Slow down and spend a week soaking up southern France
COME FOR THE CULTURE, FOOD MARKETS, FRIENDLY PEOPLE AND COLD ROSÉ WINE
When most people think of the south of France, they conjure the French Riveria or the Côte d’Azur’s dazzling blue waters and strolling promenades in glitzy towns like Cannes and Saint Tropez. But move a little further west from Nice and Marseilles to explore the less touristed region of Languedoc-Roussillon. Stretching along the French coast from Montpelier all the way to the border of Spain. Here life exists like it is supposed to, not to the tune of tourists or catering to travelers. Come experience a lovely slow week in Languedoc.
Pick a little village without a well-known name and book a gîte or villa for the week. We were lucky to tag along with friends from Copenhagen to a beautiful spot right outside Saint-André-de-Sagonis and it was perfect. Set in a vineyard five minutes from the unpretentious and not-at-all fancy village, we spent a week soaking up the sun, slurping fresh oysters and sampling the local rosé. The region is known for its wine and we were amazed by the selection.
RENT A GîTE OR VILLA FOR YOUR VACATION
I cannot claim the credit for finding this beautiful gem as it was my good friend’s secret spot and she invited us along with last summer. It was self-catering and all sorts of cozy with a pool on the property where we cooled off every day and a huge outdoor cooking grill and patio where we ate every night.
WANDER THROUGH VILLAGE LANES AND DON’T MISS THE LOCAL MARKETS
We loved the slow, lazy feel of Saint-André-de-Sagonis in summer. Even the patina of imperfection on the buildings felt charming and authentic. Don’t miss the market on Saturdays. Here we found fresh local oysters and vegetables for dinner. But the real joy was sitting at the center café with everyone babbling in French all around you. Take a coffee to enjoy with your fresh pastries, recently procured from the boulangerie down the street and sit and soak up the scene.
DON’T MISS MARKET DAY IN CLERMONT L’HÉRAULT
Only fifteen minutes from our villa was the lovely village of Clermont l’Hérault. Every Wednesday you’ll find a massive market selling all sorts of fresh local vegetables, crafts, goods, flowers, spices and delicious food. I love meandering a market. It give such a good sense of what people eat, how they cook and what a place tastes and smells like. Browse the spice sellers stand for unique flavors and souvenirs to sample back home. A delicious reminder of your travels. I procured some fancy peppercorns, herbs de Provence, a Moroccan spice mix (that I’m almost finished with sadly) and some French mulling spices.
We bought some local saucisson to sample back at the gîte, those gorgeous heirloom tomatoes that taste just like summer and are delicious simply sliced with a bit of sea salt and a splash of olive oil. The sweet onions were amazing on the grill. With dinner provisions tucked safely away in my new French market basket, we found a café for lunch complete with cold rosé of course.
WHAT TO EXPLORE IN THE REGION
Lots of day trips are doable from this region – from swimming in mountain lakes to touring local vineyards. Montpelier is a center of culture and cool with great squares full of cafes. We explored the nearby Camargue region and saw flamingos and other flocks of fowl at the Parc Ornithologique du Pont de Gau. Don’t miss quirky and mystical Saint Maries-de-la-Mer and the medieval walled city of Aigues-Mortes. Or wonder at the well-preserved ancient Roman architecture in Nîmes and Pont-du-Gard. I wished we’d had time to go hiking in the gorgeous (sorry – had to) Gorges du Tarn, but we’ll save that for next time.
- Explore the Camargue to find flamingos
- Saintes-Maries-de-la-Mer & Aigues-Mortes
- Roman Nîmes
- Pont du Gard Roman aqueduct
- Gorges du Tarn
- Grands Causses Natural Regional Park
- Castle city of Carcassone
HOW TO GET TO LANGUEDOC
It is easiest to fly into Montpellier–Méditerranée Airport, but you may find affordable fares to Nice Côte D’Azur Aiport or Toulouse-Blagnac Airport nearby in the region.
By train from Paris Gare de Lyon, the TGV high-speed trains can zip down to Avignon, Nimes, Montpellier or Marseilles.
Or drive the A75 south through gorgeous (literally) natural parks and stunning rocky cliffs.
ENJOY THE SLOW LIFE IN LANGUEDOC
With less tourism infrastructure in the region, Languedoc leaves space to take your time. We loved swimming at the pool to cool off after the heat mid-July. Cooking outside on the open air grill to the tune of cicadas chirping in the trees. Challenge your friends to a rematch of Boules. It’s a beautiful place to unwind for a week.
Get more inspiration for your own grand European road trip here:
Finding Pink Flamingos in the Camargue, France
CRUISE THROUGH THE CROWDS IN COLMAR, FRANCE
CHÂTEAU DE CHEVERNY IS THE ONE YOUR KIDS WILL LOVE IN THE LOIRE
EXPLORING THE SWISS ALPS, A ROYAL RIDE TO MÄNNLICHEN
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36 thoughts on “Linger in the Languedoc Region for an Authentic South of France Experience”
Lovely to read – and I can see the friends were
Siobhan and Gerard!
Was this the little villa from Phoebe of LouMessugo.com? I know she has a rental down there and from your photos it almost looks like it! We considered going down for a visit and staying there, but that trip didn’t pan out! But it sounds like a lovely, off-the-radar region! #FarawayFiles
No not mine! I’m further east, not in Languedoc and would love to host you (and Erin of course) one day.
Still very much a dream!
I’d love to too!!
As you can guess I love everything about this, it’s what the south of France is all about. Staying in a villa/gîte and self-catering from the markets is definitely my favourite way to experience a place. (I can also say that you can find authentic experiences on the Côte d’Azur too especially if you step away from the coast, so next time come my way!) Now I’m longing for a glass of rosé!!
I’d love to explore lesser known Côte D’Azur with your tips Phoebe!
Your photos look so idyllic! Happy memories of when we lived in France and explored some of Languedoc ourselves.
Ah thanks kindly Catriona! Lucky you to have had a chance to live in France? Where were you based?
We lived in Pau, in the south-west. So we were often in Toulouse, which was our nearest big city, and made trips to Carcassone, Avignon and around. Albi is gorgeous too! (Not sure if that’s strictly speaking Languedoc…)
So much France to explore!!
Have just rented a flat with my wife in Uzes for 6 wks in April 2022
Looking forward to exploring the region
Ahhh amazing – the area is just lovely – hope you have a fabulous time. Cheers.
Your posts always paint such beautiful pictures of the places you visit, making others want to visit them too. The Languedoc region sounds like the perfect area for relaxation. #farawayfiles
Thanks kindly Allison! Cheers from here.
We loved this area, especially the pink flamingoes
Us too – so beautiful and different!
I can’t tell you how much I love this post. This is everything I love about France and I’m suddenly desperate to be there. The markets, the food, the wine, the weather, and so much more. Just gorgeous Erin. #farawayfiles
Oh thank you Angie – so nice of you. I am a little desperate from some sun – that’s for sure! Cheers from here.
Mmmm I’m salivating – and dreaming of warm summer evenings outside a French villa. #farawayfiles
Me too! Craving those delicious ripe heirloom tomatoes please!
This is such a beautiful part of France, seeing your photos immediately transports me back there. I can’t think of a better way to spend some time with friends.
It is incredible how many fascinating little towns there are in France, so often visitors will head to larger locations and miss these. Ohh for a gîte in the sun. #farawayfiles
Seriously – please – some French sun would be perfect!
This area looks fabulous. I could see spending a week or two here. It reminds me of my long term home exchange in Palamós and makes me wonder why I didn’t drive the several hours to check out this French region. I think the market days are one of the best ways to immerse in the local culture.
Me too! Love love love seeing what is for sale at the local markets!
Oh this area looks SO dreamy, Erin. Just the sort of off the tourist radar place I love – and those daily menus are one of the things I most love about France. Definitely adding this to my must-see list in France. #farawayfiles
I’ve heard this stretch of land is very nice, but I’ve never been. Must admit France is not my first pick when it comes to European countries 🙂 #farawayfiles
Oooooh – I love France – but there are so many travel choices!
You just made Lou Messugo (I know you didn’t stay there) all the more tempting, flamingos I need to see Flamingos #FarawayFiles
I should NOT have read this while hungry. I don;t know what is worse, the loving descriptions of the food, or the pictures! #FarawayFiles
I love a hidden gem and it sounds like you found one! Looks like a great place to unwind for sure. I love the look of that Roman aqueduct, do love a bit of history when I travel!! #FarawayFiles
Looking into flights straight away! Last year we loved wandering around Marseille and years ago when based in Paris spent weeks around Nice. Languedoc sounds like a dreamy gem, plus we can meet up friends from Toulouse! #farawayfiles
What gorgeous photos! Nothing better than lazing the summer days away in sunny France, slurping oysters and supping cold rose. We do love our French holidays, discovering hidden gems. #farawayfiles
Definitely daydreaming about some relaxing time in the south of France now! I love that some of the tiniest towns have the most impressive markets. I would love to see the flamingos in the Camargue someday, too. #farawayfiles
I love France but I never heard of this region! Beautiful photos!
I love to go france. thanks for sharing some tips