Villas in Languedoc

With landscapes dotted with hilltop castles, Roman ruins, vineyards and a captivating coastline, Languedoc offers a wealth of experiences to travellers. Producing a third of France’s wines, this region is great for an afternoon of vineyard exploring and wine tasting. The medieval cities are idyllic for getting lost among cobbled laneways, discovering independent art galleries or historical museums, and the shoreline offers busy beaches to soak up the sunshine.

If you’re more of an outdoor adventurer head to the wilderness inland, where you can traverse hills, caves, gorges and valleys – Languedoc is a playground, for children and adults alike. It's the ideal destination for a family villa holiday and we have a great selection of villas in Languedoc to make your holiday extra special.

Why visit?

  • Step back in time by visiting the medieval castles, fortified villages and Roman aqueducts – if you’re going with kids these sites will easily fuel their imaginations.
  • If you’re a self-confessed wine connoisseur, then visiting the vineyards should be high on your agenda. After all, the wine-producing area of Languedoc is double the size of Bordeaux.

Read the Languedoc Travel Guide

Why stay with us?

Style and character are everything at Oliver’s Travels, and our collection of handpicked villas in the Languedoc have this in spades.

We have destination experts who know the ins and outs of all our regions, picking villas that aren’t only unique, but also in the best locations. What's more, our villas are 100% family-friendly, and have the ‘wow’ factor.

Our helpful concierge team are on-hand to make your stay extra special. Whether you want a fully-stocked fridge, a local in-house chef to cook your meals, housekeeping or any other extra service – consider them your holiday genie, who will happily grant your wishes.

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Luxury Villas in Languedoc: Our Top Picks

Why visit

Languedoc embodies slow travel. It’s about escaping the crowds of Côte d’Azur and Provence, and simply slipping down a few gears. Rural wineries and medieval villages are wrapped into the folds of vine-combed hills, while the coastline is a jigsaw of beaches and flamingo-topped lagoons.

These lyrical landscapes are peppered with historical remnants, from Roman aqueducts to hilltop Cathar castles. The main cities of Montpellier, Nîmes, Béziers and Narbonne all straddle Via Domitia – the first Roman road in Gaul connecting Italy and Spain. By the Middle Ages, Languedoc was an independent nation though the modern région covers only a fraction of the lands once dominated by the local language of Occitan, or langue d’oc.

Today there are three distinct areas: Bas-Languedoc is known for its long beaches; the Grands Causses and Cévennes are a sprawl of hills, caves, gorges, forests and vineyards; Roussillon, close to the Spanish border, is a mix of Gallic and Catalan culture.

Food and drink

The Greeks first planted vineyards in Languedoc in the fifth century, and today it’s the world’s largest wine region. The rocky soil and sunny climate does wonders for the natural larder too. Languedoc produces a smorgasbord of local ingredients: beef from the Camargue, lamb from the Lozère, truffles from Uzès, cherries from Céret, goats’ cheese from the Cévennes, and anchovies from Collioure. A growing crop of innovative restaurants are transforming this incredible bounty into creative dishes, from Ambassade and Octopus in Béziers, to Maison de la Lozère in Montpellier and Le Parc Franck Putelat in Carcassonne.

If you want more information, check the Languedoc Travel Guide in our blog.

What Oliver loves

The romantic landscapes, from vineyard-carpeted hills and labyrinthine cave complexes to lagoons partially hidden beneath flamingos, and untouched national parks where wild horses roam.

Best time to go

  • The summer months are naturally the warmest, with temperatures hovering around 30 degrees in July and August. There are festivals galore in this period, from popular food and wine festival Estivales de Montpellier to the four-day feria of Béziers and Carcassonne summer festival at Château Comtal.
  • However, you can expect jam-packed beaches and higher prices during this peak season. To avoid the crowds and sky-high prices, we suggest visiting in April to June or September to October. Temperatures will be cooler, though still relatively warm and dry – ideal for hiking.

Top tips

  • If you want to chat to locals in Roussillon, swot up on rugby – conversation gold.
  • Instead of pricey restaurant lunches, pack a picnic of goodies from the world-class food markets of Carcassonne, Lagrasse and Narbonne.
  • Visit popular sites like Pont du Gard, Carcassonne and the Camargue either first thing or late afternoon.
  • Villa rental in Languedoc can be more affordable and flexible than hotels for families or groups of friends.

    Family friendly

    France is always an enticing destination for families with children, and Languedoc is no different. Kids are welcome in most restaurants and at tourist attractions, many at children’s prices and with targeted tours and activities.

    The long sandy beaches lining Languedoc’s Mediterranean coast are ideal for all ages, from toddlers clutching buckets and spades, to older children paddling on pedalos. A string of water-sports kiosks offer high-octane activities for adventurous types.

    For older kids, forests are strung with treetop canopy trails and ziplines, while wild gorges beg to be discovered by canoe, and craggy mountains call for off-road hiking and biking. Camargue has wild white horses and flocks of flamingos to grab the interest of animal lovers.

    The Pyrenees are prime walking areas for teenagers and older children. Ask in tourist offices for information on easy, well-signposted family walks, or contact a local guide. Many festivals are geared towards children, from the joutes nautiques (nautical jousts) in Sète to the summer fiera at Château Comtal’s amphitheatre in Carcassonne.

    We recommend hiring a car so you can easily travel around the region’s national parks, beaches and towns. There are plenty of family-friendly villas in Languedoc or holiday homes to rent, which offer more space and flexibility for families with kids, plus you can often cook at home for fussy eaters.

    Consider one of the Languedoc villas with pools in the summer to keep older children entertained during downtime.

    The Pyrenees

    Why it’s perfect for families

    • For babies: Babies are welcome in most restaurants and tourist attractions, plus bike-rental outfits usually offer child carriers. We also have villas perfect for babies.
    • For kids: Several festivals cater to children: the best is the joutes nautiques in Sète where rowers knock each other into the water with jousting sticks. Inland, national parks are huge outdoor playgrounds, offering everything from canoeing to caving and accrobranching (climbing through the treetops). See our kids-friendly villas.
    • For teens: Appeal to teens’ sense of adventure and cruise the Canal du Midi. Hop on board a narrowboat to wind your way between the ramparts of Carcassonne, Lake Cavayère for swimming, and treetop trails and beach-bejewelled Cap d’Agde. Check our villas ideal for teens.

    Top tips

    • Immerse kids in wildlife at the Mare Nostrum Aquarium or Serre Amazonienne zoo in Montpellier.
    • Clamber over the art installations at the Vallon du Villaret in Bagnols-les-Bains.
    • Keep older children entertained at the huge water park, Aqualand Cap d’Agde.
    • Visit the Musée-Parc des Dinosaures, near Meze – the largest dinosaur park in Europe.
    • Climb among the treetops or zipline through the leafy canopy with Beziers Adventure.

    Best beaches in Languedoc

    As you travel west along France’s Mediterranean coast, the glossy resorts and yacht-dotted bays of the Côte d’Azur give way to a wilder, earthier coastline. This stretch, curving from the River Rhône round to the Spanish border, is not the French Riviera.

    You won’t find rich off-season visitors; in fact you might not find any off-season visitors at all. What you will find is fishing villages, wild flamingos, deserted beaches, vibrant towns and unassuming seafood restaurants.

    In the 1960s, Languedoc became the summer playground of French holidaymakers, when the government of then-president Georges Pompidou created new beach resorts to lure Gauls away from the Costa Brava. Of these frolicsome seaside haunts, two took hold: La Grande Motte near Montpellier, and Le Cap d’Agde, near the old town of Agde.

    Away from these tourist destinations you’ll discover great stretches of beach, often with only your footprints in the sand. Further south, Roussillon is lined by crescents of bleached sand that reach up to meet Côte Vermeille, an arty enclave unfurling from the port of Collioure. If you want to combine beach days with culture, be sure to rent one of the Languedoc villas with easy access to the coast.

    Oliver’s Hidden Gem

    Far to the south, Banyuls-sur-Mer hugs a rocky coast where mountains plunge to sea and vineyards cling to precipitous slopes. Catalan and French culture collide in this white-washed town, nine miles from Spain. While most people flock to Collioure, the quieter Banyuls is a lovely bay biting into the coastline.

     Banyuls-sur-Mer

    Le Cap d’Agde, Languedoc

    Le Cap d’Agde is the “Black Pearl” of Languedoc on account of its basalt architecture. Part of its beach is a naturist resort – the biggest in Europe – while ancient Greek bronzes found underwater by divers are showcased in Musée de l'Ephèbe.

    La Grande Motte, Languedoc

    Le Grand Motte is a contemporary resort of ziggurats and pyramids near Montpellier. Swathes of icing-sugar sand are perfect for sunbathing and if you fancy relaxing in style, The White Beach is an exclusive club with restaurant and loungers.

    Gruissan, Languedoc

    South of Narbonne, the ancient village of Gruissan fans out from beneath castle ruins perched atop a rocky pinnacle. A muddle of lagoons, sea, marshland and channels lie beyond. A string of beach chalets-on-stilts starred in the 1986 movie, Betty Blue.

    Espiguette , Languedoc

    Just beyond Le-Grau-le-Roi, Plage de L’Espiguette is a six-mile-long stretch of dune-backed white sand. The near-deserted beach is wilder than the more manicured strands attached to nearby beach resorts. It’s backed by lagoons filled with wild flamingos.

    Plage Les Coussoules, Languedoc

    Ten glorious miles of sandy shore stretch between the towns of Narbonne and Perpignan, sheltered by pockets of grassy dunes. Les Coussoules is one of the finest beaches here, with a hint of wilderness about the untamed sands.

    Portiragnes, Languedoc

    Near Béziers, Portiragnes is a golden beach that’s popular with families – though it never feels crowded. Children play in the sand, while a string of cafés and restaurants cater to sun-seekers, and a nearby car park is convenient for access.

    Things to do

    Languedoc ticks all the boxes for an idyllic French getaway: history, food, wine, and scenery. Despite often being bypassed in favour of Provence or the Côte d’Azur, this unassuming pocket of southwest France pays off for those who choose to visit.

    A smattering of cities and towns with Roman roots are rich in ancient treasures, while castles perched atop rocky precipices give the Loire Valley chateaux a run for their money. Terraced vineyards cling to dizzyingly steep hillsides, with tastings and tours available at rural wineries – which, combined, produce some two billion bottles a year.

    If you’re more of a gourmand than an oenophile, follow the culinary trail to local food markets where stalls groan beneath the weight of truffles, goats’ cheese, anchovies, cherries and other regional specialties.

    River Ardèche, Cévennes

    • Languedoc is ripe for outdoor adventures. To the north, Cévennes is a beautiful spot to hike and bike among striking rock formations and wild gorges concealing vultures. Further south, you can go trekking or kayaking, canyoning or rock climbing in the Mediterranean Pyrenees. Try Extérieur Nature or Exploration Pyrénéenne.                                       
    • Time travel back to ancient Rome with a road trip across Languedoc. Start in Narbonne, the former capital of Gallia Narbonensis, and visit Palais des Archevêques, part of which is an underground Roman horreum (warehouse) that hosted a public market in the 1st century. Check out the remains of the Via Domitia, before heading north to Oppidum d’Ensérune, where ancient ruins nod to a once-thriving Roman town. Continue onto Nîmes to see a glorious amphitheatre and Roman temple, and then call by Pont du Gard, an incredible Roman aqueduct. Finally drive 25 miles north to Orange to gawp at Théâtre Antique – one of three intact Roman theatres in the world.
    • Languedoc is the world's largest wine region, producing a third of France’s wines. Some of the best wineries include Vinécole, near Limoux, Domaine de la Réserve d’O, 40 minutes from Montpellier, and Domaine Ollier-Taillefer in central Languedoc.
    • Crumbling citadels are reminders of Catharism, a dualist take on Christianity. In 1209, the Pope waged a crusade against the Cathars, which left 20,000 dead in Béziers. Those who survived sought shelter among the castles of the Corbières. Two of the most magnificent are Quéribus and Peyrepetuse, poised on precipitous rocky perches.

    Oliver's Hidden Gem

    To experience the Catalan cultural influences, board the Petit Train Jaune at the walled town of Villefranche-de-Conflent. From here, the ancient train trundles up and through the Pyrenees to Mont-Louis, a bastion built by Louis XIV's military engineer to defend the border town.

    Petit Train Jaune 

    Towns and villages

    Languedoc thrived in Roman times, its main cities fanning out from Via Domitia – the first Roman road in Gaul connecting Italy and Spain. Consequently many towns are inspired by the Moorish culture of Al-Andaluz, and today the further south you head, the stronger the Catalan influences. Perpignan, the closest town to the Spanish border, is a mix of Gallic and Catalan influences. A monument at the railway station is dedicated to local Catalan hero Salvador Dali, who described la gare as "the centre of the universe”.

    Further north, Narbonne’s calling card is its Gothic cathedral and fortified palace – now housing a series of art and archaeology museums. Continuing northwards, Béziers is a striking cathedral-crowned city, Montpellier is a lively university city and Nîmes has some of the world’s most impressive Roman ruins.

    It’s not all about these big-hitters though. Lesser-known towns include Collioure, the inspiration behind 20th-century painters like Matisse and Picasso, and once- capital Pézenas, lined with 17th-century hôtels particuliers.

    For traditional villages, St Guilhem-le-Désert clings to a crevasse above the river Hérault, while Minerve is poised high above the Cesse gorges. The canal-laced town of Sète is ideal for families, with an amusing Musée International des Arts Modestes and boat trips for older children, plus a busy summer festival calendar for all ages.

    Pick your Languedoc villa wisely: you may want to be located in a villa near one of the main towns or national parks, or somewhere in between – a good base for exploring the whole region.

    Oliver’s Hidden Gem

    Uzès is one of Languedoc’s most charming towns – and one of its least known. Renaissance buildings huddle along medieval streets, some now housing boutique shops and creative restaurants (we recommend Les Trois Salons). Don’t miss the Saturday market, tucked among the vaulted archways of Place aux Herbes.

    Uzès

    Montpellier

    The capital of the Languedoc-Roussillon, Montpellier is centred around a handsome 18th-century core. It’s not just a museum piece though: the lively university city has great nightlife, shopping and culture. Don’t miss the art riches of the Musée Fabre, and the table to book is at Le Jardin des Sens, headed up by twin MasterChef’s Jacques and Laurent Pourcel.

    Carcassonne, Languedoc

    Looming over the Aude valley, the medieval town of Carcassonne has a fairytale-turreted castle that was the backdrop to Robin Hood Prince of Thieves. Visit the UNESCO-listed citadel early in the morning to avoid the crowds, and be sure to take a tour of Château-Comtal’s ramparts.  Across the drawbridge, the bustling little town is filled with cafés, bakeries and antique shops.

    Narbonne, Languedoc

    A tumble of medieval and Renaissance buildings are arranged around a Gothic cathedral. Elsewhere, a fortified Episcopal Palace houses art and archaeology museums. Check out the horreum, an underground warren of Roman warehouses that once held a public market. The new Musée Régional de la Narbonne Antique is filled with Roman busts and Gallo-Roman art.

    Nîmes, Languedoc

    Nîmes is known as the "Rome of France" for its impeccable Roman temple – Maison Carrée – and Arènes, a 2,000-year-old amphitheatre in better shape than the Colosseum. The new Musée de la Romanité adds historical context. Nearby, the Pont du Gard is a Roman aqueduct and masterpiece of ancient engineering. The city is a good base for Cevennes and the Camargue wetlands.
     

    La Roque-sur-Cèze, Languedoc

    One of France’s prettiest villages, La-Roque-sur-Cèze is perched atop a rocky plateau above Cèze. A knot of streets winds around a former castle, leading to a lofty summit with breath-taking views across the river valley. The Sautadet waterfalls cascades down limestone cliffs, and pours into the river that meanders through an otherworldly landscape.

    Perpignan, Languedoc

    Sharing a border with Spain, Perpignan was the capital of the Kingdom of Majorca during the 13th century. The city is infused with Catalan influences, particularly evident in its medieval core. Later a hub for writers and artists, Perpignan was dubbed the ‘the centre of the universe’ by Spanish painter Salvador Dalí, and was home to Surrealists and Fauvists.

    Getting there and around

    Languedoc is served by five regional airports: Nîmes, Montpellier, Carcassonne, Perpignan and Béziers. Several airlines connect the region with the UK: Ryanair serves all five from a number of UK airports; Flybe runs to Perpignan from Southampton; Bmibaby flies to Perpignan from Manchester; and easyJet flies to Montpellier's Méditerranée airport from Luton and Gatwick. Airport shuttle buses depart from outside the airport terminal on the hour every hour to Montpellier (bus #120) and around.

    Alternatively, you could catch the train from Paris Gare du Lyon, reaching both Nîmes and Montpellier in just over three hours. Béziers is accessible by train in just over four hours, with Narbonne and Perpignan slightly longer. Eurostar also connects London St Pancras and stations in Hérault from £109.

    In the summer, from 10 July to 11 September, direct trains run between St Pancras and Avignon-Centre, with easy connections to Languedoc-Roussillon.

    If you’re travelling by car, the A9 motorway runs from the northeast to the southwest of the region. If you're arriving from the Channel ports, however, the A75 motorway runs through the Massif Central; drive through Dieppe and Le Havre to avoid the heavy traffic around Paris.


    Getting around by train and bus

    A good rail network connects the main cities and towns of Languedoc-Roussillon, supplemented with dozens of bus routes. If you’re heading to the more remote sites, a car may be a more convenient alternative.


    By car

    We recommend hiring a car to easily get around the region, taking in the more remote Cathar castles and national parks. The A9 motorway runs from the northeast to the southwest of Languedoc-Roussillon, with quick and easy access to the coast.


    By bike

    If you’re staying in the capital, Montpellier not only has an extensive tram and bus network, but it also has over 75 miles of cycle paths – many leading to the seaside. You can rent bikes in one spot and leave them in another through Vélomagg, which has 56 stations across the city.

    Top tips

    • Buy yourself a Montpellier City Card (€13.50 for 24 hours) for unlimited travel on trams and buses, plus free or discounted entry to many museums and tourist sites.
    • For a unique way to explore, hire a boat to traverse the canal-crisscrossed interior of Languedoc. Everything from short day trips to self-captained multi-day journeys along the 150-mile long canal is available and, for most boats, you don’t need a licence.
    • For route planning visit Quelle Route.

      From the blog...