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Coast, Castles and Countryside in Occitanie
The union of Languedoc Rousillon and Midi Pyrénées to create the ‘super’ region of Occitanie was a marriage made in heaven, combining the fun of the Mediterranean with the culture and heritage of rustic villages and hillside castles.
The Occitanie coast
The west Mediterranean coast is punctuated with bustling towns such as Montpellier, Beziers and Perpignan which bask lazily in the sun-soaked climate and are all within easy reach of pretty seaside resorts where you can take your pick of the many fine restaurants, find a seat with a sea view and sit back and enjoy some local oysters. This part of France has often been referred to as the thinking man’s Riviera and although it lacks much of the glitz and glamour of Mediterranean resorts further east, the warm hues of the buildings and tangle of alleyways give this area its own unique charm. Perpignan in particular is full of character and has a distinct Spanish feel. This area is also a perfect location for property hunters. Easily accessible from many regional airports in the UK, prices here are reasonable but are expected to rise as more people discover the charms of this lesser known French coastline.
Castles in the sky
Occitanie is well known for its medieval villages and market towns with their stone houses and hilltop castles. King of the castles is La Cité, a striking medieval citadel in the historic town of Carcassonne. Explore the fortified towns of Beaumont-de-Lomagne and Castelnau-de-Montmiral in the Tarn, stop to admire Cathar castles in Peyrepertuse and Quéribus and if you want to experience a castle around almost every corner take a drive through Hérault which has more than 30 to choose from. Some are little more than ruins these days but others, like the 12th century sandstone castle at Dio, still dominate the skyline.
Away from the hustle and bustle of Occitanie’s capital Toulouse are quiet country lanes and peaceful rural hamlets where time hardly seems to have moved on in hundreds of years.
Around Auch, which is the capital of Gers and the historic heart of Gascony , the picturesque villages of Barran, Montesquiou and Bassoues are places that have been overlooked by the passage of time and where far reaching views can be enjoyed towards the Pyrenees. There are some beautiful villages in and around Tarn and Garonne, within easy reach of city life in Toulouse. Narbonne, which is located within the Narbonne National Park, is characterized by salt lakes, pine woods and a gentle pace of life.