Languedoc, a historical region Le Languedoc, une terre d’histoire
Languedoc, a land of history
The Languedoc region is a land of conquests and exchanges with traces everywhere of a prestigious but turbulent past offering visitors a surprising diversity of sights… As mentioned in our short history of winegrowing, the story of the Languedoc region took root a long time ago and even if the Greeks founded the first vineyards it was in prehistoric times that the first Europeans settled on the edge of the Mediterranean in Tautavel 450,000 years ago. However, it was really the Romans that formed the winegrowing landscape and the landscape of Languedoc as it is today. The famous Via Domitia was a veritable highway of the south, stretching from Rome to Spain and left behind a rich inheritance of bridges, oppida and military outposts in the Languedoc region. Some of the sites are an absolute must-see such as the town of Nimes with its fully functional, complete arena and the Maison Carrée or the Pont du Gard, classed as world heritage by the UNESCO world heritage centre in the town of Narbonne, an ancient Roman capital.
Centuries later, the Middle Ages would leave behind it a number of vestiges, citadels and abbeys, jewels of Roman art. Visit Saint-Michel de Cuxa on the way from Saint-Martin du Canigou, then Fontfroide in the Aude and Valmagne in the Herault, then follow the route of Saint-Jacques de Compostelle from Saint-Gilles du Gard to Saint-Guilhem le Désert, also classed by the UNESCO world Heritage Centre.
A period of wealth from the 16th to the 18th-century would also contribute to the new cultural heritage of Languedoc. Pezenas, the “Versailles of Languedoc” was built and the famous Canal du Midi, “the Canal of two seas” was dug by Pierre-Paul Riquet to link the Mediterranean to the Atlantic. This has also been classed as world heritage by UNESCO. A number of luxurious townhouses and cathedrals, such as the cathedral in Montpellier as well as the fortress, The Palais des Rois de Majorque in Perpignan were built at this time.
The 20th century would see the development of towns in Languedoc thanks to the spread of the road and railway network. Today, Nimes in Montpellier waging a contemporary architectural battle both socially and culturally. A number of other cities are following in their footsteps, for example Narbone, a pioneering town in the area of sustainable development. In the 70s, the territorial planning mission developed the sandy beaches of seaside resorts such as Cap d’Agde, Gruissan and Leucate.
Source : The Languedoc-Roussillon regional committee of tourism