Visitors to Languedoc Rousillon’s Mediterranean sunshine coast will find breezy modern resorts with wonderful sandy beaches such as Plage de la Corniche and Canet Plage.
There’s plenty of room for sunbathing on the region’s longest beach at dune-fringed l’Espiguette with space for a dedicated nudist section. Plage de Richelieu at popular Cape d’Agde offers every sort of water activity along its 14km stretch with floating pontoon, Aqualand Park, undersea trail, museums, restaurants and nightlife.
Further south, the resorts of the Gulf of Lyon, such as Narbonne-Plage and Gruissan offer great facilities, including restaurants and night life, crèches and watersports equipment hire. Argeles is Langedoc’s most famous beach backed by olive groves and vineyards, truly beautiful at its northern end, with stunning views of the Pyrenees.
Closer to the Spanish border along the Cote Vermeille the coast becomes more rocky and long beaches give way to picturesque seaside towns such as Collioure, loved by artists, and quiet beaches and creeks.
The vineyards of Languedoc-Roussillon account for over a third of France’s total vineyard area and make-up the world’s largest wine-producing region - just the place for a wine-tasting holiday!
Once known for its inexpensive table wines, today the region produces high quality AOC wines. There are literally hundreds of ‘domaines’ offering tastings in all price ranges and many don’t require visitors to make a prior appointment.
You can sample the sparking Blanquette de Limoux - first produced by monks in the sixteenth century long before Champagne - at Domaine de Martinolles in St Hillaire.
The Minervois vineyards have tourist routes dotted with Romanesque churches; visit Chateau Plo du Roy, Villeneuve-Minervois and try the more full-bodied Corbieres wines at Roque Sestiere, Luc-sur-Orbieu. Faugeres, Fitou, and others all give you a chance to enjoy their flavours.
Don’t forget the region’s sweet wines such as Banyuls and Langedoc Roussillon’s famous Byrrh aperitif originally created as a tonic in the nineteenth century. Visit the Caves de Byrrh in Thuir for a tour - in English if advance notice is given.
Linking the high plains of the Pyenees-Orientales to Perpignan, France’s highest non cog railway first brought winter tourists to Font-Romeu in 1910.
Open all year, and used by locals, walkers and skiers, the 64km journey through tunnels and over gorges with spectacular views makes a great photo opportunity. Carriages have platforms at either end and in summer some are open-air.
Starting at Villefranche-de-Conflent, the little train ascends to Bolquere-Eyne, the highest station in France, ending its journey at La Tour-de-Carol where it connects with the main line from Paris to Barcelona.
The Eastern Pyrenees have a Mediterranean feel, the air is warmer and drier with plenty of sunshine. The large Catalan Pyrenees Regional Natural Park has a wealth of hiking trails past peaceful villages such as Vernet-les-Bains.
Start from here to the summit of dominant Pic du Canigou with views across lush peach and apple orchards in the valleys. Walk the wooded slopes of the Cerdange or take the ‘Yellow Train’ from Villefranche-de-Conflent to the ski resort of Font-Romeu (1,750m) during July and August to enjoy the towering peaks and hike through magnificent scenery in its sunny summer glory.
Look for herds of izards (a type of chamois symbolic of the Pyrenees) along high plateau trails of Capcir. An area of forests and mountain lakes, make for beautiful Lake Bouillouses glistening at 2070m.
Take the mountain trail to Puig Carlit summit for tremendous views and enjoy the wonderful flowers, such as broom and thyme, of the Galbe valley. For long-distance hikers, the GR10 French Pyrenees route from the Mediterranean to the Atlantic begins on the coast at Banylus.