, built to defend the new border with Spain after the signing of the Treaty of the Pyrenees in 1659, is at the strategic crossroads of three valleys (Têt, Aude and Cerdagne). It is also a stage in the journey along the history trails of the region.
to experience directly Biou” or flying ox, in the Cévennes, the “Pailhasses” in Cournonterral in the Hérault, or the Witches Fete in the Eastern Pyrenees, the myth of the “Drac” or dragons, in Beaucaire in the Gard and other stories that date back to the beginning of time, throughout the LanguedocRoussillon.
The land and the people The calvalcade ends in good humour in the heart of the village of Prats-de-Mollo-la-Preste in Roussillon. Locals and visitors, some of them “stained” with ashes, according to the tradition of the Bear Fete, mingle in the laughter of the lanes or on the terraces, overlooked by the Pyrenees. From Montpellier to Perpignan, via Nîmes and Carcassonne, the influence of customs and legends is present in everyday life, through an event, a story, a speciality or folklore, that is always vivid and picturesque. It’s an experience with fascinating origins, to share and consume without moderation! Summer is a time that particularly lends itself to this type of event. Ferias and Camargue races liven up the towns and villages, while the seafront is right at the heart of amazing fetes. The fishermen of Gruissan in Aude, splendidly perpetuate a 17th century fete on the day of Saint-Pierre. After all, the offerings are made to guarantee the success of the fishing season! Not to be missed either are the water jousting tournaments on the canals of Sète, Agde, Palavas-les-flots and Grau-du-roi, recounting the “combats” of the Middle Ages between teams of married men and young, single men. Pretty much everywhere, traditions come back to life though the seasons: the Sanch procession in Perpignan, fete of Saint-Roch in Montpellier, the fires of Saint-Jean in Catalonia. In the Eastern Pyrenees, the July festival is the occasion for dancing the sardane, highlighting one of the most picturesque of local traditions. Legends can also be a little scary, much to the pleasure of the young … and the old! On the programme: the Beast of Gévaudan or the feast of Gargantua in Lozère, the “Volo
At the corner of a lane, along a pathway, on a sign, monument or residence, inscriptions evoke the presence of famous men and women of Languedoc-Roussillon. From the likes of Matisse to Trenet, through Paul Valéry and Brassens, colourful figures have left their mark on the region. Painters, singers, writers and other historical figures ingeniously stimulated the territory. People like Vauban (1633-1707) in the Roussillon region or Pierre Paul Riquet (1604-1680), an engineer born in Béziers who dedicated his whole life to creating the Canal du Midi. Those living in the region have been cradled in their childhood by the stories, fables and poetry of figures such as Alphonse Daudet (1840-1897) born in Nîmes, whose birthplace can still be visited. People have been influenced by a whole generation of painters such as Frédéric Bazille (1841-1870), originally from Montpellier and now recognized as one of the pioneers of impressionism. Molière also left his mark thanks to his many plays and shows staged throughout the region from 1647 to 1657. You can still see traces of his life and work left in several towns especially in Pézenas, where an exceptional show recounts to audiences the life of the most famous French playwright and stage actor. A trip through Languedoc-Roussillon is an opportunity to cross paths with some of these well-known figures, gone today, or even with more modern living figures such as Gérard Depardieu, Juliette Greco, Olivia Ruiz or Pierre Richard.
Follow on the heels of history and experience for yourself some Languedoc-Roussillon traditions at www.sunfrance.com
Festivals of culture
Culture in the region is expressed in every domain: digital arts, photography, dance, classical music, modern music, theatre, cinema… On the theatre side, with three national theatres (Narbonne, Sète, Alès) and a string of dynamic theatres, there’s a lot to choose from. It’s the same dilemma when it comes to choosing your film on Saturday night. And why wait till Saturday, when there are two big festivals devoted to the seventh art, right in the area? Film previews, short film competitions, retrospectives, fictions, documentaries... It’s a constant buzz every year in Montpellier with Cinémed the Mediterranean film festival, and in Alès with Itinérances, t h e o t h e r e v e n t t h a t i s m u ch appreciated by film buffs, with its ten days of 180 films. And all this, from October to Mars, represents 400 films screened and almost as many well-known actors and film makers coming to talk about their art before a happy audience of film fans.
A vast open air happening The other aspect of the region’s reput ation is the astonishing concentration of festivals and cultural events which, with the grace of
summer and all the little squares that enliven the towns of the South and unfold like a vast open air happening with shows that are often free. This is the case with the Radio France and Montpellier Languedoc-Roussillon festival which simult aneously broadcasts in July before the general public in Montpellier and with Radio France, operas, young soloists, jazz nights, reggae and electronic music… In addition to this is Montpellier Danse, another talent machine which launches the festivities in the Regional metropolis at the end of June. Once the pace is set, it spreads like wildfire, from one department to another. In the E a s t e r n P y r e n e e s , w i t h Le s Estivales, the Perpignan summer festival (in July) or Déferlantes in Argelès-sur-Mer and its “sea festivities” held in the extraordinary Valmy park. The party goes on in Aude with the Carcassonne festival, in Hérault on the banks of the Thau lagoons with the festival de Thau, at the heart of a singular island for Fiest’A Sète and Jazz in Sète, or in Chanac in Lozère for the Détours du Monde (July).
True luxury is educating yourself more
On the photography side, the region has nothing to envy its Arlesien neighbour: between Visa pour l’image the photojournalism event in Perpignan, ImageSingulières the festival of social photography that is such a hit in Sète, or Boutographies presenting the best of the young European photography scene, held in Montpellier every year in May, the public is passionate about this art which opens our eyes to the world. Culture is also and above all, about young people, fervent supporters of the finals of the Battle of the Year France in Montpellier: they come and encourage the best dancers on the French Hip Hop scene, their crews and choreographies that are true acrobatic and visual performances. Also on the banks of the Lez, where they come to admire the competitors gliding through the air and across the water at the International Festival of Extreme Sports.
Consult the complete Languedoc-Roussillon cultural schedule at www.sunfrance.com
muse will excite you?
You wander aimlessly from a modern gallery to a small village museum without any artistic preconceptions. No rule ever presides over your choices ranging from a Brazilian ex-voto, modern art, and primitive art to Great Art. This region is definitely for you! With fifty-seven museums, grouped under the “France museum” label, of very diverse sizes and interest and collections ranging from paleontology, right up to modern artists, art in the Languedoc-Roussillon region can practically be found on every street corner. To begin the trip for reaching your goal, a good starting point could be Montpellier’s Fabre Museum, selected for its heterogeneous and magnificent permanent collections which highlight the differences between Flemish painting, Neoclassicism, 19th Romantic, large summer retrospectives and the other dark, obscure for some and obvious to others, works of art which constitute the donated Pierre Soulages collection. By the way, the region is home to a host of places of distinctive nature and of nearly as many museums which tend to bring out real talent. In Sète, a city on the coast, the Paul Valéry museum places great emphasis on local and regional contemporary artists from Sète. In Lodève, the Fleury museum has an international sheen with its large temporary expositions. Art gatherings compete with others from one end of the region and calendar to the other during the whole year…
Starting with the Fauves, a permanent exposition in Collioure and the Cubists organized by the Céret Modern Museum of Art. In the Cité de Picasso, you will have a unique artistic experience in the cradle of the Cubist movement: Braque, Soutine, Chagall, Matisse… All the paintings by these masters are there hanging in the coolness and silence of a small regional museum. When you leave the museum, you can then take a stroll through the quaint streets of the Cité and look for round and generous bronze sculptures by Aristide Maillol, a son of the soil. You can have a general overview of the works of this great artist, just a short 40 kilometres away in Banyuls-sur-Mer where there is museum honouring his work. Modern art enthusiasts can choose from the Carré d’Art in Nîmes, the Modern Regional Art museum in Sérignan, inescapable places of interest which present expositions and collections or the Regional Centre for Modern Art in Sète dedicated to artistic creation and experimentation.
The most beautiful architectural examples Witness to the dynamism expressed all throughout the region, the architectural settings which encapsulate the museums, designed and built by renowned architects, are quite impressive. In Nîmes, you can ponder the outer glass layer designed by Sir Norman Foster to embellish the Carré d’Art and its modern art expositions… In Montpellier, the Fabre museum was renovated in 2007 by the Nebout-Puyeo firm (who co-designed the Museum of Man in Paris). Art can also be explored in a more modest way by looking at more picturesque museums such as the Modest International Art Museum in Sète situated along the royal canal housing the works of more modern popular creation gathered from all over the globe by the local Setois painter, Hervé Di Rosa.
invite you on a truly exciting trip within Languedoc-Roussillon Languedoc-Roussillon vineyards just beg for superlatives: the largest in the world, among the oldest, the most diverse and those which have progressed the most over the last twenty years! For the past two decades, wines from LanguedocRoussillon have made it to the top of the list generating a veritable numbers revolution for which the House of Languedoc Coteaux Wines is one of the most wonderful showcases today. The 18th century traditional Provencal house vineyard testifies to the architectural richness of regional wine estates which almost seem like temples dedicated to the glory of wine. One such place is the Verchant wine estate, located just on the outskirts of Montpellier, whose wine and spirit store fits in perfectly with a sumptuous five-star hotel offering a luxurious spa within a green and peaceful setting of grape vines. Another such temple dedicated to the wonders of wine is the small village of Cases situated in the Pyrenees, with its small road lined with olive and cypress trees leading visitors up to the Jau Castle, nestled in the Corbières foothills. Wine, such as Côtes du Roussillon and Rivesaltes muscatel, can be sampled in this quaint place while simultaneously taking in some modern art expositions. All the Languedoc-Roussillon wines have been brought together under the “South of France” banner. It is a quality label bringing together all different kinds and flavors of wine: whites, reds, rosés, sparkling like the Blanquette de Limoux, or even the well known sweet, natural wines which can be sampled in the cellars in Banyuls. And of course, we must not forget the muscatel wines which by themselves make it worth the trip to meet the muscatel producers in Lunel, Mireval, Frontignan, Saint-Jean de Minervois and Rivesaltes. With nearly
True luxury means tasting everything
eighty wines bearing the Protected Label of Origin and Protected Geographical Indication, the LanguedocRoussillon region stands out among the largest wine regions and highlighting the passion of wine growers for their land.
Wine and culture itineraries So with such a range of varieties, blends and regions where should you begin exploring? You are totally free to select from among a dozen regional “wine itineraries” and visit the vineyards from wine cooperatives to wine cellars. You might begin at Terra Vinea, located in the heart of the Corbières. The site is spectacularly located 80 metres underground within the galleries of a former gypsum mine and once there you’ll be transported back in time to discover “wine civilizations”. The guided visit is embellished with video projections and when you’re all done, a wine tasting session awaits you. Only a few miles away, make sure you and the whole family visit the Vine and Wine Cité at Gruissan, a really unique place in France created by researchers from the National Institute for Agronomic Research. At the Cité you and your family can see, smell, experiment, learn and even taste. It’s a way to discover the adventure of wine in an educational and fun way thanks to displays and a 4,000 metre garden of blends. Languedoc-Roussillon wine and culture itineraries: on the way, stop at the Mas des Tourelles, a wine growing estate built on the exact spot of an ancient Roman villa near Beaucaire and the Cesar Columns. Each stop on the itinerary brings with it a host of sensations all the way from the Rhône river to the foothills of the Pyrenees: Vinipolis, in Florensac, is a wonderful place combining a high tech wine cellar, where you can let yourself be guided by the interactive stations helping you discover the winery, a wine and spirit aging store and even a bistro. In the village of Maury, where the vineyard closely hugs the surrounding hills, the Maison du Terroir offers a tasting bar, where you can sample succulent sweet and local natural dry wines, and there is an excellent restaurant as well so you can taste the perfect match between a glass of Maury wine with Scallop tournedos, roasted monkfish and subtle strawberry macaroons…
Top gastronomy for all tastes Languedoc-Roussillon cuisine is outstanding, both for its originality and its diversity. In the firmament: the 27 Michelin stars for chefs who pay tribute to the wealth of the region, its produce and unique flavours. One of the best restaurants in France is in the centre of Corbière, in the small village of Fontjoncouse. On this land, overlooked by Cathar Castles, the famous chef Gilles Goujon finds the game, truffles and mushrooms that inspire his dishes. Other chefs from outside the region have also fallen in love with Languedoc-Roussillon; like this Belgian chef, who has moved to the heart of the Albères, and whose delicious sea bass with Sahorre saffron won over the most prestigious gastronomy guide in the world. You will have no difficulty being won over yourself by this restaurant, rooted in the terroir (and whose label “Qualité Sud de France” is a guarantee). Because wherever you go in
Languedoc-Roussillon, you will find a table to suit your taste - and your budget- to enjoy the many regional specialities: aligot and tripous in Lozère, Aubrac beef, Camargue bull stew, cod brandade in Nîmes, tielles (seafood tarts) or stuffed squid in Sète, Cassoulet in Castelnaudary, crème catalane in the Eastern Pyrenees... At all the village markets, you can fill your basket to the brim: anchovies in Collioure, pélardons (goat’s cheese) in Lozère, peaches and apricots in Roussillon, or the traditional Lucques olives, also found in tapenade, and which produce “the best of the best” olive oils, according to the legendary chef Joël Robuchon! And don’t miss a visit to the traditional oil mills, like the one in Bize Minervois.
From producer to consumer One of the assets of gastronomy in Languedoc-Roussillon is its accessibility for all. You can find the best products directly: from producer to consumer. On the shores of the lagoons in the region, shellfish farmers - real sea farmers - line up their stalls piled high with fresh oysters and mussels. Eat them there or take them home, as you please. Like in Bouzigues, where you can combine all the pleasures of the senses in one
moment: the lovely view of the lagoons, the sound of lapping water, the cool touch of a glass of Picpoul de Pinet, the delicious taste of oysters and mussels (en brasucade, i.e. grilled over vine stock embers) just off the boats of the local producers. This is a sample of direct regional cuisine, scented with the nearby garrigue, its fragrances of thyme, rosemary, sage or fennel. And don’t forget to try things out: in Languedoc-Roussillon you’ll find unique ingredients, such as the Pardailhan turnip, or the cèbe (sweet onion) from Lézignan. Its a marriage of taste and nature, to savour all year round, from autumn, the high season for gathering chestnuts in the Cévennes, through to summer, with the delights of eating sea bream, shellfish and clams in little restaurants right on the beach. You may also want to take home some of those little sweet treats, Rousquilles du Vallespir or Grisettes de Montpellier, perfect reminders of the unique flavours of Languedoc-Roussillon.
For more information on wines and gastronomy please visit www.sunfrance.com
Quality Sud de France As soon as you arrive, your troubles disappear, the welcome is friendly and professional, the site is pleasant and comfortable. “The label is equal to its reputation”, confide Philippe and Céline who regularly escape to Languedoc-Roussillon, choosing from hundreds of establishments and sites with the “Qualité Sud de France” label. The pleasure of an authentic stay, free of anxiety, knowing that you get quality service, whether in the city, by the sea, in the mountains or the countryside. “Our approach meets strict criteria, our very first commitment being to satisfying our customers to the full,” confirm the hotel and restaurant owners, and other partners in the operation. Discover a typical site, go into any restaurant, bar or café with this label, and you will enjoy the region to its full potential. Here, the meals have a southern flavour,
they’re made with local products, scented by the fragrances of the garrigue and prepared with care by people who love good cooking. The accommodation has the knack of bringing out the local charm. To prove it, all you have to do is savour the tranquillity of a table set under the pines and olive trees, by a swimming pool, a peaceful river or overlooking the sea. Or relax in a comfortable room decorated in the colours of southern France. The choice is huge: hotels, campsites, holiday flats, holiday villages, wineries, tourist and cultural sites, or outlets selling local products. The guarantee of a successful stay!
For more on all the Quality institutions consult www.sunfrance.com
Cercle Prestige for exclusive trips
Looking for somewhere unique and refined? Cercle Prestige, offers you a selection of fifty upmarket establishments, listed in the most reputable guides. The selection includes: exceptional sites such as mediaeval castles and prestigious monuments, hotels of character, charming residences, Benedictine monasteries, small manor houses, town houses, walled towns, wine estates, gourmet restaurants... The chance to experience high level tourism that is luxurious, comfortable, memorable, natural, active, exquisite and gourmet, in a region of multiple destinations. Relax in a tastefully decorated lounge, after an exquisite meal and a day of escape and discovery. The moments are always intense in these exclusive establishments that exude charm, elegance, the sense of hospitality and the art of living. Live life to the full, over dinner with a Jazz concert, a walk along a sandy beach in Languedoc, with wine and oyster tasting. The magic moment can be enjoyed at dinner with music in Roussillon, a delicious meal in the Land of the Cathars or supper for two with flowers after a spa, at a charming home. It can also be savoured in a five-star inn or hotel, with a glass of champagne and chocolates, during a wine tasting on a Minervois estate, or walking along the Canal du Midi. Places to discover in all their simplicity. The Internet, tourist offices and even an i-phone can help you choose your exceptional site for an experience that will be... unforgettable!
Prepare your next trip at www.sunfrance.com/prestige
True luxury is to sleep anywhere you fancy and eat anywhere, but not just anything
Unusual holidays… to experience live!
Experiences and holidays that are out of the ordinary are waiting for you at the four corners of Languedoc Roussillon. A hint of adventure and escape, at a bend in the path, in the heart of a historical centre, on a beach, or a wooded hillside with the fragrance of thyme and rosemary. There are infinite options to enjoy this land steeped in history, with its charming traditions, in historical centres, landscapes that are sometimes mysterious, and contrasts that are vivid and fascinating.
Passionate and talented professionals bring this unique world to life. You can discover it from the sky, on an amazing first flight in an air balloon. Taking a remarkable leap into the past, the passengers set off in the first rays of the sun, back to Roman times, flying over the Pont du Gard, then, a few centuries later, over the rooftops of the historic centre of Uzès. The sensations mount on a maiden flight in a two-seater glider, with the Pic St Loup in the background. Accompanied by an expert pilot, the landscape glides by as if carried by the wind around this mythical summit, fringed with delightful villages and a plain that stretches all the way to Montpellier and the sea. A guaranteed adrenalin rush!
Those who are nostalgic about quaint cars will choose to discover the charms of the region … in a 2CV! Another unexpected way to explore some of the local delights, like the Tarn Gorge, the village of Sainte Enimie, Aubrac plateau, the mysterious caves, the vulture viewing point or the captivating rugged limestone landscapes of the Causses. A colourful tour, punctuated by picnic breaks to enjoy the local produce, stopping off at good restaurants, and accommodation in typical gites.
Back to earth, or rather to water for another exceptional ride along the Canal du Midi where an electro solar powered boat takes you on a gentle
In Languedoc-Roussillon, the nights match the beauty of the days. All it takes is to lie under the Milky Way, carried away by the warm sea breeze,
trip, in harmony with the ecosystem, of a preserved site listed under UNESCO World Heritage.
Nights as lovely as the days
the Mistral or the Tramontane, lulled by the song of the crickets. Original ways of savouring these privileged moments, off the beaten track, like nights in a yurt under the pines, 800 metres from the magnificent Aresquiers beach, near Montpellier, or in the heart of the Cévennes, in a Provençal garden. Lovers of nature and of unusual, timeless experiences can also enjoy a comfortable gypsy caravan, nestled on a hillside or a cabin perched up in the chestnut woods. Meals are prepared in the neighbouring farm with local produce. On the programme: whitewater swimming in the Gardon, a visit to the Château de St Pierre or a walk to the village along a small shady path edged with dry stone terraces. These magical nights can be spent everywhere in Languedoc-Roussillon. For instance, in an authentic 18th century windmill facing the majestic Pont du Gard, or in the barrels of an old 18th century wine cellar, 15 minutes away from the mediaeval fortified city of Carcassonne. Unique, so different and delightful!
For all offers on stays in Languedoc-Roussillon consult www.sunfrance.com
Full-on nature From the Californian golf courses by the sea, a sunny green paradise for golfers, to the thrilling sensations of whitewater sports in the countryside, or water sports off the coast of the Mediterranean... The region, with its high mountain relief and the diversity of coastal shores, is an invitation to outdoor sports: mountain biking, climbing, skiing, swimming, skin diving, kite surf, horse riding... Anything’s possible, within easy reach and for all budgets.
Hiking gets the top prize for the most popular sport, with 6300 kilometres of tracks and registered hiking trails (GR) to explore nature in all its contrasts. They will take you from Saint-Maurice-de-Navacelles to Saint-Privat in Hérault, from Carcassonne to Bourg-Madame in the Eastern Pyrenees, from La Canourgue in Lozère to Beaucaire in Gard, along mule tracks or “drailles” (transhumance trails) which run from the Aubrac plateau to the lonely reaches of the high plateaux, notably the Grande Draille in Languedoc (GR 60), where you enter the scenery of heath land and dark forests. The champion sport is everywhere, practised by all and at all levels, in the heart of untamed nature or along the History trail: many registered trails actually follow the ancient Via Domitia, the roads to Compostella, or Stevenson’s trail (GR70), which you can take accompanied by a donkey.
Wintersports enthusiasts simply need to choose between the snows of the Cevènnes and the small family resorts of Mount Lozère and Aubrac, the well-known resorts of Capcir equipped for Alpine skiing (Formiguères, Les Angles, Puyvalador) or Font-Romeu-Pyrénées 2000, PortePuymorens and Cerdagne-Puigmal. Others prefer the summer: freshwater sports out in the countryside, whether in turbulent rivers (the Orb, the Hérault, the Tech, the high valley of the Aude) or water recreation areas, and there are many mountain lakes too… Canoeing, kayaking, rafting, canyoning… You can practise whitewater sports at just the level of thrills and effort you are looking for. And for those who want to brave the sea elements, Languedoc-Roussillon is where the top kitesurfers and windsurfers compete every year on the beaches of LeucateLa Franqui for the Mondial du Vent. With fifteen different sports in the competition, kite-surfers sail the winds of the Tramontane and the Mistral, along the shore. This freestyle boardsport, practised between the sky and the sea, was invented on our coast in 1992 and has become the regional sport: a refreshing experience to try out in one of the 23 schools with kite-surf instruction.
Wild scenery for thrilling sensations Want to get out into the wild? The landscapes of HautLanguedoc are a luxury, with the forests of Aude and surrounding the Canigou in the Eastern Pyrenees. You can get there by hiking through limestone rocks, your lungs filled with the scent of the vegetation of the garrigue, after passing a “gutted” Cathar castle on your way along the ridge path. Loners on long hikes, can press on further to the Aubrac plateau, with its first spring flowers, to admire the dancing daffodils, or in the winter, kitted out with snowshoes, can cut across the forests that populate the region’s 18 ski resorts. Downhill or cross-country skiing, snowboard, snowshoeing, dog sledding, tobogganing...
True luxury means pampering yourself
For more on all the athletic, leisure and pleasure activities consult www.sunfrance.com
Little day-to-day aches and pains can be cured by the sea. In places like Grau-du-Roi, Port-Camargue, La Grande Motte, in Banyuls-sur-Mer, Canet in Roussillon and Port Barcarès. In the grand tradition of seaside spas, these destinations are greatly appreciated by spa-goers yearround. People come to recharge their energies in thalassotherapy or balneotherapy institutes that are often right on the beach, with views overlooking the sea. Here, algae, sea muds with renowned properties, and seawater, applied by massage and hydromassage, balms and treatments, work miracles against stress and foster wellbeing. This is the revised, exotic version of a southern seaside tradition, luxurious yet popular... as now that several institutes have been created along the coast, some very attractive prices and à la carte formulas are available (short stays, treatments by the day, or the week, fitness formulas, detox, etc), thalassotherapy is within everyone’s reach.
spring to the sea waters of youth From the
in Languedoc-Roussillon All roads lead back to the source Higher up in the mountains, where nature has been preserved, set amidst picturesque villages, the ferruginous or sulphurous waters, the sense of getting away from it all and the pure air enrich the energy capital of the spa visitors. Health is also a gift from the mountains! With 87,000 spa visitors a year, 12 spas dotted between la Chaldette on the Aubrac in Lozère, Bagnols-les-Bains at Mont Lozère springs, Allègre-les-Fumades in Gard, Avèneles-Bains, Balaruc-les-Bains and Lamalou-les-Bains in Hérault, Rennes-les-Bains in Aude, hydrotherapy cures are the other fountain of youth in Languedoc-Roussillon. A fountain that flows fast in the Eastern Pyrenees, with five renowned water spas (Amélie-les-Bains, La Preste-lesBains, Le Boulou, Molitg-les-Bains, Vernet-les-Bains). These destinations, mostly known since Antiquity, like Les Fumades-les-Bains where according to legend, Caesar, the first famous spa visitor, made a halt between two campaigns, offer visitors the most modern of equipment. It is simply a matter of choice, although it is often hard to choose between family spa resorts, spas specializing in skin treatments, health spas, or simply destinations for relaxation. Having said that, a state of wellbeing is always the aim. Whether it’s floating lightly in a swimming pool or perched up in the trees, on the Aubrac plateau in La Chaldette, at the heart of the exceptional site in the Castellane Gorges in Molitg-les-Bains, or in the High Valley of Aude in Rennes-les-Bains, where trying out the hot springs is an absolute must.
Flowing hot water, is the other version of happiness in the mountains. In Cerdagne in the Eastern Pyrenees, at the end of little roads that seem to get lost in the mountains, you come to some amazing outdoor hot water springs, known since Antiquity. These are the hot baths in Llo, Dorres and Saint-Thomas, where the water gushes from the granite and schist at 38 to 70°C. A pleasure of contrasts, where luxury is soaking in the steaming water, comfortably installed in the baths with the mountain chain stretched out in front of you, and right before your eyes, the snow-capped Carlit (2920 m).
Find your next « Relaxing break and well-being » stay at www.sunfrance.com 17 Languedoc-Roussillon
Come and discover Languedoc-Roussillon For just a lovers’ weekend or for a vacation with the whole family. The Languedoc-Roussillon region will seduce you with its range and quality of tourism possibilities to be enjoyed all throughout the year. So start planning your upcoming holidays by contacting the Languedoc-Roussillon Regional Tourist Committee. 0 810 811 488
Languedoc-Roussillon Regional Tourist Committee CS 79507 - F - 34960 Montpellier Cedex 2 Tél. +33 (0)4 67 200 220 firstname.lastname@example.org
• Comité Régional de Tourisme Languedoc-Roussillon - © J. Debru, GettyImages, M. Ginot, B. Liégeois, D. Merlin, Montpellier Agglomération, P. Palau, Phovoir LR, J.-P. Planchon, G. Zimmermann - Juin 2010 • Ce document est imprimé sur du papier PEFC (certificat n° FCBA/08-008892) par une entreprise labellisée ImprimʼVert et Print Environnement et certifiée ISO 14001.
Welcome to the brochure Sud De France, the review of the tourism in Languedoc-Roussillon. Discover holiday destinations in Languedoc-Roussi...