Formerly the regions of Languedoc-Roussillon and Midi-Pyrénées.
The former Languedoc-Roussillon extends over 125 miles of coast between the Pyrenees and the mouth of the Rhone. It has plenty to offer, including France's oldest vineyards, precipitous Cathar fortresses, atmospheric old towns and endless beaches. The two provinces that form the region, Languedoc and Roussillon, comprise the departements Lozere, Gard, Herault, Aude and Pyrenees-Orientales. The capital is Montpellier. The most northerly departement, Lozere - otherwise known as Cevennes - is the most sparsely populated part of France. The precipitous fortresses in the Corbiere Mountains, built in the 10th - 11th centuries as part of a belt of defences against Aragon, were then used as havens by the Cathars (Albigensians) in the 13th century. The swampy coastline, sprinkled with numerous lagoons (etangs), originally had few seaside resorts. Not until after 1963 did the transformation of the whole west coast of the Golfe du Lion begin: marshes were drained, beaches opened, old towns like Sete, Agde and Perpignan were expanded and dozens of holiday settlements were built. The oldest and best known, is Grande Motte, opened in 1974 and was followed by many more, such as Port Barcares, Port Leucate, Gruissan, Cap d'Agde and Port Camargue.