As the region has managed to steer clear of mass tourism, it is ideal for visitors looking for a relaxing holiday. It has a lot to offer and appeals to a large range of holidaymakers seeking access to beaches, the Regional Park, rivers and lakes but also for its strong cultural heritage and sporting activities. With several international airports (see below) and a good motorway network, the Haut Languedoc is very well connected to other parts of France and Europe. It’s important not to forget that compared to some other regions in France, the area benefits from a warm Mediterranean climate which makes for an extended holiday rental season.
The Haut Languedoc National Park is an area of outstanding beauty and is one of the most striking and least developed parts of Mediterranean France. It lies to the west of the Hérault department, where the forests of the Massif Central give way to the Mediterranean plateaux of the South of France. There are some simply stunning flora and flora in our mountains and plenty of interesting birds including a pair of golden eagles.
"The Greenway" of the Haut Languedoc is about 80 km long and is dedicated to non-motorised use only. Cyclists, walkers and horse riders are in their element here.
The Greenway crosses the entire width of the Regional Park of Haut-Languedoc and follows the valleys of three rivers: Thoré, Jaur and Orb. At the point where the Greenway crosses from the department of the Tarn to the department of the Hérault,
there is an 800m tunnel constructed under the peak of the Fenille. At the same spot is the ridge-line separating the Mediterranean and Atlantic watershed. This
phenomena lead to its name in the Occitan language called “PassaPaïs” – which literally translates to “crossing country.”
This outstanding variety of climates and landscapes make for a breath-taking experience! From the Tarn department, the itinerary passes through hedgerow landscapes, the ash and oak forests of the Montagne noire and the rolling hills of the
Anglès plateau. In the Hérault department, the landscape is more defined by chestnut trees and holm oaks followed by scrubland and vineyards... to the first
palm trees that can be seen in Lamalou-les-Bains and Bédarieux.
Olargues is in the Vallée du Jaur at the heart of the Park. The village is classed as one of the most beautiful in France (Les plus Beaux Villages de France) and is of strong architectural and historical interest. This rare accolade is awarded by a governing body to villages which fulfil strict criteria and aims to help "protect and promote the outstanding heritage of these exceptional villages". 13 such villages can be found in the Languedoc-Roussillon and you will find that those villages, plus the ones surrounding them enjoy considerable popularity for all the right reasons.
Olargues enjoys an exceptional location.Fabulous scenery, chestnut and cherry trees intermingled with vines and olive trees, mountain lakes, forests, rivers and gorges surround this quiet and unspoilt village. Built on the banks of the Jaur River at the foot of the Caroux Mountains, it is really very pretty with narrow cobbled streets between its stone-built houses. Village services include a post office and small shops for most needs, visiting “camionnettes” (country charcuterie and farm products) and a choice of bars and restaurants to serve a population of 650.
Walking, rambling, rock climbing, biking, kayaking, fishing, golfing, horse riding etc. are all available locally. But none of these activities are de rigueur; Olargues and the Haut Languedoc make for an equally good time if you just want to relax. Fancy a picnic by an isolated waterfall with a cool, clear pool for safe swimming? We can point you in the right direction. A book, a baguette and a bottle of local wine for a dozy afternoon by the riverbank? Omar Kayam would understand.
Olargues and the surrounding villages aren't entirely without activity, though. There are also boules, local markets and spring and summer fêtes, including a well-attended Organic Products Fair in August, for those looking for a taste of authentic French village life.
Main Olargues fetes in are:
May: Flower & Garden Fete
August: Music Festival, Organic Produce Fete
September: Heritage Fete
November: New Wine & Chestnut Fete
December: Christmas Market
And of course there's the vendange in the autumn; the wine harvest always finishes with a great deal of good cheer, infinite bonhomie, and just the odd taste of last year's vintage as well.
This gorge, a ten-minute drive away from Olargues and fifteen minutes from Lamalou, resembles a huge sabre slash penetrating 5 kilometres into the southern slopes of the Monts de l’Espinouse. It is one of the most outstanding beauty spots in this mountain range. The area offers spectacular walks, hiking and swimming in the crystal clear waters of the gorge’s deep rock pools and local lakes and rivers. The walls of the gorge provide the finest rock faces in the region and are therefore popular with rock climbers (there is a rock climbing school). There are several mountain adventure centres offering climbing, canyoning and mountain biking.
For a really informative Facebook page about local walks written by local enthusiasts log into Face Book and search for Walks in the Languedoc group n° 337053039794196.
Mountain and all terrain bikes including child seats and transporters are available for hire in Mons la Trivalle and Poujol sur Orb. The river Orb provides some of the best canoeing and kayaking in France for beginners and enthusiasts alike. Golf, fishing, horse riding, tennis and much more can also be found locally.
Lamalou les Bains is a charming spa town established in 1878 with many examples of elegant Belle Époque period architecture. With its population of 2280 it lies at an altitude of 200 metres and offers commanding views of the rivers, lakes and mountains situated in the Haut Languedoc. “Ici même l’air est beau”.
The town has a good range of shops, services and restaurants, a municipal swimming pool, a boulodrome, tennis courts, horse–riding stables and a 9 hole golf course. It also has a casino, cinema (often with English language films), summer open air musical events and a theatre, which hosts a professional operetta season twice a year. There is a weekly food market as well as frequent craft fairs. The source de Vernière and its naturally sparkling spring water bottling plant is located on the far bank of the River Orb opposite the town.
Lamalou les Bains plays an important role in the French healthcare system providing short term thermal cures and specialist longer term rehabilitation care and treatment for serious burns cases and all manner of musculoskeletal and orthopaedic needs. The level of services available in the town are therefore adapted to the yearlong requirements of tourists, in and out patients and curistes taking the waters, as well as visitors enjoying the spa facilities.
For more information: http://www.ot-lamaloulesbains.fr/en
The medieval village of Le Poujol sur Orb is about 15 minutes’ drive from Olargues and 5 minutes from Lamalou les Bains. It also has a selection of shops, a small bar/snack and two restaurants. With an 11th century chateau at its heart, with foundations thought to date back to the 800s, most of the village developed around the 16th century. Penetrate beyond the less interesting main road into the labyrinth of streets which make up the old village and delight in finding hidden squares and fountains and a vibrant mixture of architecture from several eras.
Or maybe you want to use the valley as a touring base. The mountain lakes and plateau for swimming and water sports, with clear views to Spain, are a 30-minute drive. Head off to the miles of Mediterranean beaches, an hour away and visit some of the many coastal fishing towns. The spectacular cité of Carcassonne, the largest medieval walled city in Europe (and used for the exteriors of Camelot), is about an hour and half by car. So are the stunning Cathare castles, last strongholds of the Albigensians - Peyrepeteuse in particular is awe-inspiring. Albi itself, well worth a visit if only for the Toulouse-Lautrec connections, is about the same distance. For a change of language, the Spanish border is two hours away; for a change of direction, a couple of hours would see you beyond Montpellier and in the heart of the Camargue.
Return via the vineyard plain with its many fascinating domains, all offering the opportunity to sample wines from the 300 vineyards of the region. And then back in our valley with its special charm, you can relax in beautiful surroundings. Here in this rich unspoilt region with fine wines and superb cuisine, you will be spoilt for choice at any time of year in one of the South’s best kept secrets.
Roquebrun: This pretty village is known as “Little Nice” and the “Garden of the Mediterranean” because of its botanical gardens. It lies on the same latitude as Nice itself and enjoys a temperate microclimate. A large beach and river swimming can be enjoyed here.
St Chinian: This market town has a great variety of restaurants and stores. A market is held every Sunday in the pretty shaded square. It is lined by the handsome Mairie, which looks out on to formal gardens. The local AOC wine is famous throughout the region and you will find many caves to visit for wine tasting.
Béziers: The nearest large town Béziers has a main avenue surrounded with cafés and restaurants. It is famous for its bullfighting and summer festival and has many large stores and hypermarkets as well as an interesting weekly market.
Valras Plage: The nearest coastal town resort. It is also a fishing port; hence it’s fine cuisine. Miles of sandy beaches can be explored here.
Montpellier: The cosmopolitan capital of the Hérault. Montpellier has a vast shopping area surrounded by its historical district on one side and dynamic modern architecture and vibrant nightlife on the other.
Pézenas: Famous for its many bric-a-brac and antique shops. Its ancient architecture takes us back to the time of Molière who passed much of his life here. Many fascinating summer boutiques full of regional specialties and hand crafts.
Carcassonne: With it’s 2,500 years of history, now a perfectly restored medieval fortified city, the largest in Europe and second most visited attraction in France. Numerous restaurants can be found here along with visits to the cathedral, chateau and museum.
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Les Quatr' Farceurs
Rue de la Comporte
Tel: +33 467 978 133
Mob: + 33 680 271 448
Fax: +33 959 06 65 77
To make a reservation now, you can also use our online form.
Check the tourist office website http://www.ot-caroux.fr/en to find out local events and news from Olargues and the Haut Languedoc area.