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Oustau Le Bijou
About the Languedoc
Le Languedoc, in the region of Occitanie, is situated between Provence and the Pyrénées, the Mediterranean Sea to the Southeast, Spain to the South. Landscapes of the region vary diversely, with mountain villages, seaside fishing ports, spectacular coastlines, the Cévennes forest, marshes and rice fields of the Camargue, thermal springs, grottos & caves, and vineyards just about everywhere else. The area posesses a number of Unesco World Heritage sites and "Plus Beaux Villages de France" (Most Beautiful Villages of France).
Driving is the best way to see the region, poking into tiny hillside villages, meandering along the Canal du Midi, motoring or biking through vineyards as far as the eye can see, exploring caves & mountain paths. Languedoc has some of the best preserved Roman sites in all of the former Roman Empire. Nîmes has the Pont-de-Gard, the Maison Carrée and the Arènes de Nîmes (in much better shape than the Colliseum in Rome). Prehistoric caves are fascinating (wear a jacket - it can be quite chilly inside.) Ruins of Cathar castles, towns and fortresses from the Hundred Years War, as well as beautiful monestaries, abbeys and churches. The medieval walled towns of Carcassonne and Aigues-Mortes in the Camargue, are must-see stops. (If you only have time for one, go to Carcassonne.) The Camargue also has pink flamingos, wild white horses & black bulls, all of which can be seen on a drive through the area. There are many ancient towns such as Narbonne, Perpignan, Pézenas, St. Guilhem le Désert, Minerve and many others, as well as charming seaside ports with fishing boats or beaches along sandy Mediterranean shores. The Cévennes and Pyrénées mountain ranges offer hiking, biking and river sport opportunities. One can take a guided tour of the famous Roquefort cheese caves, as well as visit other sheep and goat cheese makers. There is a boat tour of the oyster fields in Mèze, with oyster tasting and wine, of course.
The Languedoc is the hottest region of France and boasts the most days of sunshine in France - over 300 a year! Its Mediterranean climate means hot, dry summers and mild spring & fall seasons. Winter tends to be rainy, but mild, unless you're in the Pyrénées or Cévennes mountains, where you can expect snow.
Languedoc-Rousillon, the modern name for the region, which includes the Pyrénées-Orientales (Eastern Pyrenees), is the largest wine growing region in all of France. It produces high-quality AOC wines in red, rosé and white, including the famed wines from Picpoul-de-Pinet, and the prized vineyards of Minerve (Le Muscat de Saint-Jean-de-Minervois) and Saint Chinian. Many vineyards offer free wine tastings ("dégustations").
Gastronomy varies by region, within the Languedoc. Restaurants feature specialties such as fresh fish & shellfish from the Mediterranean (oysters from Bouzigues), mountain cheeses (tommes, chèvres & roquefort), cassoulet (from Carcassonne & Castelnaudary), confit de canard, olives, truffles, garlic, wild boar and sausages. Apricots, peaches, figs and cherries abound in orchards, while local asparagus and strawberries are springtime favorites. There are many top-quality restaurants throughout the region (both formal & informal), as well as cafés, bars and brasseries. You can generally expect a very good meal, no matter what kind of establishment you're in. The Languedoc is also home to a number of Michelin starred restaurants, if you feel like splurging.
Languedociens (people from Languedoc) are friendly, and many speak English, although it is of course, always polite to try to speak French, if possible. As with elsewhere, a smile is your best passport to good conversation and service.
Click on any picture below, to enlarge with description.
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