Wonderful weather, historic heritage, magnificent mountains and beautiful beaches make Montpellier hiking holidays very special. To prove this point we’ve put together this guide to trekking in Languedoc Roussillon region in the South of France.
Montpellier hiking holidays
Montpellier is one of France’s great cities and makes a great base for trekking in Languedoc. The city’s heritage is unique due to its lack of both Ancient Greek and Roman influence. But that’s not to say the city has nothing to offer.
Its key sights rank amongst the finest in France. The 14th century Saint Pierre Cathedral is a stunning building and the imposing Saint Clement Aqueduct has to be visited. Plus Montpellier is near some fantastic beaches.
Montpellier hiking holidays are served by a huge variety of apartments and hotels that suit all tastes and budgets. Staying in Montpellier you’ll have the facilities of the city, but be perfectly placed to explore the Languedoc region which reaches from the Med to the peaks of the Pyrenees.
You can fly direct to Montpellier from 14 cities in Europe including London. Alternatively hop on the Newhaven to Dieppe ferry (4 hours) and the drive to the South of France (8 hours). You can also get the Eurostar from London, change in Paris and be in Montpellier in around 7 hours.
Guide to trekking in Languedoc
The Languedoc Roussillon region in the South of France offers a huge variety of hikes. From coastal walks linking beautiful beaches, to high mountain trails surrounded by the peaks of the Pyrenees it offers something for everyone.
Languedoc mountain trekking
The Pyrenees is a diverse box of trekking chocolates. Much of the eastern Pyrenees hiking crosses over into the neighbouring region of Midi Pyrenees, but is within reach of Montpellier.
Hardcore hikers won’t want to miss the 3000m-high peaks of the Ariege Valley. This locale of glittering lakes and colourful flora stays snow-capped until April so snowshoes and a good anti-shock trekking pole are essential. Ideally plan at least two days for an Ariege trek.
Along the French, Andorran and Spanish borders you can trek for many days, staying in mountain huts at night. Starting low is it common to ascend 500-700m a day, until you can watch the sunset from the top of the world.
The more adventurous can break trail and explore the glacial cirques and alluring ridges. The helpful mountain road network leads to the base of many trails making access easy and offering many day hikes.
While in the Pyrenees be sure to stop, or preferably stay overnight, in the delightful spa town of Ax les Thermes near the Andorran border. It’s conveniently located below the alpine zone and offers good quality accommodation, eateries, and leisure activities plus excellent lift accessed hiking.
Les Angles and Font Romeu are other ski resorts in the area that become great for hiking in the summer. Using the ski lifts you can get to the more interesting trails quicker and cover more miles within the Catalan Pyrenees regional park.
River trekking in Languedoc
For a different kind of trekking experience, try the Alzon River. The pay-offs here are geographical and historical; 60m below the historic town of Uzes is a selection of springs that fed the Roman-built Nimes aqueduct that was so crucial to France’s early development.
Little about the landscape has changed since those times; you’ll pass through lofty trees, ambrosial meadows and a stunning, shade-giving valley. Only the odd medieval building and mill has been erected since.
Although it is not the hardcore trails of the Pyrenees you’ll still need appropriate footwear. Particularly when making your way along the often muddy river to the springs.
Montpellier hiking holidays: Beach trails
Dreamy sand dunes roll on forever behind Espiguette, Europe’s longest beach at 9.6km – perfect for hours of bare foot strolling. This is one for wannabe castaways as there are no buildings in the vicinity.
Only the odd food and drink vendor is likely to bother you. Be warned – or not as the case may be – that the further you wander, the more naturists you’ll find. On the southern D62-A9-D979 route, Espiguette is just over an hour’s drive from Montpellier.
For a much more built-up alternative, try the Cap d’Age which boasts a total of 9 beaches linked by 14km of footpaths that are well worth a hike. There’s plenty of cafes, restaurants and bars to recharge your batteries in.
It gets busy in the summer, but you can retreat to a pleasant headland to the west and enjoy the views of the Pyrenees in the distance. The nudist beach is arguably the prettiest and most pristine in Languedoc. It costs £5 to enter and the evening entertainment is certainly not for the whole family.
La Tamarissiere is singular in that it’s a powder-sand beach fringed by delightful pine trees that are well worth taking half a day to explore. Located near Agde, some 65km southwest of Montpellier, La Tamarissiere is something of a hidden gem with some nice hikes.
Lake trekking in Languedoc
Further afield is Lac de Montbel, a 550 hectare reservoir perfect for relaxation, swimming and watersports. In the summer, the water turns a gorgeous turquoise, is relatively current-free and stays as warm as a bath all day long.
Trekkers like to make their way along the semi-flooded hillsides of Lac de Montbel to investigate the peculiar tree stumps and marl (local clay of a thick consistency). There are plenty of day hikes in the area offering magnificent views.
Languedoc National Parks
To top it all off there are some great national parks you can visit on Montpellier hiking holidays. There are four national and regional parks in the area all with plenty of day-hikes and longer trekking trails.
Top of the list is the Haut Languedoc Natural Regional Park. Located on the coast in the foothills of the the Pyrenees it has a rich landscape made up of lakes, gorges, valleys and mountains plus it’s home to traditional villages. Hiking the Monts du Caroux chain and the Espinouse hills is popular.
Rising above the Languedoc plains and the Mediterranean is the Cevennes National Park in the north of the region. There are a high density of hiking trails in the area including 22 educational trails to help you understand the region.
Also worth visiting is the Narbonne Regional Park which combines wetlands with a semi-desert environment. The final park is the Catalan Pyrenees Regional Park which includes much of the hiking mentioned above in the Pyrenees section.
There are not many places in Europe that offer magnificent beaches and massive mountains, which is what makes trekking in Languedoc Roussillon region so special. And centrally located Montpellier hiking holidays provide a great base to explore the region.
If you would like to book a hiking holiday be sure to check out our trekking discounts as you could save a fortune.