Our choice of must-see towns, monuments and other places of interest.
Related article: You Can Have It All in Languedoc-Roussillon
CANAL DU MIDI
Many operators hire out boats for trips up the Canal du Midi, which links the Med to the Atlantic, with plenty of locks and aqueducts along the way. Towns where you can hire include Castelnaudary and Carcassonne.
CHÂTEAU DE QUÉRIBUS
This gravity-defying Cathar castle is perched 728m up, like an eagle’s nest, atop a steep, rocky pinnacle. You’ll feel like a medieval knight as you negotiate its steep stairways and vertiginous terraces.
CHÂTEAU DE PEYREPERTUSE
One of the best preserved Cathar castles, Peyrepertuse sits on a jagged limestone ridge, with sheer drops all around and views to die for. Drive up from the village of Duilhac or make the hot, dusty hour-long climb by foot. It’s well worth it.
PONT DU GARD
Built in the first century AD to supply Nîmes with water, the Roman aqueduct is most impressive when it crosses the River Gardon on the Pont du Gard. The 50m-high, triple-tiered structure, with 52 arches, was a marvel of engineering in its time – and still is.
CITÉ DE CARCASSONNE
Carcassonne’s citadel, on the hill above the River Aude, is a picture-perfect medieval fortress. Two concentric walls, with crenellated ramparts and 52 pointed towers, surround a town of cobbled streets, courtyards and the inevitable shops selling souvenirs.
NAUTICAL JOUSTING IN SÈTE
Every summer in the Mediterranean town of Sète, rowers in boats propel themselves at top speed towards each other while jousters attempt to bump opponents into the water with huge jousting sticks. Great fun.
LE PETIT TRAIN JAUNE
This beautiful antique narrow-gauge railway links Villefranche-de-Conflent with Latour-de-Carol, crossing 63km of gorges and vertigo-inducing viaducts. Hop on and off to explore some of the prettier mountain villages.
LES ARÈNES DE NÎMES
This stunning twin-tiered Roman amphitheatre from 100BC is still largely intact. In its heyday it echoed to the roars of 24,000 baying spectators as gladiators did their worst. Nowadays you can see concerts, shows and gladiator re-enactments.
Not far northwest of Montpellier, in a steep ravine, is the delightful village of Saint-Guilhem-Le-Désert, with its famous Abbaye de Gellone. In summer there are impressive concerts staged here. The nearby Pont du Diable is also awe-inspiring.
CIRQUE DE NAVACELLES
Geologists call it an incised meander. The Cirque de Navacelles, not far from the Gard village of Blandas, is a bizarre looking land form that beggars belief: a dried up oxbow lake, surrounded by steep mountain walls, with an island rising from the middle.
GORGES DU TARN
For millennia the River Tarn has been carving steep canyons through the limestone of the Lozère. For the best views, start at Sainte-Énimie and drive the twisty road southwest to Le Rozier. Even better, hire a kayak.
Pastel-coloured houses and the shimmering light off the Mediterranean have been luring great artists to this picturesque seaside resort near Perpignan for aeons. There are dozens of galleries and workshops dedicated to fine art.
From France Today magazine