The Hérault is a beautiful department located in the true South of France pretty much in the centre of the Languedoc Roussillon, now part of the greater region of Occitanie. It has a huge amount to offer for all ages and budgets, from the outstanding soft sandy Mediterranean beaches in the south to the mountains of the Cevenne in the north. It also benefits from a wonderful Mediterranean climate.
The main cities of the Hérault are its prefecture city of Montpellier, Sete, Agde and Beziers, but there is plenty to see and do in the more rural parts with some stunning villages and wonderful countryside whether you have money to spend or are on a tight budget.
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Bling in Hérault…
If you are looking to splash out, there are some exceptional hotels and restaurants in the Hérault. Check out the Villa Miramar at Frontignan, for example Villa Miramar | Villa Miramar – Luxury guest house Bassin de Thau (villa-miramar.fr) which is located right on the beach with truly breathtaking views, top notch service, fantastic rooms all of which face the sea and sheer luxury in terms of facilities. Frontignan is on the outskirts of Sete, itself worth looking at and the home of George Brassens, one of the most popular French folk singers. Alternatively there is an outstanding country manor hotel on the “Relais et Chateaux” hotels list, Domane de Verchant just north-east of Montpellier Domaine de Verchant | OFFICIAL SITE | 5 Star Hotel & Spa near Montpellier
Anyone looking for fine gourmet food and wines has come to the right place here! There are no less than 19 restaurants in the Michelin Guide in the city of Montpellier.
Another lovely idea if you are keen to exercise as well as enjoy 5 star cuisine is to sign up for a gourmet walking tour in Sete. Taking 3 hours, you have a guide who will take you through the pretty streets of this seaside town, sampling speciality French foods and wines and visiting les Halles, the gorgeous food market. SETE GRAND TOUR | Activities and Leisure | Tourist Office Sète (tourisme-sete.com) This is something which in fact will suit all budgets although if money is no object, you may well be tempted to sample and buy some top end wines at the end of the tour!
Pushing the boat out a little further, you can reserve a private wine and food tour either by car, walking or boat and have it tailor made to your requirements. Private Tours – Montpellier Wine Tours
Hiring a boat privately to cruise along the Canal du Midi is a wonderful way to explore this region. There is a variety of boats to choose from either with a skipper on on your own. A great way to do this is to start over on the west side around the Trebes area and cruise along the Canal du Midi all the way to where it meets the Mediterranean Sea. You can even combine a cruise with a wine tasting and have the company book restaurants for you along the way. Premier Boats | Canal & River Boats | Le Boat
Hérault on a budget…
On a limited budget? You will not be short of things to do or places to go in the Hérault. You can, for example, rent a bike at very reasonable cost and cycle through some spectacular countryside, packing a picnic for your day out which saves on cost. Alternatively there are several hiking trails which take in various of the tremendous historical sites the department has to offer. Not only does this not cost you anything at all but you will feel fit as a fiddle afterwards.
However, the main lure of this department is the beach – or rather the beaches.
There are over 100 kilometres of soft, sandy beaches here with safe swimming, glorious sunshine and all sorts of water sports.
La Grande Motte has been hailed as a modern wonder: a beautiful beach with 1970s style buildings where you can rent an apartment without breaking the bank, the whole place geared towards a healthy environment. There is an apiary especially devoted to the preservation of bees, a marine centre where you can learn about turtles and other sea creatures as well as a pedestrian precinct ideal for exploring by bike. The whole area is maintained by lifeguards, the beach has received awards for its cleanliness and there is easy access for disabled people. There really is something for everyone here.
The Cap d’Agde is known for its naturist beach but it also has a delightful little town with plenty of greenery, parks and trees, Agde from where you can drive or walk over to the Etang de Thau which is basically a salt water lake. Check out Marseillan, a working fishing port kind of like a smaller St. Tropez but without the bling – a gorgeous place to linger with a coffee and watch the world go by.
You will discover numerous other beaches south of Montpellier such as Portiragnes, Lazaret in Sete, Vendres, Valras Plage and Vic La Gardiole.
There is a beautiful golf course near La Grande Motte as well as tennis courts and an adventure park for the children at very reasonable prices.
Further inland and to the west of the department is the popular town of Beziers, with its tree lined central promenade and quaint little side streets to wander in. Pezenas is also worth a visit – somewhere to browse for antiques and other knick knacks, not necessarily costing the earth. Minerve, the ancient cathar stronghold is an extraordinary place and classified as “one of the most beautiful villages in France”. None of these excursions will cost you a fortune.
Whatever your budget, the Hérault is somewhere you can visit and never tire of, such is its diversity.