Posted on 02 June 2010 by Dan Johnson
In a nutshell
How to describe Languedoc? Well, it’s the bit of France’s Mediterranean coast that most of us can’t name without being prompted, ie, it’s not the Cote d’Azur. But being the south of France, you still get buckets of sunshine, incredible beaches, a relaxed attitude to life and beautiful scenery.
While the weather and Med coast are the main temptation, another draw is Languedoc’s wine producing pedigree: this is the world’s biggest wine region, covering almost 300,000 hectares and producing more wine than Australia.
Vias beach is separated into little sandy bays, and all the kids fish for crabs and tiddlers around the rocks, which is great fun [TripAdvisor member, Glasgow]
There’s a long stretch of beach at Cap d’Adge and free parking near to the marina. If you’re feeling brave, there’s a famous nudist beach nearby too.
Valras Plage has a long beach that gently shelves into the sea, making it ideal for swimming, sailing and sunbathing. Valras Plage harbour is home to some delightful bars and restaurants, many of which offer live music during the evening.
Explore local coastline and discover gorges and coves. La Grand Motte, Carnon and Palavas beaches are golden beaches just 10 minutes away from Lac des Reves.
Attractions and Adventure
Europark in Vias has plenty of rides for all the family, and a candy floss stall with about 50 different flavours on offer! There is also go-karting and mini golf next door. [TripAdvisor member, the Midlands]
Aqualand in Cap d’Agde has giant flumes, waterslides and a wave machine. [Top tips] get your tickets from the siblu reception so you can bypass the entrance queues and save money, and keep hold of your tickets – you can use them to buy tickets for another day at a fraction of the price [TripAdvisor member, Essex)
Captain Jackos toddler waterpark in Cap d’Agde is excellent for little kids.
Visit the historic Canal du Midi, which took 12,000 men to build. You won’t have time to explore the entire 235km, but book a boat, bicycle or horse for a fantastic day-long sightseeing activity.
Hire canoes at Roquebon, a very pretty mountain village on the River Orb, and enjoy hours of fun on the water. Top tip: you are given a waterproof pod so take your camera, suncream, towels and a picnic. [TripAdvisor member, Essex]
The Haribo sweet museum in Uzes provides a potted history of sweets, and in exchange for your entrance fee you are given tokens for the sweet-making machines found throughout. [TripAdvisor member, Tenerife]
Each year the local casino sponsors the fantastic Fete de la Saint-Pierre in Valras Plage in June, to put on free concerts, boat races and fantastic fireworks – great stuff [Jason, Siblu]
Cities and towns
Montpellier mixes old and new beautifully, to present a fabulous array of sights, buildings, shops and a great selection of restaurants. Head to the Place de Comedie, the pink-marbled heart of the city, for an afternoon spent people watching. Explore the side streets and find boutique shops and authentic cafés and restaurants, serving tasty ‘plat du jours’.
Cap d’Agde is billed as a smaller version of St Tropez. It’s a modern bustling port which offers an impressive selection of shops, restaurants and bars. As well as indulging in eating, drinking, shopping and yacht-spotting, you could always hire a boat or go diving.
Carcassonne is a Unesco World Heritage Site and it has been described as the finest medieval fortified town in Europe. Carcassone’s castle featured in Robin Hood Prince of Thieves, there are fantastic museums of chivalry and the middle ages (one where kids can be knighted), plus lots of good walks and loads of pavement cafés when it all becomes too much!
Sète has built up on the banks of the Canal du Midi, and its streets are lined by shops and restaurants. There are great views of the Italian-style houses and some of the fastest sailboats in the world.
St Guilhem-le-Desert is a World Heritage Site which has been designated a ‘Plus Beaux Villages’, one of the most beautiful villages in France. There are Bronze Age gorges and caves packed with art and craft shops and hidden houses, yet despite the awards and beauty, St Guilhem has remained refreshingly modest. On the way back stop off at Pont du Diablo, and huge bridge which spans a gorgeous lake. If you don’t mind climbing down the steep path, the chance to swim in the lake is really worth taking.
Vias sur Plage is a bustling seaside stretch, and venture further and you will find Vias Old Town, which is all tiny squares and cobbled streets, where there is a twice weekly market packed with fresh produce, including oysters and mussels.
Food and restaurants
Le Pescadou in Vias was our favourite – fantastic fish & sea-food [TripAdvisor member, Glasgow]
I tried snails at Vieux Logis in Vias Old Town, and they were very good, and very garlicy [TripAdvisor member, Warrington]
El Duende in Pérols serves great value local food and a gipsy band plays live music at weekends, creating a great atmosphere [Amandine Daniaud, Lac des Reves]
Stalls around Montpellier’s Les Arceaux organic market are packed with fragrant cheeses, regional wines and local specialities like Camargue sausages and Collioure anchovies and the Place de la Comédie, Montpellier’s best-place to people watch, bursts at the seams every morning with organic fruit, honey, herbs and olive oil.
Take a late-night stroll through the regional markets in the ancient town of Sete, just 20 miles from Le Lac des Reves. The food market takes place in the Place du Galion aux Quilles every Thursday from July 5 until August 30, and is open from 16h to midnight.
The famous indoor market at Narbonne provides an assault on your senses – there are sacks of aromatic spices combining with the strong smells of freshly caught fish, the waft of cheeses and the odours from many stoves, griddles and pans as traders cook their wares. Les Halles de Narbonne has become an institution, and is a must-see on any Destination Cooking holiday. The market opens daily from 6h to 13h.
For another fantastic covered market, try the popular Les Halles de Nimes which opens everyday between 0630 and 1300. Stalls trade local delights including fresh vegetables, succulent olives, and garlic – the cornerstone of many a south-coast meal. There are even freshly snuffled truffles available for those planning a luxurious meal.
Sand sculpture festival on Cap d’Agde’s Plage de Rochelongue. [May 2010]
Cap d’Agde stages its stunning Soirées Pyrotechniques in July – five nights of fireworks displays that locals say are on a par with any across the world. [July 2010]
Nimes’ Le Feria de la Petanque is a five-day celebration of petanque which features a knock out tournament for teams from across the world, plus performances and entertainment. [July 2010]
Carcassone hosts more than 70 free concerts, many at incredible venues, as part of its Festival de Bastide through July. [July 2010]
Where to stay
La Carabasse in Vias is a huge holiday parc with a fab pool area and slides that are brill for children. The location is great, with beaches shops and restaurants in walking distance and the kids will love the energetic and engrossing clubs.
Lac des Reves is a truly relaxing family site close to the Mediterranean coast and Montpellier. There is a highly rated pool and large sandy beaches nearby.
Sables du Midi is a small parc with a relaxing pool and terrace, on the outskirts of the popular seaside resort of Valras Plage