Why Cycle Languedoc, France?
Located in the most southern part of France on the Mediterranean coast, the province of Languedoc is an area rich with scenic landscapes and a beautiful climate. It borders the Mediterranean Sea to the east and the Pyrenees Mountains to the south, and Provence to the northeast, the region provides visitors a lovely contrast of terrain to explore and countless activities in which to partake. There are rivers and lakes, with amazing thermal springs, ancient abbeys and cathedrals, castles and fortresses and so much more to explore, not to mention the incredible coastline with its gorgeous beaches for those seeking beauty and relaxation. There truly is something for everyone in Languedoc.
Among the many things to do and see here, here are five particularly compelling reasons to cycle Languedoc.
Bull Running and Bull Fighting
Bullfighting has been around since Roman times, and the ritual and tradition live on in Languedoc. Festivals dedicated to the activity are held in the town of Beziers in August and Narbonne in September. However, bull running and bull jumping’s popularity is rapidly increasing at these events because it is considered more humane and bulls are admired in this region. In fact, crowds gather in droves to cheer on the bulls as they are paraded through the town streets. These popular Languedoc activities provide spectators with a truly unique and unforgettable experience.
Mediterranean Coast on the Gulf of Lyon
Beach-goers will be in their glory amid the 110 miles of coastline located along the Gulf of Lyon. Varied terrain includes marshlands, rocky outcrops and miles of sandy beaches. Salt water lagoons provide the perfect locale for water sports and spotting wildlife. Cyclists will also enjoy the flat coastal plains here, riding alongside the beautiful water, coastal stretches and quaint fishing villages. Coastal areas to visit include the Camargue, the Radiant Coast (Côte Radieuse) and the Vermilion Coast (Côte Vermeille).
The Cathars were Gnostic Christians and founders of a new religion in the twelfth century called Catharism. They were considered by the Pope to be heretics and were subsequently the targets of a full scale crusade. The Cathars sought refuge in area castles and fortresses, many of which were located high atop the hills of Languedoc. The Cathars lost their battle and most were put to death for their beliefs, but many of the castles that once protected them still stand today. The castles that are accessible to the public require some hiking to reach, but their magnificent presence is a sight to behold and a visit to one of these giant monuments is a virtual step back in time.
Canal du Midi
The oldest working canal in the world, this amazing work of engineering is considered by UNESCO to be a World Heritage site, and for good reason. Once used for commerce, the canal is now primarily a tourist attraction where visitors can travel along its 240 km length by boat, or by walking or biking alongside it. There are also plenty of places along the way to stop and enjoy a leisurely lunch or savor a glass of wine. Connecting the Mediterranean to the Atlantic Ocean, this magnificent feat has been referred to by the UNESCO as “a masterpiece of human creative genius”. It is a must-see attraction for anyone planning a trip to Languedoc.
The Pont du Gard
A combination bridge and aqueduct, the Pont du Gard is an amazingly well-preserved structure that draws visitors in with its height (nearly 50 meters) and rich history. Rising up 3 tiers, it is the tallest aqueduct ever constructed by the Romans and is part of the structure that was built somewhere around 20 BC. It is located north-east of Nimes and towers over the River Gard. The Pont du Gard is another World Heritage site and is a beautiful sight to behold, particularly in the summertime when it is illuminated by man-made nocturnal lights.