Lily Heise, the blogger behind Je T’aime, Me Neither is INSIDR’s guest writer and in this article she shares some of her best tips to visit the beautiful Languedoc region and cruise the Canal du Midi. Languedoc is usually not as famous as Riviera, Provence or Normandy. Nevertheless it is one of the most beautiful regions in France. And the perfect place to do a road trip and even a boat trip on one of the most famous canal in France!
Located in the southwest of France along the Mediterranean Sea towards the Spanish border, the Languedoc region offers all the delights of you would expect from Provence, however, without the crowds which can overwhelm those areas each summer. Plan a perfect off-the-beaten path holiday to the Languedoc with our useful guide!
Why Go to the Languedoc region
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A fabulous day on our @athosdumidi cruise as we visited the charming town of #Marseillan and @maisonnoillyprat #vermouth, swimming in the #etangdethau and entering the #canaldumidi! See @bargeladycruises for more details! #france #cruise #bargecruise #barge #croisiere #canal #travel #travegram #travefrance #igrsfrance #languedoc
The Languedoc offers an incredible range of destinations and activities from sandy beaches to rugged mountains and from medieval castles to charming villages. Wine tasting, fresh seafood and exceptional fruits and vegetables are also main draws for gastronomes. The waterways, including the sea, rivers and canals, offer a unique venue for boating and watersports while the mountains are ideal for hiking.
How to Visit the Languedoc Region
It’s possible to visit most major destinations in the area by train, however, if you would like to visit the countryside, you may need to rent a car or visit the area by one of the below original means of traveling through the Languedoc.
The best way to visit Languedoc region – cruising along Canal du Midi
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Ship ahoy!! Welcome aboard the @athosdumidi! Take a peak inside this luxury #canalbarge available through the @bargeladycruises on which I’ll be cruising with @jennyphoria this week! #france #languedoc #canal #barge #travel #travelgram #canaldumidi #cruise #cruiseship #cruises #boat #bateau #peniche #croisiere
An excellent and unique way to discover the region is by boating along the Canal du Midi. Built in the late 1600s, it’s Europe’s oldest canal still in use and passes next to or nearby many of the most important sites of the Languedoc. If you have the time and are planning a special trip, then taking a luxurious shared barge cruise could be just the perfect option. The Athos Barge offers a 6-day itinerary which explores all of the highlights of this delightful part of France, notwithstanding its gastronomy. It travels a good section of the canal from the port of Marseillan to the gorgeous historic city of Carcassonne.
Each day offers something new from guided tours to the bourgeois town of Pezenas, the medieval town of Minerve, the Carcassonne Citadel, an amazing olive farm, an independent winery, a famous vermouth distillery and much more. As you sail down the canal you’ll be able to take in the area’s stunning nature, its rolling fields and grape vines, as well as the fascinating engineering of the canal, either while relaxing on the barge’s upper deck or strolling or biking along the towpath. Delicious meals made with regional ingredients and carefully prepared by the barge’s private chef are beautiful served with fabulous local wines on the deck or stylish interior dining room. Accommodation is also cozy and comfortable. It’s a divine experience which will not be quickly forgotten and have you dreaming of returning to this fantastic area. Learn more about it through Barge Lady Cruises.
There are also various companies which rent self-drive boats (no boat license required). If you would like to sleep on the boat, Le Boat has a many options or if it’s for a short day out, you can rent small boats for a few hours in Béziers through Ecocanal. Alternatively, if you’re looking for a shorter cruise, Le Colombiers has hour-long commented cruises and dinner cruises that leave from the Port of Colombiers.
Although it can be undulating, you can do a range of biking in the Languedoc, either along the canal or through the countryside. You can rent a bike or arrange multi-day tours with Relax Bike Tours & Rentals, which has branches along the canal.
What Not to Miss in the Languedoc Region
If you want a good intro to the Languedoc and only have a few days, than you may want to visit Toulouse, the region’s largest city and home to a number of museums, historic sites and a fun vibe thanks to its high population of students. Near the seaside, Montpellier also offers a lovely ambiance and a large popular of young people… plus the beach!
Must visit cities and sites to visit in the Languedoc region
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Magical Minerve… clinging to a rocky cliff the medieval town is rich in history and beauty! A fabulous stop on our @athosdumidi cruise along the #canaldumidi! #france #cruise #bargecruise #barge #croisiere #canal #canaldumidi #travel #travelgram #travefrance #igrsfrance #languedoc #languedocroussillon #minerve #medieval #medievaltimes #village
If you’re interested in history, then you definitely have to venture to Carcassonne, where you’ll find one of Europe’s biggest medieval citadels (book your private guided tour here!). Medieval history and vibrant contemporary life are perfectly blended in the small city of Narbonne, home to the spectacular Bishop’s Palace and cathedral as well as a great covered food market where you can pick up some picnic supplies or sit down for lunch at Chez Babelle, a lively place run by a former rugby player and serving up steaks and other hearty meat dishes straight from the market stalls.
If you have a car, you can also go out to Lastours, medieval hilltop towers abandoned after the crusade against the Albagians or the exquisite village of Minerve, accessible only by one bridge and encircled by a river basin, it also played a crucial role in the crusade. The Abbaye de Fontfroide is a great venue which combines a visit to a medieval monastery with wonderful wine made from the surrounding vines.
If you’re craving the beach, then you’ll also find some beautiful beaches in the pretty port of Sète, famous Cap D’Agde, the lovely setting of Collioure, the vast sandy stretch at Portiragnes or a convenient one outside of Montpellier. Hikers will also be thrilled with the trails in the Black Mountains and the Pyrenees, which also offers great skiing in winter!
What to Eat and Drink in the Languedoc region
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Avec ce temps pluvieux rien de mieux qu'un bon cassoulet accompagné par une bouteille du Château La Tour Boisé 2015 en @aoc_minervois_officiel ??Qu'en pensez-vous? ? @honestcooking #honestcooking #cassoulet #languedoc #fooding #food #tradition #minervois #aocminervois #redwine #foodandwine #instawine #commeenhiver
With an abundance of sunshine, the Languedoc has some exceptional fresh produce which is available at markets in the various towns and villages. Since it has a long coastline, seafood is unsurprisingly popular and of the freshest quality (be sure to order some Bouzigues oysters if you see some on menus!). If it isn’t too hot, you may want to sample the hearty regional specialty cassoulet, a slow-cooked casserole with pork sausages, goose, duck and white beans. An absolute must-eat while traveling in France.
The Languedoc produces the highest quantity of wine in France. Local winemakers have been working hard over the past few decades to shed its former reputation for low quality wines and today you can enjoy a wide array of fine rosés, whites and reds at very reasonable prices.
How to Get to the Languedoc region
The high speed TGV train from Paris reaches the Languedoc in 4-5 hours depending on your destination. Trains are direct to Toulouse (via Bordeaux), however, there may be a train change for other cities in the area. You can see schedules and buy tickets on sncf here. There is an international airport in Toulouse and smaller airports with domestic and inter-European travel in Carcassonne and Montpellier. Driving straight from Paris will take 7-8 hours depending on your departure and arrival points.
ABOUT THE AUTHOR
The sweet Canadian, April Lily Heise has been living in Paris since 2000. Author for the blog, Je T’aime, Me Neither, and her articles were featured in the Huffington Post, CondéNastTraveler.com, Business Insider, Frommer’s Paris and France travel guides, City Secrets Guides, DK Eyewitness, WendyPerrin.com, France Tourism UK, LonelyPlanet.com etc. After the success of her first book, Lily has release her new book, Je T’aime Maybe, that tells love adventures and stories set in the City of Love.
For romantic tips for Paris, free to check out Lily’s wonderful blog, Je T’aime, Me Neither here. For more featured articles of Lily in INSIDR, discover her favourite romantic parks and gardens in Paris .