Languedoc Regional Info for bike tours

alsace   "I've never had such fun on any vacation, anywhere, ever. The meals were fabulous everywhere, the routes were almost always delightful, the roads mostly quiet, and the people were completely charming."
- G. Antal Languedoc bike Tour

Travel for this region :
Languedoc Bicycle Tours

More France Tours :
France Bicycle Tours
France Walking Tours


History

Languedoc-Roussillon
This region was one of the earliest to be inhabited by humans and, located between the Atlantic Ocean and the Mediterranean, was an extremely important trade route and passage.

The Roman history of Languedoc-Roussillon is long and has left some spectacular traces. The names of towns, the Catalan language, the region’s heady wines and olive-oil dishes all testify to the lasting influence of 400 years of occupation. It is also where the Romanesque art emerged in the early 11th C in its most impressive way ranging from little churches to large, important Cistercian abbeys. This is also a region where the “Cathars”, named after the Greek “katharos” or “pure”, fought the Catholic church of the time in the 13th C; it took many decades to exterminate this movement whose followers believed the visible world to be the work of the devil. Nowadays, many impressive fortresses perched on dizzying heights and the ancient villages still bear witness to a lost religion.

The population of the Mediterranean sea arrived on the coast in the VI century BC. They introduced the culture of the vineyards and the olive production. They created very rapidly some agreements with the local population inside the country. The Phoenicians founded Collioure and Agde. Originaly from Minor Asia, the Greeks of Phocee founded Massilia ( Marseille). The Masseliotes (inhabitant of Marseille) took the control of Agde and allowed it to be a great commercial trade center between the Mediterranean and Northern Europe.

In 123 BC was the conquest of the region by the Romans. Narbonne in 118 BC, then Beziers. In 27 BC, was created the Narbonnaise, a province that would correspond to Languedoc.

City of Carcassonne (on our Languedoc Canal du midi cycling tour).
It was the site of a Roman town until the invasion of the Visigoths in the 5th century. In the 8th century it came to a Franks tribe. During the 13th century crusade against the inhabitants of Albi, Carcassonne was captured and its inhabitants were killed by the Anglo-Norman soldier Simon de Montfort. In 1247, Carcassonne came under the French crown.

To visit in Carcassonne :
  • the Narbonne Gate, which defended the entrance to the fortified town and the Aude Gate
  • he Trésau tower
  • the 12th century Count’s Castle
  • the 11th and 14th century basilica of Saint Nazaire and Saint Celse
Perpignan
The economic and cultural capital of Roussillon, this is a Catalan city. You’ll notice the strong influence of Barcelona, capital of the “new” Catalonia. With its architectural refinement of its cathedral, royal palace, its convents and monasteries, the town houses, ramparts and fortifications, similar with the Barri Gothic of Barcelona, Perpignan is one of the capitals of Gothic art in the Mediterranean.

Collioure
A lovely resort in a bay by the Mediterranean Sea. Many artists such as Matisse have painted the picturesque landscape of this Catalan port. The town was restored to France in 1659, after being annexed to the kingdoms of Aragon and Majorca.
This is a fishing village and a few small anchovy processing facilities still exist. At the Societe Roque, you can purchase some of these salty delicacies!


Geography

Languedoc-Roussillon region is composed of 5 departments: Lozere, Gard, Herault, Aude, and Pyrenees Orientales. This region is very diversified: farmlands, countryside, vineyards, the beaches of the Cote du Languedoc (214 km) and important cities such as Montpellier, Narbonne, Perpignan, Beziers and Carcassonne.

2 500 years ago, the olive trees were brought by the Greeks. The olive trees of Languedoc grow dry little black olives or juicy big green olives. Olives and olive oil are on all outdoor markets. This region consume 50 000 tonnes of olive oil per year!

The canal du Midi: opened in 1681, the 204 km Canal du Midi is a superb engineering challenge and the oldest functioning canal in Europe. Designed by Pierre-Paul Riquet, the canal links Toulouse to the Mediterranean sea. During 15 years, from 1666 to 1681, 12 000 workers dug up with shovels this long trench. However, it wasn't long before Louis XVI ran out of money to finance this great project. Pierre-Paul Riquet give it his personal fortune and then that of his wife. Riquet, exausted and sick, retired in his home and died some weeks later without having seen his life's master-piece achieved.

The Canal du Midi contains many original features that renders it quite unique in France’s abundant heritage. The Canal du Midi was classified as a World Heritage site by UNESCO in December 1996.

Canal du Midi is in our Languedoc Canal du midi cycling tour.


Food / Drink

What good "stuff' can you eat?

Following are some of these specialties that you will enjoy while you tour:

  • Aubergines a la tomate- eggplants with tomatoes
  • Aubergines aux cepes- eggplants cooked with mushrooms
  • Blanquette de pommes de terre- White meat cooked with potatoes
  • Calamars farcis- Stuffed Calamari
  • Ragout de Costello - Meat and vegetables dish
  • Courgettes farci- Stuffed Zucchini
  • Morue a la catalane- Catalonia Cod Style
  • Pintade a la catalane- Catalonia turkey Style
  • Pois chiche a la catalane- Catalonia Chick peas Style
  • Ragout de Costello- Meat and vegetables dish
  • Crème catalane- Catalonia Dessert cream Style
  • Fougasse au Pignons- Flat bread with pine nuts


What about a drink ?

  • AOC - Vins secs (Dry wine)- Cotes du Roussillon (white wine), Cotes du Roussillon (rose wine),Cotes du Roussillon (red wine) and Collioure (Rose wine)
  • AOC- Vins doux naturels (Natural Sweet wines)- Rivesaltes (Ambre), Rivesaltes, Tuile, Banyuls, Maury traditionels, Vintage, Rimage, Muscat de Rivesaltes.
  • Vins de Pays- 70 different Vins de Pays under the appellation of Vins du Pays d’Oc.


The “appellation” Wines of the Languedoc covers 120,000 acres of vines on the slopes and garrigues of Languedoc. The production gives red wine, rose and white wine.
Four departments of the Languedoc-Roussillon, Gard, Herault, Aude and Pyrenees Orientales share the biggest French vineyards. It assure 40% of the French production, with 18% in AOC and 70% in Vins de Pays.

The different AOC wine of Languedoc are: Fitou, Minervois, Corbieres, Tavel, etc. The diversity of soils makes it possible to produce wines of different types, and the differences are carefully maintained, with a constant eye to quality.

Some vineyards draw their strength from the burning sun as they produce a sweet wine. They are made from ripe grapes in which pure grape spirit has been added to them during fermentation. Of the 12 appellations for natural sweet wines, only 6 are muscats.

Did you know...?
It is in the XIII century that appeared the term "Languedoc", a formula used by the employees of the king to designate all the landmarks where it was said "oc" for "oui" (yes) by opposition of the Northern provinces where it was spoke the dialect "oil". The Occitan language was composed of several dialects: the gascon, the limousin, the auvergnat, the provencal, and the languedocien.

In 1919, was created the Escola occitana and in 1945 the Institut of Occitana studies to diffuse the language.

This language is a treasure:160 000 words against 30 000 in French!

Did you know...?
Pays Catalan- The French Catalonia
Tourism will very soon overtake agriculture as the most important economic activity. The wealth of the natural heritage and history gives to the Pyrenees-Orientales some vast opportunities. This mix between ocean and mountain create a diversity of landscapes. This diversity relates to many natural parks unique in France, from the natural preserve submarine park of Cerbere-Banyuls to the massifs of Canigou that you would have the occasion to view from your trail. Along this natural wealth, the department is vegetated with pine forests, nuts trees, oaks, etc.
Also from a great wealth, the archeological heritage and historical relating from one of the oldest European (the Man of Tautavel, 450 000 years old) to Roman and Baroque churches and fortresses.

Weather :

Mild to warm describes the weather in Languedoc. Temperatures can range from 50 to 70 degrees Fahrenheit in the spring, 65 to 80 degrees during the summer months, and 55 to 75 degrees in the autumn season.

Read about 5 reasons to cycle in Languedoc...


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