Languedoc France is located along the Mediterranean Coast of southern France and extends to the Spanish borders. It is a land of ancient history, political conflict, delicious wines and is also home to several UNESCO Heritage sites.
The Languedoc region is located in Southern France and shares a border with Spain. The Pyrenees Mountains, a mountain range that is older than the Alps, forms a natural border between the two countries. The remoteness of the Languedoc region, far removed from the politics of London, Paris or Madrid allowed the growth of an independence in their politics and religious beliefs. The people of this region were known as the Occitanians, and they spoke a mixed dialect, which was a combination of French and Spanish. The region was called as “les langues d’oc”,
The local nobility built fortresses and castles atop the Pyrenees mountains in strategic positions where they could protect their villages and towns from invasion. During the 11th century, the Cathars, a unique Christian religion gained a foothold in Languedoc. The Cathars found acceptance for their religion and a place to worship in a culture that promoted independence. The religious group called themselves the “Cathars”. A name that is associated with the meaning for purity; ie catharsis. Cathars are thought to be a precursor to the Protestant religions.
Eventually, the Pope heard about the Cathars and their independence and became incensed. He declared a war on the Cathars for being heretics. The war was known as the Albigensian Crusade and lasted from 1209–1229. The crusaders massacred people indiscriminately with over half a million men, women and children that were slaughtered during the Pope’s attempt to destroy the Cathar’s independence.
As you drive along the Languedoc wine routes that follow along the Pyrenees Mountains, and if you happen to glance up towards the peaks of the mountains, you will see ghosts. The ghosts of the Cathar castles, perched in the clouds on the rocky grey Pyrenees Mountains.
Cathar Castles in Languedoc
Abbeys of Languedoc
Even before the Cathar wars ravaged Languedoc, the ancient Romans were leaving their imprint on the region. The Romans had expanded their sphere of influence and control into France and Spain via the ancient road, VIA Domitia, which ran north from Rome over the Alps down through ancient Gaul along the Mediterranean coast of France finally crossing the Pyrenees Mountains into the eastern section of Spain. Via Domitia was built in 118 BC by the Romans and it provided the Romans a military advantage through France and Spain.
Many cities and villages of Languedoc owe their founding to the early Romans who left behind amazing monuments, temples and architecture that were the basic foundations for many of the towns in Languedoc.
The border between Spain and France has always been fluid and a battleground with each country vying for more control. Over the centuries, many of the historic towns and villages have changed political alliance between France and Spain.
Collioure is located on the Mediterranean Coast just a few miles from Spanish border. Collioure became the summer residence for the King of Mallorca, whose main residence was the castle at Perpignan. A castle has been located in the town since the 7th century, with major modifications occurring during the 13th and 17th centuries.
The Knights Templar built the Royal Castle of Collioure in the 12th century as a defensive fort, which later became a royal household for the Kings of Majorca, before it was transformed into a Spanish fortress that guarded the border at the end of the 1400s.
Perpignan is located slightly inland and north from the border Spain shares with France. The city gained prestige over the centuries by being the home of the Counts of Roussillon and the Kings of Aragon. Later it became the capital of the Kingdom of Majorca in 1276 and lasted through the 14th century. Located within the city walls you will find the Palace of the Kings of Mallorca which was completed in 1309.
Languedoc has more acreage dedicated to wine than any other region in France. As you drive along the winding roads of the region, every hill and valley is covered with vineyards. Each town has a cooperative where the locals can sell the current grape harvest for the production of the local village wine. And many of the wine producers have small tasting rooms located along the road where you can stop and enjoy a taste of their wines, to see which one suits your taste.
If you are planning a vacation to Languedoc France, enjoy your adventure while staying in one of our listed properties.
Capestang, Carcassonne, Cascastel, Castelnaudary, La Boissiere, Montpellier, Perpignan, Pezenas, Quillan, Roullens, Saint Julien de Peyrolas, Sommieres, Uzes, Vacquieres, Vernet Les Bains,