A long crescent of Mediterranean seacoast, Roman ruins, nearly intact medieval cities, fresh-food markets everywhere and the biggest grape growing region in the world help make this area of southwest France a little slice of paradise.
The area's towns retain many of the old features of French life - numerous small bakeries, butchers, patisseries and green grocers. Trucks pull into town squares with boxes of huge wild mushrooms harvested from nearby woods and kiosks of shellfish purveyors stand under the trees.
The vines, almost all of which grow red grapes, are everywhere. At harvest time the cobbled streets of hill towns run purple with grape juice as residue is rinsed from the presses. The air is permeated with the musky aroma of fermenting wine.
Languedoc's attractions include walled cities such as Carcasonne and Aigues Mortes, the Tarn River gorges and river and sea bathing. It's also a great jumping off point for visits to the Pyrenees and northern Spain. Barcelona is just a few hours away.