- The Via Domitia. Archaeology. The old Roman road goes straight through the village of Colombiers on its way from coast to coast, coming down from Malpas.
- The church of Saint-Sylvestre – Sainte-Colombe original Visigothic architecture of the 5th to 7th centuries
- Colombiers chateau wine cellars. The cellars were built in 1870, and are part of the town’s heritage.
- Malpas. Three tunnels in a vertical stack through the rock.
- The Ensérune oppidium. Archaeology. Site of an ancient Gallic village. Among the largest of the SouthMediterranean.
- The dry étang Montady–Colombiers. Exceptional view from the Ensérune oppidium.
Béziers is built upon a solid, unyielding stone bluff forming a bend in the Orb river, against which the town holds all the traces of its history. Its beautiful houses, and its churches have seen many a dramatic historical event unfold. You never know whether to be amazed or to shiver when you think of all the ghosts of the town’s violent past when you stroll from Roman church to cathedral. At the Madeleine, in 1167, Raymond Trencavel was assassinated and in 1209 several hundred Cathars and their sympathisers were burned alive.
Happily the town’s history has its lighter side, most particularly in the traditions of wine production and art. A passion and a talent for art is evident everwhere in the city, where the works of architects and sculptors can be admired at every turn, notably the sculptor Injalbert. This elegant face of the city also has its expression in the Canal du Midi, which was begun here by one of the town’s most famous sons, Paul Riquet. The waterways of Béziers, river and canal, are vital transport links in taking the region’s wine to far horizons. In the 19th century Béziers became the undisputed capital of the Languedoc wine producing region, and today enhances that spiritied tradition with bullfighting and rugby!
Festivals In the summer time there are several open air concerts and other activities. In July the people of Béziers celebrate the Fèsta d’Oc and around the 15th of August the Feria. 14 juli is of course the National French holiday with parties and fireworks everywhere.
Give unto Narbonne what is Caesar’s! Narbonne – Narbo Martius – founded in 118 BC, is none other than the very first Roman colony to be established outside Italy…
Narbonne’s 2500 years of history describe better than any guide ever could why walking around the streets is a voyage back through time. The polished stones of the Via Domitia are the first evidence you’ll come across.
Antiquity, Middle-ages, Renaissance, The Golden age of wine making of the end of the 19th century, the rich and varied past of Narbonne has left the city a magnificent heritage which classified monuments and museums will help you to discover in your own time, or with one of the many guided tours.
Located in the Hérault district, between Béziers and Montpellier, 25 km from the Mediterranean, Pézenas historical centre, under the law of protection of the architectural heritage, has retained the charm of its private mansions opening onto courtyards or gardens, and of its cobbled streets. Languedoc’s governors (the Montmorency family and the Prince of Conti) have made Pézenas their capital. From its prestigious past, Pézenas has kept a beautiful architectural “ensemble” of buildings from the 15th to 18th century.
The Saturday market and the antique fairs in May and October punctuate the local agenda. The summer begins with the opening of the festival Mirondela dels Arts, including street music and plays, exhibitions, shows. During the season some activities take place at night: late opening of craftsmen workshops on Wednesdays and Fridays until midnight, theatrical tours, the Summer vine festival on Friday evenings in July and August…
Pézenas was also awarded the label of “Town of Arts and Crafts” because about thirty crafts- men live there all year round and create pieces of craftwork. The range of skills is wide: thea- tre costume maker, puppet maker, mosaic maker, jewellers, fashion designers, wrought iron maker, stone carvers, potters, wood carver, stained glass maker, wood turner, ….
The Petits Pâtés, a sweet and salty speciality, were given to Pézenas’ bakers by Lord Clive of India in 1768 and are the original recipe of the English mince pies. Another delicacy, the Ber- lingot, a boiled sweet, produced in Pézenas by the sweets maker since the 18th century is made with natural flavours.
Pézenas has had a Protected Area (Secteur sauvegardé) since June 1965, the 14th created by the French Ministry of Culture. The ministry lists 116 historical edifices in Pézenas, more than 30 of which are protected after being classified “Historical Monuments”. The main sights include:
- The old town centre with narrow streets and Hôtel Privet or Mansions (rather grand Town Houses from the 16th, 17th and 18th centuries, when Pézenas was the seat of the Governors of Languedoc): hôtel de Lacoste, hôtel de Carrion-Nizas, hôtel de Landes de Saint Palais, hôtel Flottes de Sebazan, hôtel d’Alfonce, hôtel Malibran, hôtel l’Epine, hôtel Grasset.
- The Collégiale Saint-Jean church (18th century), designed by Jean-Baptiste Franque, contains an organ by Jean François Lépine.
- Church of Saint-Jean-de-Bébian, romanesque, classed as a Monument historique (Historic monument).
- The church of Sainte-Ursule, built in 1686 by the master mason Antoine Carrier, became the parish church after the Concordat.
- Molière Monument (1897) by Jean-Antoine Injalbert.
- Theatre: What became a theatre was originally built in 1590 as a church – the Chapelle des Pénitents Noirs (chapel of the Black Penitents). After the French Revolution, it was sold as a national asset and converted to a theatre in 1803. Its present internal appearance dates from a general renovation between 1899 and 1901. Subsequently unchanged, it was used as a theatre until it closed in 1947. The building contains souvenirs of Molière. The property of the commune, the theatre has been classified since 1995 as a monument historique by the French Ministry of Culture.Following more than 10 years of renovation, the richly decorated theatre reopened in May 2012 and may be visited by the public.
- L’illustre Théâtre: theatre in converted warehouse, performances all year.
- Musée de Vulliod Saint-Germain: museum with collections illustrating the town’s history and a room dedicated to Molière. The hôtel particulier that hosts the museum was donated to the city by François, Baron de Vulliod, during the Second World War.
- Door museum
- Toy museum
Carcassonne boasts an excellent location in the south of France on the road to Lourdes, just 1hr from Toulouse and 3hr from Barcelona.
The medieval city of Carcassonne was built on the ruins of an old Roman fortress and found itself at the centre of the Albigensian Crusade in the 13C. After the settlements at the foot of the city were destroyed, King St Louis authorised the local inhabitants to build a new town in 1245. This became known as the Bastide Saint Louis.
Today, Carcassonne is renowned across the globe thanks to its two UNESCO World Heritage sites, the Medieval City and the Canal du Midi.
Not to be missed
- The Medieval City with its 52 towers and 3km of ramparts.
- Basilique Saint Nazaire (11C-13C) and its stained-glass windows (12C-16C).
- The count’s castle (11C-13C) with its rampart walk, lapidary museum and model of the city.
- The old bridge, once the only link between the upper and lower towns.
- Bastide Saint Louis (13C) with its many town houses, Saint Michel cathedral, Saint Vincent church, the market hall and covered market, and Place Carnot, the site of the local market and a meeting point for locals.
- Canal du Midi, a major feat of engineering designed by Pierre Paul Riquet during the reign of Louis XIV (17C) to link the Mediterranean with the Atlantic.
- The many superb sites, such as abbeys and castles, of the Pays Cathare around Carcassonne.
- Wine estates just a stone’s throw from the medieval city where enthusiastic wine producers are happy to share their knowledge and expertise with visitors.
Festival de Carcassonne (June-August): theatre, circus, opera, classical music, dance and concerts
Montpellier is a city of modern and historic treasures and a crossroads for the Mediterranean, A distinctive and exceptional destination.
The city’s medieval origins such as it narrow streets in the historic centre, the Place de la Comédie, the Faculty of Medicine, the Peyrou Royal Square and other marvels, will beguile the curious the world over. It is also a modern metropolis open to architecture, the sciences, contemporary culture and leisure.
With its history as a place through which people passed, Montpellier is vibrant, young and lively. It enjoys the appeal of its weather, its green and airy pedestrianised city-centre and lures visitors with its shops and convivial spots.
As a place where people meet and a land of passion and sharing too, it also lies between sea and vines, where just outside the city-centre you can sample local products and age-old traditions.
The Capital of French Catalonia
Perpignan, the last big city before the Spanish border, is the capital of the Pyrenees Orientales department in the Languedoc-Roussillon region. Located at the foot of the Pyrenees and but a few kilometres from the sea, it boasts a long list of assets and acts as a bridge between Barcelona and the south of France.
This Catalan-flavoured city is set in a picture-perfect natural environment: next to the Mediterranean coast with renowned holiday destinations like Collioure, mountain ranges including the imposing Canigou massif, the vineyards and orchards of the Roussillon plain…
A university town rich in art and history, Perpignan seduces with its contrasts, with its oft-exuberant vitality and relaxed hospitality. You’ll be charmed by its Mediterranean architecture, its winding medieval streets and the lively squares lined with palm trees. The ever-present sunshine inspires simplicity and strolling about, or shopping in the many boutiques and sweetly scented Southern markets.
For centuries now, Perpignan has been a land of refuge, welcoming people of different backgrounds that have today permeated the city’s culture and lifestyle.
Do not miss
The city has kept many of the cultural treasures accumulated over the past centuries, particularly from its Golden Age as the Kingdom of Majorca. The following major sites clearly testify to this:
- The Palace of the Kings of Majorca, a 14th-century palace-fortress ;
- The Loge de la Mer, once the city’s commercial and maritime jurisdiction ;
- The splendidly Gothic City Hall and Palace of the Deputation ;
- The Castillet, in turn a castle, city gate and prison, is today’s emblem of Perpignan ;
- The Saint-Jean-Le-Baptiste Cathedral and Campo Santo, the largest cloister cemetery in France ;
- Saint-Jacques Church, departure point for the solemn Sanch Procession every Good Friday ;
- The Hyacinthe Rigaud Museum, with a notable Catalan Gothic art collection and modern paintings by Maillol, Picasso…
Modern architecture has also made a place for itself, as can be seen with the new TGV train stationand, along the Tech River, the Théatre de l’Archipel complex designed by Jean Nouvel.
For a veritable taste of Catalan culture, try to remember some of these names: boles de Picoulat, bullinada, vegetable escalivada, snails à la catalane, bougnettes, ollada, brazo de gitano…
Wine lovers also have much to get excited about! The area is famous for its muscat and grenache grapes, for its red, white and rosé wines from vineyards with melodic names like Côtes du Roussillon, Rivesaltes, Collioure, Banyuls…
- Tilt Festival, the place-to-be for electronic music fans (March)
- Confrontation Film and History Festival (Spring)
- Fête de la Saint Jean celebrations (June)
- Les Jeudis de Perpignan, or Perpignan Thursdays, filling the streets with music, theatre and animations (every summer Thursday)
- Guitares au Palais Festival, held at the Palace of Majorca (last weekend of August)
- Visa pour l’image Festival, the biggest international photojournalism event (beginning of September)
- Jazzèbre Festival, a three-week musical journey through the sounds of jazz and world music (September-October)
- Festival de la Voix, reuniting musicians, singers and speech pathologists for a music-filled weekend (October)
Valras-Plage has all the charm of Deauville and Biarritz.This former fishing village, located at the mouth of the river Orb has kept its charm of yesteryear with its waterfront, its beautiful villas of the turn of the century, its traditional market hall and Casino.
Valras-Plage has become a modern seaside resort with excellent tourist facilities, water oriented activities and lots of events. Away from the usual tourist destinations, Valras-Plage is a lively and harmonious place in which to live or to visit.
If fishing and the sea bathing dear to the Dukes of Berry were the wealth of Valras-Plage in the past, it is tourismwhich allowed the town to develop.
- Sandy beach (> 4 km).
- Entertainment for kids (high season only)
- Marina and watersport facilities
- ‘Les Halles Marty’ – food market
- Nomada Bar/Restaurant on the beac front in Valras
- Nightlife: casino, bars, restaurants, clubs
- Sandy beaches (6,5 km), split in two by a rock plateau.
- Kitesurfing, zeilen, beach volleybal and beach rugby.
- Daily market
- Nightlife: bars, restaurants, clubs
Canoeing down the River Orb
Canoeing down the River Orb – Roquebrun (45 minute drive)
Boating on the Canal du Midi
Boating on the Canal du Midi. Excursions and rental boats available in Colombiers harbour.
Cycling along the Canal du Midi
Cycling along the Canal du Midi. Bike rental in Colombiers Harbour.
Traditional markets in villages and towns with fresh fish, local produce and antiques. For a full overview of markets click here
Parc Naturel Regional du Haut-Languedoc
Vers Pont du Diable, Gorges de l’Hérault – Hérault, le Languedoc© Photothèque Hérault Tourisme – Julie Noclercq
Parc Naturel Regional du Haut-Languedoc (It has an area of 2,605 km²) with mountains, lakes, caves and rivers. The park provides a habitat for more than 240 species of birds, in a stunningly diverse range of climate and scenery. It also provides a home for mouflons, successfully reintroduced from Corsica. Natuurpark Haut Languedoc
Zwemmen en picknicken op de oevers van de Orb
Swimming in the river or a cosy family picknick on the banks of the river Orb at the town of Cessenon. http://www.ot-saint-chinian.com/Decouvrir/Nature/REALS
Golf St. Thomas Béziers
Golf St. Thomas Béziers, 18 holes golf course with country club/restaurant www.golfthomas.com
Other activities in the Hérault departement in the Languedoc region