High 5: Must-see in the Languedoc
The Languedoc is a perfect French holiday destination with Mediterranean beaches, mountains and national parks, and offers a wonderful climate, fascinating wildlife, rich cuisine, a beautiful coast and chic resorts. The area has an astonishing history with ancient towns and villages with spectacular Greek and Roman architecture. It’s so fantastic I’m planning to have a hen party holiday there ahead of my wedding next year!
Carcassonne, France’s most famous and evocative medieval citadel, is a UNESCO World Heritage site and the third most visited place in the country. Head to the Château Comtal’s museum within the Cité’s ramparts and visit the breathtaking Basilica of Saint-Nazaire and Saint-Celse before heading to Le Marcou for lunch.
Drive up the steep hill to the small town of Rennes-le-Chateau, the centre of many conspiracy theories about buried treasure and the rumoured burial place of the Holy Grail. These stories influenced Dan Brown, author of the worldwide bestseller, The Da Vinci Code. Visit the Church of Saint Mary Magdalene and savour the splendid views from the Tour Magdala.
Located in the foothills of the Pyrenees, Quillan is a glorious and thriving town with eateries and road-side cafés galore. Stroll along the Pont Vieux and wander up to the chateau overlooking the town before grabbing a bite to eat at Le Palace, a family-run establishment, for a wonderful lunch outside on the sunny terrace, or just quietly watch the world go by while sipping an apéritif. This is also a great area for fans of bird watching and horse-riding.
Perched on the edge of a spectacular gorge, the picturesque medieval village of Minerve is a former Cathar stronghold, dating back to the 12th century. The best views of the town, with its narrow alleys and 12th century church, and the gorge itself, are from the high bridge over the River Cesse.
The scenic town of Esperaza has something to suit everyone: there’s a bustling Sunday market, delicious savoury crepes at L’Atelier creperie, and Dinosauria – the first French museum dedicated entirely to dinosaurs. Bathe in the natural hot springs in nearby Rennes-le-Bains or take part in other popular local activities include cycling, kayaking, climbing and caving. In the winter, there’s cross-country skiing and snowboarding in the Pyrenees, less than an hour’s drive away.
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