Most interesting wonders of Languedoc-Rousillon
Below are listed the most amazing natural and man made landmarks of Languedoc-Rousillon.
Canyons and cliffs
- Ardèche Gorges – Gard department and also Rhône-Alpes region. Beautiful, 30 km long gorge of Ardèche River with up to 300 m high limestone cliffs.
- Gorges de Galamus – Aude and Pyrénées-Orientales. One of the most impressive gorges in Pyrenees. It has formed in limestone. As a result water in the stream is blue-green, contrasting with the light surface of rocks.
- Orgues d’Ille-sur-Têt – Pyrénées-Orientales. Amazing cliff formations – cliff chimneys which have been created by erosion over the last 4 million years.
- Baousso del Biel – Lozère. Large natural arch in Tarn canyon.
- Minerve natural bridges – Hérault. Two enormous natural bridges formed by Cesse stream at Minerve – medieval town. Used as a true bridges up to this day.
- Aven Armand – Lozère. Beautiful show cave with numerous stalactites and stalagmites. Includes a 30 m high stalagmite – one of the largest in the world.
- Aven de la Leicasse – Hérault. 16,530 m long cave system, up to 356 m deep.
- Grotte de la Clamouse – Hérault. Cave, rich adornment with cave formations – stalactites,stalagmites and others. Powerful spring leaves the cave.
- Grotte de Limousis – Aude. A cave system, created by underground streams. Now turned into tourist cave. Contains unique cave formation – a chandelier of aragonite crystals, 4 m high and 10 m wide.
- Reseau Andre Lachambre (grotte d’Embulla) – Pyrénées-Orientales. 35,000 m long and up to 74 m deep cave system.
- Reseau de Fuilla – Canalettes – Aude. 23,000 m long cave system.
- Reseau Fanges – Paradet – Pyrénées-Orientales. 18,202 m long cave system, up to 300 m deep.
- Cascade de Rûnes – Lozère. 58 m tall waterfall, formed by several, closely located cascades.
- Déroc Falls – Lozère. Magnificent, free falling waterfall, 32 m tall. The cliff is adorned with basaltic prisms.
- Sautadet Falls – Gard. Waterfall and rapids on Cèze river. A complex group of waterfalls and rapids, formed on limestone. Interesting features are up to 10 m deep kettles, hollowed by turning stones.
Other natural landmarks
- Bramabiau Abyss – Gard. Amazing resurgence of an underground river. This source is located in a 70 m deep gorge – the river leaves the cliff with a waterfall. The source can be entered – the river has formed a giant trench. The known length of the underground passages – 10,210 m.
- Grand firs in Foux arboretum – Gard. Possibly the tallest trees in France, these introduced trees in 2010 were 63 m tall.
- Vis resurgence – Gard. Powerful spring, discharging 5,260 l/s, with maximum 245,000 l/s. The cave of the spring has been explored up to 2,984 m far.
Man made landmarks
- Gallardet Dolmen – Hérault. Enormous dolmen with a 12 m long passageway, surrounded by tumulus. Entrance door is brilliantly shaped like a door of oven.
- Menhirs of Cham des Bondons – Lozère. A plateau with 154 menhirs made of granite. The largest ones are 4.8 and 4.5 m tall, earlier there was one, which was 6 m tall. Granite menhirs were transported to this limestone plateau from the distance.
- Arena of Nîmes – Gard. The best preserved Roman amphitheater in France, built sometimes around 70 AD. Remodelled in 1863 to serve as a bullring. 103 by 101 m large building, suited for 16,300 visitors. For a while the interior was filled with medieval housing.
- Maison Carrée, Nîmes – Gard. One of the best preserved Roman temples worldwide. Built in 16 BC. Turned into Christian church in the 4th century AD, used for diverse purposes, since 1823 – museum.
- Pont Ambroix – Gard and Hérault. Remnants of a Roman bridge over Vidourle river, built in the 1st century BC. Now only one arch in the middle of river remains.
- Pont de Sommières – Hérault. 190 m long, Roman bridge, still in use. Constructed in the early 1st century AD, restored in the 18th century. 7 arches are visible, 12 more arches are now covered by the city buildings and serve as wine cellars.
- Pont des Marchands, Narbonne – Aude. Roman bridge. It had six arches, now only one is visible and others are covered by buildings. Also the top of the visible arch now is covered with buildings.
- Pont du Gard – Gard. One of the most impressive existing structures of Ancient Romans – aqueduct bridge across Gard River. Part of 50 km long aqueduct. Built in the 1st century AD. 48.8 m high, with three stacks of arches. Used until the 9th century. Used as a bridge in medieval times and up to 2000. Built with extreme precision – f.e. it descends 2.5 cm over its 456 m length. Bridge construction itself is 274 m long. Built without mortar – stones are fitting that well, that no water is lost.
- Roman Bridge at Saint-Thibéry – Hérault. Remnants of Roman built segmented arch bridge, built sometimes around 30 BC – 14 AD. Now remain some arches, initially there were nine.
Urban planning monuments
- Aigues-Mortes – Gard. Fortified medieval with with very impressive, well preserved walls. 1,650 m long walls were built mostly in the 13th century.
- Aiguèze – Gard. Historical town, located on a cliff over the Ardèche River. Developed around a castle, built in the 11th – 12th centuries (now in ruins).
- Castelbouc village – Lozère. Medieval village, located around the vertical cliffs with Castle Castelbouc on top. Many houses are partly carved into the cliff.
- Cité de Carcassonne – Aude. Medieval walled city, surrounded by a 3 km long double wall with 53 towers. Walls were built by the Romans in the 3rd century AD and further fortified by French in Romanesque style.
- Lagrasse – Aude. Medieval village with fortifications. Contains Gothic bridge from the 12th century and numerous historical houses.
- La Roque-sur-Cèze – Gard. Medieval village, located on a cliff top. Valuable monument here is the medieval bridge over Cèze river.
- Minerve – Hérault. Small medieval village, located on rocky outcrop, formed by river canyon. Occupied for at least 1600 years. Interesting medieval church and other structures.
- Mont-Louis citadel – Pyrénées-Orientales. Part of historical town, which is located inside an fort, designed by Vauban.
- Olargues – Hérault. Medieval town in a beautiful natural setting, contains numerous valuable buildings.
- Sainte-Enimie – Lozère. Medieval village, located in a deep canyon of Tarn. Interesting medieval buildings.
- Saint-Guilhem-le-Désert – Hérault. Picturesque medieval village with Romanesque church. Located in mountains and contains many interesting medieval buildings.
- Villefranche-de-Conflent – Pyrénées-Orientales. Interesting walled medieval town, established in 1098. Part of fortifications were built by Vauban in the late 18th century.
- Castelnou Castle and village – Pyrénées-Orientales. Large hilltop castle with beautiful village at its foot. Castle developed since the 10th century, village – since the 12th century.
- Château de Quéribus – Aude. Spectacular castle ruins on the top of a high cliff. Current structure was built mostly in the 13th century. One of the last strongholds of Cathars.
- Château de Puilaurens – Aude. Ruins of an impressive castle, located on the top of rock. Construction of the current structure was started in 1229. Served as one of the last refuges for Cathars.
- Palace of the Kings of Majorca, Perpignan – Pyrénées-Orientales. Massive medieval castle, built in 1276 – 1309. Built as an administrative center for the Kingdom of Majorca.
- Peyrepertuse – Aude. Ruins of an impressive castle, located on the top of mountain at the border with Spain. Structure consists of two parts, linked with staircase.
Churches and monasteries
- Basilica of St. Nazaire and St. Celse in Carcassonne – Aude. Romanesque basilica, built in 1096. Enlarged in the 13th and 14th centuries, when features in Gothic style were added.
- Bédouès fortified church – Lozère. Fortified church, built around 1363. This church was built as a tomb for the parents of Pope Urban V. Interesting interior decorations.
- Maguelone Cathedral – Hérault. Fortified church, built in Romanesque style in 1030 – 1060. Interesting church with an aura of ancient times.
- Martin-du-Canigou – Pyrénées-Orientales. Monastery, built on hilltop. Construction took place in 1005 – 1009 and the building represents an early example of Romanesque style. Contains two churches in the First Romanesque style and a group of buildings from the 20th century.
- Montpellier Cathedral – Hérault. Enormous Gothic cathedral, the largest church in Languedoc-Roussillon. Initially construction started in 1364, gradually rebuilt and extended up to the 19th century. Church has very rich ornamentation and contains a large amount of interesting artwork.
- Narbonne Cathedral – Aude. One of most ambitious church buildings in France, begun in 1272 and left unfinished. Less than half is built – but nevertheless the structure is very impressive.
- Notre-Dame Cathedral, Mende – Lozère. Large Gothic cathedral, mostly built in the 14th century and rebuilt in 1599 – 1605.
- Perpignan Cathedral – Pyrénées-Orientales. Church, built in Catalan Gothic style in 1324 – the 15th century. Interior is adorned with large murals by Jacques Pauthe, the 19th century.
- Sainte-Marie de Lagrasse Abbey – Aude. Benedictine monastery, developed since 779. Conserved valuable buildings in Gothic and Romanesque styles.
- Saint-Gilles abbey church – Gard. A Romanesque church with a beautiful portal and interesting spiral staircase. Important pilgrimage site up to this day.
- Saint-Guilhem-le-Désert Abbey – Hérault. An ancient abbey, established in 804 AD. The buildings were built for most part in the 11th century and represent a masterpiece of Romanesque architecture. Preserved church, cloister and some more buildings.
- Devil’s Bridge, Saint-Jean-de-Fos – Hérault. Bridge over a gorge. Constructed in the 11th century in Romanesque style. 65 m long.
- Old bridge in Mende – Lozère. Gothic bridge, built in the 12th century and standing since then. Largest vault is 22 m wide.
- Pont du Diable, Céret – Pyrénées-Orientales. A medieval bridge, built in 1321 – 1341. It had the longest span in the world – 45.45 m long.
- Saint-Nicolas-de-Campagnac Bridge – Gard. Medieval bridge, crossing the Gardon river. Impressive Gothic structure, built in 1245 – 1260.
Other man-made landmarks
- Jardin des plantes de Montpellier – Hérault. Oldest botanical garden in France, established in 1593. Many rare plants here have grown to impressive size.
- Les Quais de la Fontaine, Nîmes – Gard. The first civic garden in France, developed in 1738 – 1755 along the spring and channels supplying the city with water.
- Mont-Louis Solar Furnace – Pyrénées-Orientales. Experimental structure – the first solar furnace in the world. Built in 1949 by Félix Trombe. Now used as an educational facility.
- Musée Fabre – Hérault. One of the most important museums of art in France with a huge collection of French and foreign paintings from the 17th – 20th centuries.
- Prafrance Bamboo Forest – Gard. Unique plantings of bamboo, created in 1856. Besides the bamboo plantings there are many other exotic elements in this garden.
Described wonders of Languedoc-Rousillon
Highlights of this region are:
- Medieval towns – region is very rich with well preserved medieval towns and cities, often located in impressive natural setting. Some of the most impressive ones are Aigues-Mortes, Cité de Carcassonne, Villefranche-de-Conflent, Saint-Guilhem-le-Désert, Minerve.
- Roman heritage – here are located such great and impressive monuments as Pont du Gard, Arena of Nîmes and many other.
- Ardèche Gorges – magnificent natural monument – a deep, long gorge with dramatic landscape and numerous natural and man-made landmarks.
Featured: Sautadet Falls
Sautadet Falls belong to comparatively little known natural wonders of France. This is an unusual landmark characterized by a rugged beauty.
Discover the vibrant cities of Montpellier, Perpignan, and Narbonne, the medieval splendor of Carcassonne, lagoons full of oysters and flamingos, medieval Catalan villages in quiet Pyrenean valleys, and houseboats lazing down the Canal du Midi, all punctuated by Roman ruins, Cathar castles and Gothic cathedrals. With illuminating commentary from Cadogan’s local experts, this comprehensive cultural guide uncovers the very best that Languedoc-Roussillon has to offer.
More than a decade ago, Angela Murrills and husband Peter Matthews began their love affair with the Languedoc, an area in southern France near the Mediterranean coast and the Pyrenees. One of Europe’s oldest and most historic regions, it is rich with wonders including castles, wild white horses, Roman ruins, and Carcassonne, Europe’s greatest fortified town. What really drew them to this area, however, was the locals’ love of food and wine.