10 Things to Do in the Haut Languedoc Natural Regional Park
<a href = "https://www.flickr.com/photos/152043517@N06/32043966143/in/photolist-QPBGJT-S6YDjP-VqkzCE-RSGfwV-S6a7YU-SiYVcc-S1ddoj-RQfADd-p16yb5"> Haut Languedoc Natural Regional Park | © Christian Ferrer/Flickr
The Haut Languedoc Natural Park is a regional park in the south of France between the cities of Toulouse and Montpellier. Often overshadowed by France’s National Parks, its scenery and picturesque villages can easily compete with some of the other parks in the country, and here are some of the reasons why.
Cycle the Passa Païs
This ‘green route‘ covers over 70km (around 44 miles) of the Haut Languedoc Park, from Bédarieux to Mazamet. Offering spectacular views of the undulating hills, vineyards, and meadows while weaving through patches of local forest, over streams and canals, this is the perfect way to explore a big area of the park. Points of interest are marked along the route, and it passes through pretty villages and hamlets.
Watersports in Lac de la Raviège
Lake Raviège is a large artificial mountainous lake that straddles the borders of the regional park. It looks like it belongs more to Norway than the south of France with its dense forests that cup the waters’ edge and crystal-clear water. You can pretty much get involved with any types of water sports and the beach at La Salvetat-sur-Agout is very pretty.
Lac de la Raviège
This region of France is synonymous with wine making thanks to its Mediterranean sun-soaked terrain, and it couldn’t be easier to find a vineyard and a local Languedoc winegrower tour. Those who fancy a vineyard-filled bike tour or a simpler affair, spend some time learning and sampling the wines in the regional park.
Orb River Valley Vineyards | © Christian Ferrer / Flickr
Jaur River Fishing
Jaur River is the perfect place fishing lovers to take their rods and fish for trout, perch, pike, and more.
Eat at Les Fleurs d’Olargues
The restaurant Les Fleurs d’Olargues has one of the most gorgeous terraces ever. Looking out over the Devil’s Bridge (pictured below) and with a view of the village of Olargues, it is truly a Languedoc experience both in setting and food. Make sure to phone ahead to get one of the tables out here because on a summer’s evening, there’s nowhere better to eat in the Haut Languedoc Natural Regional Park.
Kayak the River l’Orb
The River l’Orb runs for over 140km (about 87 miles), a lot of which is within the park boundaries. Where could be better to kayak than on one of its picturesque stretches? Again, other areas in France, such as the Dordogne, are more well-known for water activities, but this simply means that the River l’Orb is less crowded and has a better value.
Thermal Spa at Lamalou les Bains
The spa town of Lamalou les Bains should definitely be on a list of places to visit when exploring the regional park. Not only is it a pretty village, but it’s been an operating spa town since the 13th century. Take in the thermal waters with relaxation pool time, spa massages, and more.
Lamalou les Bains, France
Mediterranean Garden at Roquebrun
The views from the Mediterranean Garden at Roquebrun can’t be beaten. Look out over vineyards and mountains and the river twinkling below. The garden itself, open since 1987, is a plant lover’s dream, with layers and levels of succulents, cacti and other Mediterranean plants that thrive in Roquebrun’s unique micro-climate. In the summer, the garden is open every day.
Swim in Waterfalls at Colombières-sur-Orb
This area of France is amazing for river swimming and even better for natural waterfalls. Head just north of Colombières-sur-Orb for a really special, unspoiled spot for waterfall jumping, swimming, and general frolicking.
Instead of visiting another vineyard, find a local café and drink the local rosé. In rosé country, a cold glass never tasted so good. Café owners will happily inform patrons whereabouts within the region their wine has come from, so don’t be afraid to ask. St-Pons-de-Thomieres and Roquebrun are perfect for an aperitif.
Rosé wine | © Chris Pople / Flickr