The Winegrowers Revolt

Just over a century ago, in June 1907, an estimated 600,000, possibly as many as 800,000, demonstrators packed the streets of Montpellier. Troops sent to quell resistance opened fire on demonstrators in Narbonne, killing six the foot soldiers of a local regiment briefly mutinied in B ziers the pr fecture in Perpignan was burnt to the ground and there were three days of intensive anti-government riots throughout the region. The issue was wine, at the time the main source of income, directly or...

Millau Around

Millau (pronounced mee-yo) squeezes between the Causses Noir and du Larzac near the spot where the Rivers Tarn and Dourbie join each other. Though falling just over the border into the Midi-Pyr n es d partement of Aveyron, it's tied to Languedoc historically and culturally. Famous within France for glove-making, it's also the main centre for the Parc Naturel R gional des Grands Causses and a take-off point for hiking and other outdoor activities - particularly hang-gliding and pa-ragliding,...

Language

Modern French developed from the langue d'o l, a group of dialects spoken north of the River Loire and descended from the vernacular Latin used during the late Gallo-Roman period. The langue d'o l - particularly the Francien dialect that was spoken in the le de France - eventually displaced the langue d'oc, the dialect spoken in the south of the country, and from which the region of Languedoc gets its name. The terms langue d'o l and langue d'oc reflect language distinctions through the...

Getting There Away

When planning your journey to France and onward to Languedoc-Roussillon consider booking flights, tours and rail tickets at www .lonelyplanet.com travel_services. European integration means you'll usually cross fluidly between France and other EU countries without passing through customs or border checkpoints. Arrivals from non-EU countries must show a passport (or identity card for EU citizens) and clear customs. Those entering Roussillon by car from Portbou or the Col d'Ares (Vall e du...

Languedoc Roussillon Outdoors

Long beaches of fine sand stretch for miles along most of Languedoc's coastline, frequently in the form of thin spits of sand that divide sea from saltwater lagoons. These shallower tangs are safe for the children to paddle and splash in - warmer, too, if you're seeking the sun outside summertime. In high season there's scarcely room to sling a towel in resorts such as La Grande Motte, Le Grau du Roi (p83), Palavas-les-Flots (p106) and Le Cap d'Agde (p134). But jump in the car or onto your bike...

Marseillan marseillan plage

Marseillan and Marseillan Plage the relationship closely resembles that between Agde and Le Cap d'Agde, long-established settlement and upstart seaside resort. Except that Marseillan, though a pretty enough lagoon-side town, cannot match Agde's charms and long history. All the investment goes into Marseillan Plage, where you'll find the tourist office and overwhelming crowds in summer. But take a little time to enjoy Marseillan's relative calm, here on the unfashionable side of Le Bassin de...

Environment

For some pointers on responsible travel see p17. Beaches and lagoons, salt pans and vineyards, canals and caves, Mediterranean scrub and Pyrenean peaks the lie of the land in this twinset region is inspir-ingly varied. Roussillon, the southern part embracing 15 of the entire geographic area, shares borders with Spain (south), Andorra (west), Languedoc (north) and the Mediterranean Sea (east). The eastern Pyrenees crash across at majestic heights, climaxing with Languedoc-Roussillon's highest...

Activities

The tourist office has full details of the multiple sailing and windsurfing schools,plusoutfits offering boat hire and boat trips. To really savour the Petite Camargue, take out a canoe or kayak with Plan te Cano Camargue ( 06 23 44 51 63 S Easter-Sep), based below Pont Levant, the swing bridge over the Chenal Maritime. You can browse the canals and inlets or simply pootle around the port. Single seaters cost 10 25 45 per hour half-day full day and doubles 15 35 60. This friendly outfit also...

Skirting La Montagne Noire

This 105km day outing leads you westwards from Carcassonne to Castelnaudary, halfway point on the Canal du Midi. It then follows the flanks of La Montagne Noire through meadows and woodland with the broad, gentle Lauragais plain below and the Pyrenees crowning the southern horizon. Speed along the A61 to Castelnaudary (p183) and allow at least an hour to explore the town. Leave Castelnaudary, following signs for Toulouse, then for St-Papoul and Saissac. Once you join the D103, you stay with it...

Directory

Gay & Lesbian Travellers 257 Travellers with Disabilities 260 Budget options in this guide cost 40 to 60 a night for a double room in a hotel with private shower and toilet midrange covers the 60 to 90 price range and the top end is 90 to 150. With the exception of chambre d'h te and maison d'h te accommodation, rates in this guide don't include breakfast unless stated otherwise. Budget midrange top-end hotels charge about 5 8 12 for it. Tourist offices can tell you which hotels have...

Parc Naturel Rgional Des Grands Causses

The Grands Causses, the Massif Central's most southerly expression, are mainly high, limestone plateau. Scorched in summer and windswept in winter, the stony surface holds little moisture. The least dribble filters through the soft, porous rock to emerge in the valleys at its feet. Beneath the plateaus lies an underground world, scoured out by the waters over millennia, whose caves and fissures make it ideal for cavers. Sheep grazing remains the dominant economic activity. Much of the milk that...

North To Cap Leucate

Clear the built-up maze of dual carriageway and motorway that spaghettis around the airport north of Perpignan and you might just spot a vineyard .or a sign pointing to the forthcoming memorial museum (opening 2010) by la mode French architect Rudy Ricciotti at Camp de Rivesaltes, northwest of exit 41 on the A9. Between 1939 and 1970 some 80,000 people passed through the internment camp - Spanish refugees fleeing the Franco dictatorship in 1940, Jews en route to Auschwitz during WWII, German...

The Camel Of Beziers

You've never seen a stranger beast, with its sharp steel teeth and a neck that could belong to some giant bird of fable. And anyway, with only one hump it is, strictly and pedantically speaking, a dromedary. No matter. This odd creation, carried by four men who totter beneath it, takes to the streets every 28 April in honour of the town's patron saint, St Aphrodise, on his special day. St Aphrodise, so the story goes, came to Beziers from Egypt around AD 60, riding his faithful camel....

History

The region was inhabited around one million years ago. Around 450,000 BC prehistoric man settled in Tautavel near Perpignan archaeologists discovered l'homme de Tautavel (Tautavel man) in 1971 in the Arago Cave here, the homo erectus human skull with large eye sockets and little chin being among Europe's oldest human remains. Watching archaeologists continue their excavations is a highlight of Tautavel's Mus e de le Pr histoire (p235). Neanderthal hunters occupied the Mediterranean coast during...

The High Road

One of Languedoc-Roussillon's most dramatic drives, the D86 links Collioure and Port Vendres with Banyuls-sur-Mer (18km and 16km respectively). Either approach - the roads from Collioure and Port Vendres meet on the Col de Mollo (231m), just east of the medieval Tour Madeloc (652m) - is unforgettable, and it only gets better as the road, scarcely more than a single-lane track with the odd bay for cars to pass, climbs above vineyards, almond and fig groves, through scrub and past bare schist...

Drinking

Place de la Com die buzzes with caf s to drink, grab a bite and watch street entertainers. Place Jean Jaur s and more intimate place St-Ravy are also popular. Find dense concentrations of student drinking venues around rue en Gondeau, off Grand Rue Jean Moulin, around place Jean Jaur s and near the intersection of rue de l'Universit and rue de la Candolle. L'Heure Bleue ( 04 67 66 41 05 1 rue de la Carbonnerie S Tue-Sun) This tearoom evokes the 18th-century spirit of historic hotel Baudon de...

Lac Des Bouillouses Font Romeu

This protected nature reserve sits in the heart of the harsh Massif du Carlit from where, at the foot of its highest granite peak, Pic Carlit (2912m), the region's longest river has its source. Almost immediately, the River Conflent (or T t) is tamed by Lac des Bouillouses (2017m), the reserve's largest lake, dammed between 1903 and 1909 to power the first trains along the valley. Crowds flock here in July and August to walk around the lake and pick up other scenic walking trails into the...

Highflyer John Pendry

With two world-champion titles under his belt and a growing family under his wing, John Pendry stopped flying competitively in 1999 - although just how firmly his feet have been planted on the ground since is another matter altogether. As a mad-passionate, extraordinarily talented paraglider-turned-kite-surfer living a whisker away from one of the world's windiest spots, he can, should he want to, fly sky-high most days of the year. 'In La Franqui there are 250 days of the year with wind of at...

Food Drink

A real gastronomic voyage, French Leave sees Michelin-starred chef John Burton Race flee the rat race for the slow life in Languedoc with wife, six kids and puppy in tow. Insights into the life of local producers and plenty of seasonal recipes pepper this food-fuelled travelogue. No culinary dish better evokes the Languedoc kitchen than cassoulet, an earthy stew of white beans and meat that fires passionate debate everyone knows best which type of bean and meat hunk should be thrown in the...

Canal Du Midi

It all starts - or ends, depending upon where you're coming from - with an almost inconspicuous flow of fresh water into the salty lagoon of Le Bassin de Thau. Here beside La Pointe des Onglous there's just a tiny harbour and the stubby finger of a lighthouse to mark the occasion. Only a few kilometres countercurrent brings you to the first of the canal's minor engineering miracles, completed in 1680, the year before the canal's inauguration. Le Bassin d'Agde is not only France's but the...

Castles Caves

Nothing could be more starkly romantic than Ch teaux de Lastours 04 68 77 56 02 http chateauxlastours.lwd.fr in French Lastours adult child 5 2 5 9am-8pm Jul amp Aug, 10am-5pm or 6pm Apr-Jun, Sep amp Oct, 10am-5pm Sat, Sun amp school holidays Feb, Mar, Nov amp Dec, closed Jan , four ruined castles perched on a rocky spur high above the River Orbiel and its tributary, the Gr silhou. The oldest pair, the northernmost of the Cathar fortresses, remained unconquered and only fell to the crusader...

Max Djean

Max D jean lives in a trim villa right beside his Mus e Pyren en de Niaux. You feel it has to be this way since the museum consumes such a large part of his time and passion. His love for the area is manifest and his roots go deep - very deep. 'We know our family has lived hereabouts ever since the 16th century. Maybe longer,' he says, adding with a twinkle, 'Mind you, my great grandfather spent 10 years in California. If his wife hadn't persuaded him to come back to the mountains, I might be...

The Culture

Affinity to the region gets a look in, but in the face of a turbulent history chequered with religious persecution, shifting boundaries and peoples, it plays second fiddle to the terroir land that sits on one's immediate doorstep it is the hamlet, village or town where they were born and live to which locals exhibit the staunchest loyalty. Nothing demonstrates this more fiercely than the gusto with which local festivals are embraced. From the dance-mad carnival in Limoux, which keeps the town...

Sallles daude

Sall les, sitting prettily beside the Canal de la Robine barely 4km east of Le Somail, has been a wine town ever since Roman times. It's at the northern extremity of the Parc Naturel R gional de la Narbonnaise en Mediterran e, a protected area of countryside that loops around Narbonne in an inverted crescent and meets the Atlantic south of Sigean. What better place for the Romans to establish a pottery works than here, with water, clay and wood to hand and a ready market in amphorae for...

Getting Around

Despite what feels like an overdose of hills and cols mountain passes , cycling is an inspired way to get around Languedoc-Roussillon -an area blessed with quiet back roads, relatively light traffic and dozens of urban and rural pistes cyclables cycling paths on the coast there are several, while pedalling along Canal du Midi towpaths is an unsurpassable Languedoc pleasure. By law your bicycle must have two functioning brakes, a bell, a red reflector on the back and yellow reflectors on the...

Valle De Lorb Pzenas

This circular driving route 135km including the Olargues detour takes you up the vine-clad Vall e de l'Orb - where there's the opportunity for swimming, kayaking and canoeing - and into the Parc Natural R gional du Haut-Languedoc. Here, it takes in a couple of lonely villages, a small spa town and, to round off the day, a sumptuous, well-preserved 17th-century township. Leave B ziers by the ring road, following signs for B darieux, then continue straight, signed Cazouls-l s-B ziers, where the B...

Parc National Des Cvennes

Drier, hotter and in general leafier than the Auvergne to its north, the C vennes region has more in common with Mediterranean lands. Dotted with isolated hamlets, the park harbours a huge diversity of fauna and flora an astounding 2250 plant species have been logged . Animals such as red deer, beavers and vultures, long gone from the park, have been successfully reintroduced. The park covers four main areas Mont Loz re, Mont Aigoual, the Vall es C venoles C vennes Valleys , and much of the...

Muse Des Beaux Arts

Carcassonne s fine arts museum 04 68 77 73 70 1 rue de Verdun, La Ville Basse admission free S 10am-6pm mid-Jun-mid-Sep, 10am-noon amp 2-6pm rest of yr displays paintings from the 17th to late 19th centuries. Highlights include a striking Larmes de St Pierre Tears of St Peter by Jos Ribera in the first gallery three portraits with finely detailed ruffs and embroidery by the 17th-century Flemish artists Michiel Janszoon van Mierevelt and Paul Moreelse Les Ch rifas, a vast oriental-exotic canvas...