Most consider Provence and the Cote d’Azure the south of France, but Languedoc-Roussillon is the true southernmost region of France. Our tours are in the Pyrenees-Orientales département, in the Languedoc-Roussillon région that skirts the Mediterranean coast as it turns down toward Spain. More precisely, we are in the southern-most Roussillon, just a few kilometers from the Spanish border.
The cultural region on our side of the border is called French Catalonia, or northern Catalonia. It shares the same language and culture with southern Catalonia in Spain (Barcelona being the capital of south Catalonia).
Down there they speak mainly Catalan, Spanish coming in second. Here, on the French side, the main language is French, with Catalan coming in second. But in remote villages you often hear conversations in Catalan.
So this multidimensional region is influenced by three different cultures: French, Catalan and Spanish. It only seems natural that the landscape too would express diversity. And that it does. The frigid altitudes of Mount Canigou seemingly rise straight out of the blue-green Mediterranean sea. For that very juxtaposition, Mount Canigou was believed to be the highest peak in the Pyrenees for quite a long time—its height exaggerated by the low altitude of the Roussillon plain and sea spreading out at its base.
The region lies along the Mediterranean coast where the Pyrenees dramatically drop into the sea. It’s a place where citrus trees grow next to cherry trees and the snow-capped Canigou towers over palm trees in the valley. Olive groves and vineyards thrive on the arid hillsides and earthy cheeses come from herds high up in the peaks. This is a place where cultures and habitats collide, where France meets Spain and mountains meet sea—a veritable paradise for Real Travelers.