Bed and breakfast by the Canal du Midi in the South of France
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The Region: The Languedoc

The Languedoc is different from the rest of France, with a character all of its own. It was once a separate country (Occitania) and the local language, Occitain, is still spoken by some villagers. The region is bordered on the south by the Mediterranean, to the north by the mountains of the Cevennes, and to the west by the Pyrenees; from Ventenac you can usually see “Le Canigou”, one of the highest peaks in the Pyrenees at almost 2800m.

The famous tourist attraction of Carcassonne is about 40km away. Although it is described by UNESCO (it is a World Heritage site) as “an outstanding example of a medieval fortified town” most of the fairytale buildings of La Cité were recreated in the 19th century. The commercial centre of Carcassonne, on the other side of the River Aude from La Cité, is also interesting for visitors, with lots of small shops and cafés.

Carcassonne was one of the focal points of the 13th century crusade against the Cathars, waged by France on behalf of the established church. Although the crusade was religious, the effect was political: in 1229, after just 20 years of fighting, the Languedoc was under the control of the King of France. The last of the Cathar strongholds, at Quéribus, fell in 1255: the castle here was restored at the end of the last century, and is one of many reminders of the crusade that can still be seen all over the region. Another is the ancient city of Minerve, which is about 10km from Ventenac, is well worth a visit.

Narbonne, the biggest local town, was established by the Romans in 118BC, and became the capital of the province of Gallia Narbonensis. Narbonne was an important port in those times, but the river which provided access to the sea silted up in the 14th century. The river later formed the basis of the Canal de la Robine, which still runs through the town centre, linking the sea with the Canal du Midi. The centre of Narbonne is charming, with many cafés from which to people-watch. Some of the best are in the pedestrianised square outside the Cathedral and Town Hall, where there is a short section of the Via Domitia, the first road built in Gaul by the Romans.


carcassonne bed and breakfast
Carcassonne
Minerve bed and breakfast
Minerve
Narbonne bed and breakfast
Narbonne