Southern French art de vivre





Southern French art de vivre 34000 Montpellier fr

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Visitors to Languedoc and Roussillon, South of France, should prepare themselves for wild countryside, hearty cuisine and excellent wines. Languedoc-Roussillon offers 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.

The French have kept the regions of Languedoc and Roussillon to themselves for a while. Roussillon has strong cultural and historic links with Catalonia, across the Spanish border. Together they form a crescent of land that sweeps across from the flat: marshlands of the Camargue, south to Spain and west to the wheat-growing plains of the Lauragais and the town of Toulouse. To the east lie the waters of the Mediterranean.

Languedoc Roussillon

The Languedoc covers a rugged, eclectic area. Wrapped around the Mediterranean coast, the cities of Montpellier, Béziers and Narbonne are backed by the foothills of the Massif Central, the Montagne Noire and the Larzac Plateau. From these hills run the Gard, Hérault, Orb and Aude Rivers. It is stunning country and, when combined with neighbouring Roussillon, is the world's largest grape-growing area, with more than 280,000 hectares of vineyards currently in production and a complexity of soil types and varietals.
The main cities offer a buffet of shopping, shows, visits to museums and other cultural sites, tasting the local specialities or strolling along the character-filled main streets – always painted with the warm southern hospitality and smile.

Languedoc Roussillon

Art de Vivre

In Laguedoc-Roussillon the French dedication to the Art de Vivre forms a centrepiece to the way of life – and thus to any holiday. Dedication to the pursuit of pleasure and refinement – whether it be in the arts, history, wine or food – is always part of daily life. Here, the days are long, the food exquisite and the mountain or sea air is fresh, allowing you the freedom to explore the wonderful, rugged environments. Head to the Lozere district to discover the great outdoors of this mountainous terrain. It’s perfect for caving, skiing, kayaking, or exploring the Cévennes National Park, one of the best areas in France for trout fishing.

With the region’s dedication to the art of living, it’s no wonder there are 57 museums, dedicated to all the ages from paleontology to modern art. Start at Montpellier’s Fabre Museum with broad collections of Flemish, Neoclassicism and 19th Century Romantic paintings, and continue to the Paul Valéry museum in Sète, which showcases regional contemporary art, to Lodève’s Fleury museum, with its large international exhibitions. At the Céret Modern Museum of Art you’ll love the Cubists. In the Cité de Picasso you will have a unique artistic experience in the cradle of the Cubist movement: Braque, Soutine, Chagall, Matisse.


UNESCO heritage

Visitors to the region are usually drawn to the fairytale battlements of Carcassonne's Cité in the Aude district, a UNESCO-World Heritage Listed medieval citadel. Cathar castles dot the countryside to the south, where the stark hillscapes of the Corbiéres are dotted with crumbling ruins, the most dramatic of which is Peyrepertuse.

Lovers of medieval monasteries have plenty to choose from. There's the stark Romanesque simplicity of the abbey church at St-Guilhem-le-Désert and the soaring Gothic buttresses of the Abbaye de Valmagne. Further south, just outside Narbonne, is perhaps the best-preserved, most dramatically beautiful abbey of the Languedoc, the Fontfroide, run by the Cistercian order. Devotees of the Fauvists should head to the southern town of Collioure, where this school of artists, including Detain, Braque and Mattisse, lived.

Languedoc Roussillon

There’s also evidence of Roman presence, including the amphitheatre in Nîmes, in the Gard district. This part of France was one of the first to be conquered Rome's legions — and the first to be planted with vines, leaving an enduring legacy, the oldest winemaking region in the country.
Cruising along the ancient Canal du Midi in the Hérault district and walking or cycling along the tow paths is a popular way to take in the history and have some fun.

Wine and dine

The wines of this vast area, once dismissed as mass produced vins de table, are now at the cutting edge of French winemaking. There's a score of appellations scattered throughout the area, the most famous of which are probably Minervois, Corbiéres, Fitou, Coteaux du Languedoc and Côtes du Roussillon.

The Languedoc may not yet be accorded the respect of Burgundy, Bordeaux, Alsace or the Rhône Valley, but its treasures are worth seeking out. Amid the high volume is a background of wines that are made by enlightened producers and as distinctive and memorable as the best from anywhere. The region’s traditional varieties, such as carignan, have been replanted and augmented with more market-savvy choices, many of which are found in Australian vineyards.

Languedoc Roussillon

The culinary influences are equally diverse, benefiting from the area's quality ingredients – and earning the region’s chefs 27 Michelin stars between them. As well as artists, Collioure in the Pyrénées-Orientales district is famous for its anchovies, then there are oyster beds of Bouzigues, the eels of Bages, and shoals of bass and other fish scudding along the coast. Inland, pigs and sheep have always been an important part of the local food chain, while wild boar is popular in the hunting season. Head west to the Lauragais and you hit confit country, with Belpech at its centre, which, just before Christmas, holds an annual foire au gras (fat fair).
Many of the traditional peasant dishes are heavily based on vegetables and pulses - dried lentils and haricots in winter or leafier, green vegetables in spring. Autumn is about wild mushrooms and truffle-hunting. There's an abundance of fruit of all kinds — white-fleshed peaches, sweet dark cherries and luscious, full-fleshed figs.
When it comes to finished dishes, you'll find a trio of influences — the garlic and tomato-tinged touches of Provence, a tradition of cooking with duck fat that comes straight from the south-west of France, and more than a hint of Spain in the dishes of Roussillon. The quintessential Languedoc dish, however, is the famous cassoulet, a hearty bean stew, yet with modern, lighter interpretations turning up on menus.
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.

Qualité Sud de France

One way to seek out the best in tourism is to look for the Qualité Sud de France label, which boasts national acknowledgement under the brand Qualité Tourisme, compiling and promoting innovative quality initiatives. Visitors can look for a plaque at the entrance of an establishment, or visit the website Click here

Le Cercle Prestige

With the Prestige Circle label, the Languedoc-Roussillon Regional Tourism committee offers more than 50 high-quality establishments. If you are looking to organise an event, seminar, conference, gala event, film production, cultural event or simply spend some time privately experiencing something exceptional, the Prestige Circle is made especially for you. It gathers together the cream of the region’s tourist delights. You will find chateaux and monuments of prestige, hotels of character, charming residences, Benedictine monasteries, manor houses, grand town houses, country houses, wine estates, gastronomic restaurants and conference centres within reach of the region’s large towns and cities: Nîmes, Montpellier, Carcassonne, Perpignan and Mende.

Things to see

Point of interest