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The department of the Hérault and, more generally, Languedoc-Roussillon have many tourist attractions, whether they be historical, cultural or purely natural. The following are some examples - starting from the closest.

Villeneuvette

Founded in 1673 by a merchant from Clermont, the 'factory' was granted royal patronage by Louis XIV and production was devoted to the manufacture of fine woollen cloth often brightly coloured. Some of these were used for army uniforms. Most of the original buildings as well as the gardens and the pine woods were bought by the Department in 1989. The tranquil atmosphere visitors find here is due to the careful restoration to the buildings and the open spaces and also the respect of the site's history. Guided tours are available.

Mourèze

 kind of lunar landscapes awaits you. Giant columns of limestone (dolomites) left standing after the surrounding rocks have eroded. Some of these have even got names. Walks are indicated lasting from 45 minutes up to 3hrs 30 minutes

Lake  Salagou

Unfortunately the scenery is best after a good rainfall. The red earth contrasts against the green vegetation and the blue (by then) sky and waters of the lake. But even without the rain this is an impressive site.

It is also a paradise for all kinds of activities, sailing, windsurfing, swimming (the water temperature can attain 28°C in summer) as well as cycling and walking. Something for all abilities

 

Clermont l'Hérault

The town grew beneath the castle which dates back to the 12th century. From the top of the hill 'Pioch Castel' there is a magnificent view over the town and the Hérault valley. Down in the town you'll find Saint Paul 's church, the present building was started at the end of the 13th century but in fact is built on the ruins of a Roman structure. It is a masterpiece of fortified gothic architecture. The rose window is one of the finest in the Midi

Also at Clermont there is the olive co-operative. Founded in 1920 the ‘moulin’ handles 80% of the department’s olive production by some 3,800 producers. Take a look in the shop for a variety of products as well as oil and olives themselves.

 

Every Wednesday throughout the year there is the street market – all types of colourful and, most importantly, local produce



 

 

Pézenas

During the 1650's Molière and his theatre group stayed in the town and performed in public.

The architecture itself merits a visit. Large private houses (called ‘hotels’), remains of the town ramparts, turrets etc. There are walking tours around the old town – pop into the Tourist Office in the town centre for a free plan. Today there are plenty of antique shops, art galleries and boutiques and the inevitable souvenir shops. Just take a stroll around and soak it all in.

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Cassan Castle - Abbey

The abbey was founded in 1080. and the priory church was consecrated on the 6th October 1115 . Pope Innocent III placed it directly under the authority of the Holy See. In 1268 the canons gave the King, Louis IX, the authority to award the priory the 'fleurs de lis' and to become the Royal Cassan Priory. In 1539 the priory was burnt down for the first time, again in 1563 this time by Protestant troops. In 1671 it was united with the Saint-Geneviève Abbey in Paris . During the second half of the 18th century the prior Pas de Beualieu rebuilt the monastery in the style of those times (1754-1758).

 

 

Saint Guilhem le Désert

Recorded history of this village starts during the 8th century. The few villagers of that time grouped around the Gellone Abbey.  Guilhem, a lieutenant of Charlemagne, was the founder. Relics of the cross of Christ and of Guilhem himself, he was by then canonised, began to attract pilgrimages. The village still is an important stop on the pilgrim route of Saint Jacques of Compostelle



The Clamouse Grotto

To be found in-between St Jean de Fos and St Guilhem le Désert

The cave, discovered in 1945, opens under the southern hills of the Larzac plain. It is notable for the whiteness of its forms and the beauty of the crystallisations. The first part of the visit takes you along the bed of an old river and then onto the ‘white corridor’ full of white (as you might expect) formations which defy gravity and then to the ‘cemetery’ chamber.

 


Béziers

Olé – this is the sound of Béziers during the August fête. Bull fighting,,bodegas, casitas,, horse riding events, It’s a colourful event to say the least, day s and nights blend into a fever pitch of music and dance

The Canal du Midi and the locks at Fonsérane

The building of the canal took part during the 17th century. They were planned and overseen by Paul Ricquet, a native of Béziers. He had had to convince Colbert, the then finance minister, to help fund the project. The canal is 150miles long and flows from the étang de Thau to Toulouse . From there one can continue all the way to the Atlantic Ocean . Close to Béziers the locks at Fonséranes still operate and are as impressive as ever. They allow the canal to ‘climb’ the hill via a series of 9 locks. This area is now classed as a UNESCO World Inheritence Site.

The banks are planted with plane trees for shade which makes it an ideal place for a stroll or cycle ride. Alternatively there are many barge tours available.

The African reserve at Sigean

 

Situated between Narbonne and Perpignan on the Mediterranean coast and bordered by the small inland seas which identify the Languedoc coastline, the reserve has more than 3,800 animals on almost 750 acres. The area is sufficiently large and unspoilt to allow the animals to remain in a semi-natural and wild environment.

Montpellier

A town full of history at the crossroads for this region. One of the oldest universities in Europe and now right up to date with several I.T. companies. Festivals and exhibitions throughout the year.

There are several museums and galleries to see, or you can just take a stroll round the shops. Something for everyone.

 

A bit further there is Carcassonne and the Cathar region, Nîmes, Avignon, Spain (the Dali Museum at Figueres is only just over the border) and plenty more.

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