A land of contrasts, the Pays d’Oc will never cease to surprise you with its mix of cultures and histories. Between the Mediterranean and Provence, Nîmes evokes the splendor of ancient Rome while, to the west, the city of Montpellier skilfully reconciles medieval alleyways and new districts bearing the hallmarks of the greatest international architects. Toulouse, the “Ville Rose”, will not only impress you with the wealth of its heritage, but will also add a colourful and festive note to your itinerary. En route for the south-west!
Nîmes gained a significant heritage from the presence of the Romans. Among the most remarkable remains, the Maison Carrée, a wonderfully preserved Roman temple, the Tour Magne, not forgetting the majestic amphitheatre. Another unmissable sight: the “temple to modernity”, the Carré d’Art, a media library and museum of contemporary art by Lord Norman Foster.
What to see
- Amphitheatre of Nîmes
Without a doubt the best preserved amphitheatre from the Roman era, the Amphitheatre of Nîmes hosts a number of concerts every summer.
- Pont du Gard
Remnants of a Roman aqueduct built more than 2,000 years ago to take water from Uzès to Nîmes. Mind-boggling…
Aglaea, Euphrosyne and Thalia. The Three Graces decorate the fountain of the same name that you can admire in the famous Place de la Comédie. A city of designers, discover the Saint Roch district and its workshop- boutiques. Christian Lacroix is designing two new tramway lines in 2012. Montpellier is also home to the oldest university of medicine still in use in Europe, as well as more than 70 private mansion courtyards.
What to see
- Musée Fabre
Paintings, sculptures, graphical and decorative arts. One of the largest museums in France, it holds internationally renowned exhibitions every year.
- Castle and ramparts of the city of Carcassonne
Relive the Cathar saga in the fortified city of Carcassonne and contemplate the surrounding vineyards from the top of its 52 towers.
- The Millau Viaduct
An exceptional structure in the Midi-Pyrénées region, the Millau Viaduct, reaching more than 300 metres into the sky, is the tallest road bridge in the world.
Toulouse, a city of contrasts with an exceptional heritage, has wonderful surprises in store for you. The majesty of the Capitole, private mansions including the Hôtel d’Assézat, brick and stone buildings including the St Sernin basilica or the “palm tree” and cloisters of the Jacobins, rich museum collections including the astonishing wall of skeletons at the Museum de Toulouse, cruises on the Garonne and on the Canal du Midi. As you go from site to site, prepare to be amazed!
What to see
- The Airbus factory and the Cité de l’espace, Toulouse
Young and old head off either to conquer the sky with a visit to the A380, Caravelle or Concorde, or on the fascinating discovery of the universe!
- Pic du Midi
By foot or by cable car, climb the Pic du Midi and reach the summit of the Pyrenees. A breathtaking view.
Zoom 1 :
In the days of the romans
End of the 1st century, Roman empire. An amphitheatre with capacity for 20,000 spectators was built in Nîmes to entertain the population. Still preserved almost 2,000 years later, today it hosts concerts and shows. The mark left by the Romans is revealed throughout your stay in the south of France: the Roman road in Montpellier and the Pont du Gard to name just two. In Toulouse, visit the Musée des Antiques and walk the ramparts of this “Ville Rose” which owes its nickname to the colour of the bricks brought by the Romans for their buildings. Stroll back through time.
Zoom 2 :
Flavours from the south flavours from the heart
Warm and family-oriented, the cuisine of the south will delight taste buds. Take advantage of a break between Nîmes, Montpellier and Toulouse to enter local restaurants and discover an lilting, colourful gastronomy, often scented with olive oil. Brandade de Nîmes, tapenade, pies, cassoulet and Toulouse sausages, garbure, magret and foie gras… there’s something here for everyone’s taste. There’s no shortage of sweet things either, with the Violettes de Toulouse, marshmallows and grisettes de Montpellier. Take a bite and escape into a sweeter world.
April: The Great Roman Games in the Amphitheatre of Nîmes
June: Rio Loco festival, Toulouse
Siestes Electroniques festival, Toulouse
June/July: Montpellier Dance Festival
June/August: Carcassonne Festival
July: Radio France and Montpellier Festival
July/August: Jazz in Marciac
Sacred Music Festival at the Sylvanès Abbey
Pablo Casals festival, Prades
Exceptional cultural sites
1 Amphitheatre of Nîmes
2 Pont du Gard
3 Musée Fabre - Montpellier
4 Carcassonne: The city
5 Carcassonne: Bastide Saint-Louis
6 The Millau Viaduct
7 Cité de l'espace de Toulouse
8 Pic du Midi
9 Maison Carrée, Tour Magne - Nîmes
10 Place de la Comédie - Montpellier
11 Scénovision Molière
12 Salses fortress
13 Le Capitole - Toulouse
14 Canal du Midi
15 Episcopal City of Albi
16 Montmaurin archaeological site
17 Pyrenees - Mont Perdu
18 Cité de Villefranche-de-Conflent
19 Citadel of Mont Louis
20 Château du Colombier
21 Château de Castelnau-Bretenoux
22 Château de Montal