PUBLISHED: 15:51 20 September 2016
An insider's guide to Hérault in Languedoc-Roussillon-Midi-Pyrénées, including the main attractions to visit on holiday, the best towns and villages to live in, the major festivals and events, and buying property in Hérault
Hérault is in the region of Languedoc-Roussillon-Midi-Pyrénées, also home to the departments of Gard, Aveyron Gard, Tarn and Aude. Geographically diverse, Hérault has the Mediterranean coastline in the south, the Cévennes mountains in the north, and mainly agricultural land in between.
Due to its varied landscape, it’s no surprise Hérault is popular with tourists and expats – long, golden beaches can be enjoyed in the warmer months, vibrant city life can be found in the department’s capital Montpellier and also in the lively towns of Béziers and Pézenas and the beautiful villages that dot the centre of the department.
It enjoys warm, sunny summers and mild winters, and food lovers can expect a lot of wine, fish and fresh seafood, along with a few department specialities, to enjoy. With easy access to Hérault via flights from the UK straight to Montpellier and Béziers, and train journies direct from, the department is definitely worth a visit with plenty to see and do.
Plane: There are regular flights from the UK to both Montpellier and Béziers airports
Train: After getting the Eurostar to Paris, jump on the TGV straight to Montpellier
Car: Montpellier is 1038 km drive from Calais
Places to visit in Hérault
The capital of Hérault, and the former region’s capital of the Languedoc-Roussillon region, is Montpellier, the third largest city on the Mediterranean coast. It has a large student population and the Université de Montpellier was established in 1289, making it one of the oldest universities in the world. Sights include the Place de la Comédie; a beehive of activity day and night, with cafes, restaurants and vibrant street entertainment surrounding the square to enjoy. The elegant hôtels particuliers is an enchanting sight for architecture lovers, the urban mansions created for aristocrats in the 17th century are dotted all over France, and Montpellier’s hôtels are buildings of beauty.
The town of Pézenas is home to more than 30 historic monuments including mansions, stone stairs, courtyards and decorated facades all located in a small perimeter to marvel at. Here you will find grand mansions, hôtels particuliers, such as Hotel Carion de Nizas and Hotel d´Alfonse, the latter being associated with French playwright Molière. Particularly popular in the summer, visitors can enjoy the regular Friday night Estivale where shops stay open late, local vineyards sell their wine on the streets and the town centre becomes alive with street entertainment.
There are three Plus Beaux Villages de France (the most beautiful villages in France) in Hérault. The stony village of Minerve surrounded by a deep gorge and greenery, sitting at the foot of the Caroux Mountains you’ll find Olargues, full of quaint paved streets and covered passageways and St-Guilhem-le-Désert home to the UNESCO World Heritage Site of Gellone Abbey, a gem of the region’s Romanesque art.
The Cévennes are a range of mountains stretching along the south of France perfect for exploring. Hikers can enjoy breathtaking views from the cliffs of Pic St Loup with its remarkable peak and its north face and beautifully scenic walks can be taken along the Hérault river gorges between the villages of Ganges and St-Guilhem-le-Désert.
Avid walkers can also head to part of the stunning national park of Haut-Languedoc which is located in Hérault. It provides a habitat for more than 240 species of birds which have adapted to the diverse range of climate and scenery there. A place of rolling hills covered in forests, fast flowing rivers and pretty villages, there’s many wonderful views to appreciate.
Things to do in Hérault
Located on the Mediterranean coast, Hérault is home to many popular beaches, with visitors and residents enjoying various water spots, lazy afternoons under the sun and traditional beach games with the kids. From the iconic seaside resort of La Grande Motte near Montpellier ideal for family entertainment to the Vias Plage, a long sheltered cover of fine sand lined with grassy banks to give visitors a more secluded stretch of beach to relax on.
Home to the famous Feria de Béziers, around one million visitors descend to Béziers for five days in August, to watch plenty of corridas (bull fights) and enjoy atmospheric street parties that carry late into the night. The town has plenty of architectural wonders to visit including the Saint-Nazaire Cathedral, a Roman Catholic cathedral dating back to the 13th century and The Plateau des Poétes, a vast park boasting numerous statues of poets and a monumental fountain of the Titan by Béziers sculptor Jean Antoine Injalbert.
Wine, fish and fresh seafood are in plentiful supply in Languedoc-Roussillion, while specialities in the Hérault department include the brightly coloured berlingot de Pézenas sweets, petit pâte de Pézenas, a small spiced mice tart with a savoury or sweet filling with origins from India and the asperge des sables, a sweet-tasting asparagus.
The rivers of Hérault are particularly pretty. The Orb, which runs through Béziers, is rock-bottomed and clear, and popular with fishermen and anglers. Swimming in the rock pools of the Gorges d’Heric is particularly magical. Cruising along the Canal du Midi, running through the entirety of the department, is extremely popular with tourists, as well as walking or cycling along the tow paths soaking in the beauty of the landscape.
Buying property in Hérault
From Mediterranean coastline to bustling town and city life, it’s little wonder why many expats and second home owners choose to buy property in Hérault. The average property price in the department is around €207 000, considerably more than the average property price in France (€157,600) and the most expensive department in the Languedoc-Roussillon region.
Property prices do vary throughout Hérault with popular cities, towns and villages more expensive than those less visited by tourists and expats. The most expensive is the department’s bustling capital Montpellier which has an average property price of around €273,300 while the smaller town of Béziers has an average property price of
Due to the department’s varying landscape, overseas buyers have a host of miscellaneous property styles on offer. Popular styles of property include cosy stone cottages in many of Hérault’s pretty villages, stylish apartments in Montpellier and busier towns and picturesque farmhouses with plenty of surrounding acreage. Being beside the beautiful golden sands of the Mediterranean coastline provides buy-to-let investment opportunities as the area is popular choice for holidaymakers.
You can find properties in Hérault for sale on the France Property Shop website