The Languedoc region includes five departments, and each one has an amazingly diverse personality for such a small geographic area. You could easily plan an entire vacation around exploring each department, and each one's unique capital city. You will find these Languedoc cities:
- Carcassonne, in the Aude Department, is one of the few cities in Southwest France that can be accurately described as a tourist trap. Regardless, this ancient village has much to commend it, and simply visiting outside of summer can help to avoid the crowds. The best feature is “La Cité,” the old fortified city that is entirely surrounded by ramparts. Inside, there are museums, cafés and souvenir shops selling medieval tapestries and Cathar figurines. This makes it a great destination for splitting up with your fellow travelers, as it is self-contained and easy to navigate. The lower city is much like any major city, with several shops and restaurants.
- Montpellier, in the Herault, is the capital of the Languedoc. It is home to a 13th century medical school and museums devoted to this subject. This thriving university city also has a citizenry that includes 60,000 students. The streets are lined with upscale shops, and the city features ancient Roman aqueducts and arches. The pedestrian square, Place de la Comedie, includes a stunning statue of the Three Graces.
- Perpignan, in the Pyrenees Orientales, the most southern of the major cities, is close to the Spain’s Catelonia. It can be hard to tell which country has influenced it most, as many of the people here are Spanish descendants. The influence of Algerians is also clear, and there are many North African shops and cafés. The climate is downright luscious much of the year.
- Mende, in the rural and mountainous Lozère, is a small city of about 12,000 people. This is a wonderful destination for anyone who wants to be in a town, but in the midst of nature at its finest, unique wildlife and outdoor activities like hang gliding, mountain climbing and canoeing.
- Nimes, in the Gard, is a wonderful destination for those interested in ancient Rome. A restored Roman arena hosts bullfights today, and a former temple is now a museum. This charming city is filled with squares, fountains, statues, bustling markets and bold gardens.