TO KNOW | FAVOURITES
The Hérault department in the South West of France is such a diverse region. Of course there is the beach, but the hinterland is also worth discovering. Historical towns, charming villages, magnificent natural parks: it’s all waiting for you to explore! Not to forget the numerous activities you can do. Besides hiking, biking and swimming, why not try kayaking, stand-up paddling, canyoning or rock climbing, for a change? Here is a top ten to help you enjoy the beautiful Hérault department to the max. And if you search for ‘Hérault’ on the blog, La Ramoneta will show you many more places of interest!
If you could be in love with a city, it would be Montpellier for me. I could write an entire blog just about Montpellier. The instant Mediterranean vibe, the historical centre with its narrow streets, the numerous, cosy squares hosting the best terraces, the countless cool restaurants and bars, and so much more. I love it!
Saint-Guilhem-le-Désert is situated in the ‘Parc Naturel Régional du Haut-Languedoc’ and beautifully surrounded by wonderful countryside. I completely understand why this lovely village is listed as one of the most beautiful in France and even as a Grand Site de France and a UNESCO World Heritage Site. When you walk the narrow streets and admire the charming houses, this medieval village will transport you back in time.
Lac du Salagou is an artificial lake and was built in the sixties to irrigate the surrounding agricultural fields. Because of the red earth around the lake, the landscape is often compared to the Arizona desert. In France! Some people don’t like this lake. I don’t really understand why as you can do all kinds of sporting activities. Swimming, of course, but also (mounting) biking, sailing, canoeing, surfing to name a few. At the ‘Base de Plein Air’ just outside of the village of Liausson, you will find all the rental equipment and a small restaurant with snacks.
Here’s a unique place I would never have discovered if it wasn’t for the knowledgeable people at Sète’s Tourism Office. They advised me to visit the quaint district of “Pointe Courte”, to get to know the real heart and soul of Sète. This small fishermen’s neighbourhood lies in the north of Sète, between the Canal Royal and the Étang de Thau lagoon.
Things are happening in Béziers! This hidden South of France gem has recently been polished and is now an even more pleasant town in which to spend some time. Whether you love strolling through picturesque little streets, having a glass of wine at one of the many terraces or indulging your curiosity for French history: it’s all here. Let me guide you through one of the oldest cities in France. I warn you, this list is just the beginning… There is so much more to discover!
In summer, you can take a dip in the refreshing Orb River with the scenic picture-postcard view of Roquebrun in the background. Locally known as the Nice of Hérault, Roquebrun benefits from a microclimate. We love to go here to escape the crowds on the beach, swimming while our children catch our evening meal. Not really, the fish are very tiny, but it keeps the kids busy for ages. Do bring your water shoes though, to protect your feet from all the pebbles.
Hidden in the inland of Languedoc and surrounded by vineyards and the Mediterranean vegetation called garrigue, lies the charming village of Assignan. Although, I have to admit that I don’t just visit for its picturesque atmosphere. Assignan has three fantastic restaurants that all merit a trip. First of all, there is the Michelin starred restaurant La Table de Castigno. Secondly, you will find slow food restaurant, tapas and wine bar La Petite Table. And last, but not least, the wonderful Thai de Castigno for when I long for Asian food.
In summer, the beautiful Gorges d’Héric in the heart of the ‘Parc Naturel Régional du Haut-Languedoc’ are well worth a visit. Perfect for a swim in the river Orb and the naturally formed rock pools. Only for the brave though, as the water is cold as ice, even in the summer! To round off the day, you will find plenty of wonderful places to spread your picnic blanket.
The landscape at Cirque de Mourèze is amazing. This beautiful valley lies between the Orb and Hérault rivers. Dolomite rock columns spread out like some sort of natural labyrinth, with fanciful rocks ranging from 170 to 530 meters high. You can let your imagination run wild with the strange rock formations- a fun game to play with children. You might spot the ‘Sphinx’ or ‘Camel’, and the ‘Great Manitou’ will transport you to the Wild West.
When you drive up the winding roads to Minerve, this amazingly beautiful spot and its stunning landscape will overwhelm you. Minerve is an ancient Cathar fortress and is surrounded by gorges that eroded from where two rivers La Cesse and Le Brian come together. The village is perched on a high ridge, which offers a naturally strong defensive position to protect it. When visiting, you will see that Minerve is very well-preserved, and it will take you straight back to the Middle Ages with its winding, cobbly roads. A lovely walk brings you down to the river where you can see the natural bridges and the Saint-Rustique well.