Summer in Occitanie. Why will you fall in love with this French region?
When I say to my friends that I am going to the « south of France », they immediately assume that I will be in Provence. No wonder — for most people « south of France » means Nice, Cannes and famous Provence.
Summer in Occitanie – what is this French region all about?
Do you like sea? Do like to hike? Are you interested in historical sites? Or maybe you want to discover famous French cuisine? And how about concerts and picturesque medieval villages to visit?
Occitanie offers everything you want and more. I fell in love with this region at the first sip of wine, taste of local food, and the song of the cicada.
I think that Occitanie is one of the best places if you want to rest, discover new places and enjoy the famous « joie de vivre ». And one more thing – you will not drown in crowds of tourists. Occitanie is for now not as famous as Italian Tuscany or French Provence. But for sure it can provide entertainment for all the family.
What will you find in Occitanie?
Occitanie: region for people loving food
I mean, you don’t go to France to eat only carrots and follow your strict pre-Christmas diet, right? Especially if you go to Occitanie. If you love fruits de mer – you are in a right place. Oysters, shrimps and lobsters with white wine will make you want to move to France. If you love carbs (and who doesn’t?) you will fall in love with aligot – originally from the region of Aubrac, made of cheese blended into mashed potatoes. Aligot should be eaten with a sausage and combined with a great red wine.
If you dream about restaurant gastronomique – a high end place with a view – I advise you to book a place in one of the most famous and best restaurants in Montpellier – La Réserve Rimbaud. The chef has a sparkle of genius in him and you can count on the best sommeliers to advise you how to pick the best wine for your menu.
Occitanie: region for sports obsessed people
In my opinion Occitanie is one of the best places to spend active vacations. You can hike and make long walks in the Cévennes – National Park, only 60 kilometers (around 37 miles) from Montpellier. Moreover, you will not find this place crowded!
If you like to be close to nature and enjoy proximity of water, you can try kayaking in the Hérauld river. There are plenty of places where you can rent a kayak and spend all afternoon on the lazy waters. French people like to kayak and then enjoy picnic on the river band. Take food and water to drink with you – near the Hérauld river there are not so many places to buy food.
Camargue in Occitanie is a region known for its graceful white horses. Many places offer horse-riding on the beach, so you can spend a romantic evening (as long as mosquitoes will not eat you alive…)
If you are afraid of horses and don’t like to do kayaking, you can always enjoy simple biking in Occitanie. French people bike on the road and drivers are used to them – since many bikers train for the famous Tour de France. Maybe this year you will join them?
Occitanie: region for people who want to cool down
Yes, it gets very hot in Occitanie, even local people find it sometimes too warm to do anything. Fortunately, there are some places, like for example museum Fabre, where you can find lower temperatures and not melt in the middle of the street.
When people visit Paris they go to Louvre, when you go to Montpellier you visit museum Fabre. They have an amazing collection of art, I especially admire paintings of Frédéric Bazille – one of the impressionists, friend of Monet and other French artists.
You can also count on the fact that they invite artists from all around the world for temporary exhibitions. Right now – up to the end of November you can enjoy modern art: Francis Bacon and Bruce Nauman.
Occitanie: region for people who hate people
What is great in Occitanie is the fact that you can find places there that are almost abandoned. No need to queue for hours like in Paris and other big cities! Of course, during the summer beaches are full of people and do not expect the restaurants to be empty. But while visiting little villages and walking in the Cévennes, you will not need to use your elbows to push, and there is a little chance someone will hit you with a selfie stick.
Occitanie: region for people who love people
On the other hand, if you enjoy spending time with people you will find places in Occitanie to mingle and make friends. Montpellier – one of the biggest cities in the region – is knowns as a place where young Europeans come to study (I mean party, but they call it « studying ».) Especially during summer Montpellier is full of people and you can find a great atmosphere at estivales.
During summer, every Friday in the centre of Montpellier you can enjoy en plein air fresh local food and wine. And even if you don’t speak French, after few glasses of wine it will be easier to blend with the local people.
Occitanie: region for wine lovers
You come to France for 2 reasons – to find out why everyone says that this country is so amazing and secondly to finally understand why some people decided to abandon beer and drink wine instead.
Occitanie is a region where you will find 280.000 hectares of vineyards and you can enjoy red wines, white, sparkling and sweet, and of course famous rosé – adored by French people and served usually during the summer. You can pick between syrah, grenache and mourvèdre but to find the « best of the best » look for the AOC designation (which means Appellation d’Origine Contrôlée – controlled designation of origin.) In short it means: good wine!
What is great in Occitanie is that you can combine wine tasting and sport. In many places are organized « Routes de Vins » walks in the nature during which you discover local wines. One of the most famous events « Les Vignes Buissonnières » takes place in June and I had the pleasure to enjoy it a few years ago. Between romantic landscapes, great food and delicious wine you can understand why so many people dream about living in this French region…
I hope I have encouraged you enough to visit Occitanie! And don’t tell everybody about this region, let’s keep it our secret 🙂
If you want to see my vlog about Occitania click here.
Not sure if you will like to go to France? Check “100 Things to do in France” and get inspired!