Languedoc-Roussillon has it all

Where in the world is there a place that has it all? Something for everyone of all ages, all interests, and all year round? Paradise springs to mind but the answer is here, in the Languedoc-Roussillon.

Although probably best known as a Mediterranean summer holiday destination, at this time of year thoughts turn to skiing at the numerous nearby slopes.

skiing

The ski slopes and resorts of the Pyrenées on the Spanish border to the West of the region and the Cévennes near Nîmes to the East are close enough for a day trip or an overnight stay if you prefer. With a wide choice of pistes from green to black and generally good skiing conditions from November to April, there are great destinations for all the family. The Languedoc-Roussillon has 18 ski stations to choose from, all offering a range of activities including alpine skiing, cross country skiing, snowboarding, snow shoeing, husky sledging, horse riding, thermal spas and much more.

It tends to be great value for money, including the hotels and restaurants, and not as expensive as other areas such as the Alps.

The diagram below shows the pistes of the Pyrenées and North of Montpellier and Nîmes are Mont Aigoual, Mas de la Barque and Mont Ventoux is further east; all are within a couple of hours drive.

skiing map

The Languedoc has glorious sunshine all year round and as I write this, there are wide blue, cloudless skies, sunshine and the gentlest breeze stirring the olive trees and trying in vain to tumble the leaves off the fig tree in my garden. With 177km of Mediterranean coastline and some of the most beautiful long, wide and sandy beaches in the south of France, the region has a worldwide famous Mediterranean climate.

beach

Putting aside all the obvious attractions of the area, such as the expansive vineyards (making it the largest winegrowing area in the world), the Mediterranean produce (olives, apricots, peaches, cherries, melons, asparagus, salt from the Camargue etc), the fresh seafood and shellfish, it has some of the most beautiful landscape in France.- deep gorges and canyons, mountains with panoramic views of the plains and unspoiled countryside.

The region is steeped in history from prehistoric cave paintings and Neolithic tombs, to many examples of ancient architecture including, Roman, medieval and Cathar castles. The area is also associated with some of the world's greatest artists - Monet, Picasso, Dali, Gauguin, van Gogh, Toulouse-Lautrec, Matisse and many more).

If it's sport or outdoor pursuits you seek, then look no further. The area is rich in open countryside, mountains, lakes and rivers and offers a wide opportunity for walking and hiking for all ages and abilities on 6000 km of maintained, marked out pathways. There are many natural cliffs to climb in this area and suitable climbs can be found for the full range of abilities from beginners to experts. Climbing is possible year round, as is caving and pot-holing in the region's many underground caves, tunnels and pot-holes.

golf

For golfers, the region currently has 16 golf clubs, each one with its own style and design but all with excellent facilities offering an all year round sport.

France loves to cycle and whatever style of cycling you enjoy, there is something here for you. You can follow the route of the Languedoc sections of the Tour de France or get off the beaten track and into trails through the countryside and mountains. There are also the 'Voie Verte' trails which follow old railway lines so they are quite flat and weave through vines and olive groves as they link up each of the villages. The 240km of pathways alongside the Canal du Midi is also a great place to cycle.

Fishing, hunting, horse riding or simply just walking your dog, the weather here rarely stops you from getting out into the fresh air and enjoying yourself. The Languedoc has a wide range of suitable areas for water sports, such as water skiing, sailing, windsurfing, canoeing and kayaking, on the sea, lagoons, lakes, canals and rivers. Or just glide effortlessly along the Canal du Midi on a barge.

walking

For adults there are bustling cosmopolitan cities, excellent shops, restaurants, bars, casinos and nightclubs and during the summer months an array of festivals and fêtes to dance the night away.

Not forgetting the multitude of wines to sample. The cosmopolitan population makes it easy to make new friends and expand social networks. There are many opportunities for cultural interests such as museums, galleries, the opera, theatre and cinemas. For the children there are large amusement and water parks, a huge aquarium, safari park, funfairs and circuses.

If that's not enough to keep you busy, then the great thing about this region is that it is easily accessible to many other places. There is no other region with as many airports within easy reach, good and easy access to a motorway network and an excellent train and TGV service. You can pop over to Spain for lunch or overnight in Barcelona and Gerona. Drive over to Italy for a long weekend or take a boat to Corsica. Provence, Paris, Lyon, the Côte d'Azur, Monaco and the Pyrenees Mountains are all easy to get to by car or train. Take a short flight to Morocco and Marrakech. Or make a day-trip to Andorra and stock up on all those tax-free goodies.

Quite simply, whatever it is you want to do, from toddlers to teenagers and 30-somethings to octogenarians, the Languedoc-Roussillon has it all.