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Things to See in the Languedoc:   Historic Villages and Bastides   

Circular villages.   In medieval times villages of this region were often situated on hilltops and built in a circular fashion for defensive purposes. Many examples can be found in the Razès.

They are now called circulades. You can see numerous of examples of Circulades in the Languedoc-Roussillon by clicking on the following link to a page dedicated to Circulades .



People have been building fortified hilltop settlements here since prehistoric times. They are called oppida and you can visit a spectacular example, the Oppidum de Enserune, near to the modern village of Nissan-lez-Enserune in the Hérault département.

Bastides.  The word bastide covers two types of settlement. The first is the small defensive hill-top hamlet or village, possibly but not necessarily a circulade. The second is a sort of medieval planned settlement, typically laid out on a grid pattern, rather like many modern purpose-built cities. (Indeed the idea of laying cities out like this came from medieval bastides). A good example of this grid-like bastide, the Bastide of St-Louis,can be seen at the heart of the new city of Carcassonne.

Les Plus Beaux Villages de France. literally the most beautiful villages in France. To qualify even for consideration the village must have no more than 2000 inhabitants and possess at least two sites classified as of historic interested ("Listed" in UK speak). The following villages in the Languedoc have been granted the accolade:

Aude département: Lagrasse
Gard département: Aiguèze
Hérault département: Minerve, Olargues, Saint-Guilhem-le-Désert
Lozère département: La Garde-Guérin, Sainte-Enimie
Pyrénées-Orientales département: Castelnou, Eus, Evol, Mosset, Villefranche-de-Conflent ( The Name in Occitan. Clich here to find out more about occitan.   Vilafranca)

Wesite of "Les Beaux Villages de France"

Languedoc-Roussillon Villages of interest:

Bugarach and the Pic de Bugarach:  in the Aude département - becoming famous as the place where you can sit out the end of the world in December 1012. Bugarach and the Pic de Bugarach  

Rennes-le-Château:  in the Aude département - the site of a famous French mystery. Click on the folling link for more on Rennes-le-Château  

Rennes-les-Bains:  in the Aude département - an ancient spa town. Click on the following link for more on Rennes-les-Bains

Tautavel:  in the Pyrénées-Orientales département, where some of the earliest human remains in Europe have been discovered, and where there is an exceptionally good international museum on prehistoric man. Click on the foolling link for more on Tautavel

Cordes-sur-Ciel: ( The Name in Occitan. Click here to find out more about occitan.   Còrda) a spectacular hill top village, increasingly dedicated to tourism. Click on the foolling link for more on Cordes-sur-Ciel

Saint-Guilhem-le-Désert: a pretty valley village. One of the "plus beaux villages" in France, built around a ninth century Abbey. Click on the following link for more on Saint-Guilhem-le-Désert

Gruissan: a small Mediterranean sea port built around a tenth century tower. Click on the following link for more on Gruissan

Marsa: a small village in the Rebenty Valley. Click on the following link for more on Marsa

Camon: Near Mirepoix. A village with fortifications and abbey, classified as one of the most beautiful in France.

Eus: in the Pyrénées-Orientales département. One of the "plus beaux villages" in France and also the sunniest spot in the country.






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Circular Village.
Historic Villages
and Bastides