I knew practically nothing about Occitanie when I moved to France. It just took place to be the spot of an condominium I could afford on a confined money. Nine decades on, nevertheless residing happily in the very same little village, I have uncovered that Occitanie has all the features that draw hordes of site visitors to Provence, but it’s less learned, significantly less touristy and a lot less costly.
The region’s affordability, lower criminal offense fee and superb air excellent are just some of the qualities that make it a single of the most liveable and desirable components of France. I have my possess factors, I have listed 10 of them in this article. And I could very easily appear back with 10 more.
1. Cost of living
Living listed here is certainly very affordable — even on very little far more than a Social Protection examine. My lover and I fork out $760 a thirty day period (such as electricity and water) for our two-bed room apartment with a back garden that, many thanks to the mild local climate, we delight in 12 months-round. Rents farther inland tend to be lessen.
We devote between $325 and $380 a thirty day period on groceries, mostly from weekly farmers markets and discounted grocery chains.
Lunch out charges around $15 for a plat du jour. And, finally, as we toast our superior life with glasses of excellent community wine, there is the extra satisfaction of knowing that the bottle charge considerably less than $4.
2. Howdy, sunshine
The south of France says sunshine, and Occitanie has close to 300 times a calendar year of it, only a little much less than Provence.
Positioned amongst the Pyrenees and the Mediterranean, the area enjoys a normally Mediterranean local climate with very hot, dry summers, interesting winters, and reasonable springs and autumns.
3. Miles of seashores
Occitanie’s soft sandy seashores run from the eastern Pyrenees to the Rhône delta, a 136-mile stretch of coastline.
Within a half-hour generate of household, I can acquire my decide of quite a few beaches, every with its have distinctive sense — including a nudist seashore, which I haven’t tried out.
Most of the beach locations are near to dining places and relaxed retailers, a number of are open up 12 months-round. In summer season, for about $27, you can rent a sunlight-lounger and umbrella, and delight in a beverage and gentle lunch brought to your chair-side table. It’s not a lousy way to shell out the working day.
4. The good outdoor
One particular of 3 national parks in Occitanie and listed as a UNESCO Earth Biosphere Reserve, Cévennes is an out of doors paradise of limestone cliffs, volcanic plateaus, and scrub-coated plains intersected with rivers and streams.
Forget about the word “park” and believe of a massive geographic region that covers areas of 4 different departments. Whether or not you’re on the lookout for remarkable landscapes, hiking, canoeing, or quaint French villages that feel frozen in time, Cévennes has it all, which includes a neighborhood specialty: Pélardon, a delicious comfortable goat’s cheese.
5. A meals lover’s paradise
Speaking of foodstuff, Occitanie is a foodie’s paradise. I like to demonstrate off the various out of doors marketplaces to people. It’s enjoyment to watch their reactions to stall following stall of community develop, regional cheeses, shimmering olives, tubs of tapenades, ropes of saucisson sec (dry remedied sausages), artisan breads of all shapes and measurements, new seafood, and buckets brimming with vibrant bouquets.
Owning fired up our appetites, it is off to sample some Occitanie cuisine: cassoulet, a Toulouse specialty of beans and sausages, or tielle, an octopus and tomato pie from the fishing port of Sète.
Readers by no means leave hungry.
6. Vineyards, vineyards all over the place
Just after driving for miles and seeing absolutely nothing but vineyards, you won’t be astonished to find out that Occitanie is France’s greatest wine region. But what could possibly surprise you is that several vineyards are modest family-owned affairs.
With a few vigneron (winemaking) neighbors, I’ve produced a terrific appreciation for the operate and artistry associated in generating wine. Although this area is less geared to travelers, many domaines do have roadside indications offering dégustations — drop in for a glass and maybe a chat with the winemaker.
7. Quaint hilltop villages
With its maze of winding cobblestone alleyways and very small mullion-windowed homes, Saint-Guilhem-le-Désert generally enchants.
Nestled in the extraordinary Hérault Gorge, and a prevent on the pilgrim route to Santiago de Compostela, this hilltop village is mentioned as the 1 of the most gorgeous in France.
At the best of the hill is the Abbey of Gellone, a UNESCO Globe Heritage Web page. Appreciate a consume at one of the out of doors cafés and shelter from the sunshine beneath a 180-12 months-old airplane tree.
8. Cruise the Canal du Midi
Fancy a lazy houseboat cruise? You can rent a barge or houseboat on the 17th-century Canal du Midi, a 149-mile community of waterways that move from Occitanie’s cash, Toulouse, to the Thau Lagoon around Sète.
Commit a weekend or much more, sip a glass of wine, and enjoy the French countryside slowly drift previous. Or just consider a stroll or ride a bicycle along the canal’s leafy banks.
9. Key to the locks
Regarded as an remarkable feat of engineering, the UNESCO-outlined Canal du Midi was intended by Béziers native Pierre-Paul Riquet. His statue presides over Les Allées Paul-Riquet, a tree-lined boulevard of dining establishments, retailers and outdoor markets. From the city’s center, it’s a nice walk to the canal, the place you can check out barges go by means of the staircase of locks — les 9 écluses de Fonseranes — which Riquet also intended.
10. Experience bloody minded?
What would a area be without having ugly record? Take Occitanie’s Pays Cathare, Cathar Region, for instance. A collection of 12th- and 13th-century castles, churches and ruins once belonging to a spiritual sect that dared oppose the Catholic Church — right until Pope Innocent III determined he’d experienced adequate and released a crusade to eradicate them.
He began in Béziers, the place crusaders slaughtered the city’s full populace, all over 15,000 people, then burned the spot to the floor. More than the following 20 decades, Cathar strongholds have been rampaged right up until the sect was inevitably regarded as wiped out.
Now, Pays Cathare is a significant vacationer draw. You will see indications almost everywhere. Guided tours are obtainable.
This posting originally ran in International Residing.
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