Languedoc Roussillon

 

Languedoc Roussillon is a historically recent joining of two different provinces: Languedoc and Roussillon.  They stretch from the mouth of the Rhône to the foothills of the Pyrenees and the Spanish border.  Languedoc once spoke Occitan, the language of the Troubadours and gained it's name from the Language - Langue d'Oc!  Roussillon was owned by Spain until 1659 and has a rich, Catalan Heritage including Bullfighting, Paella, Sardanas and mementos of older languages that are in everyday use - such as audible 's's at the end of some words and names.

The flat beaches and lagoons of the coast form a purpose-built sunbelt accommodating millions of holiday-makers every year and in the hinterland is a dry, sunburned land producing half of France's table wine and the season's first peaches and cherries that leads up into rugged mountains and gorges which still excite awe in all who see them.

This stretch of coastline was the first place in Gaul to be settled by the Romans, their enduring legacy evident in the great amphitheatre at Nîmes, the magnificent engineering of the Pont du Gard and still existing Roman Roads.  The abbeys of Saint-Martin-du-Canigou, Saint-Michel-de-Cuxa and Saint Guilhem-le-Désert are superb examples of early Romanesque architecture, unaffected by Northern Gothic influences.

The great craggy Cathar castles scattered throughout the region and the perfectly restored medieval Cité of Carcassonne bear witness to the bloody battles of the Middle Ages.

In parts, the region remains wild and untamed: from the high plateaux of the Cerdagne, to the wild hills of the Corbières or the remote uplands of Languedoc. But it also has the most youthful and progressive cities in France: Montpellier, the ancient university city and capital of the region, and Nîmes with its exuberant Feria and bullfights.

The whole area is typified by an invigorating mix of ancient and modern, from Roman temples and post-modern architecture in its cities to solar power, wind farms and ancient abbeys in the mountains.

 

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