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The smart guide to... Languedoc

Celebrates the best of France with a visit south to Languedoc — the region that forms a vast grandstand round the Med

Languedoc is the other south of France — hotter, wilder and poorer than Provence. It’s hard-wired for heresy, courtly love (troubadours originated here) and oyster production.

Curving from the Rhône towards Spain, the region forms a vast grandstand round the Med, mountains behind, sun-roasted plain before. The seaside soaks up all the families Europe can throw at it.

Inland, the light and heat of centuries pour onto a tough land where Latin blood has boiled through wars and unrivalled medieval massacres, riots, bullfights and truculent wine-making on an epic scale. Languedociens may still switch from revelry to revolt, and back, in the time it takes you to duck. Then they have their quieter moments on the endless beaches, in upland villages and valleys, or on a sunlit terrace eating sea bream.

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