The largest vineyard in the world is in the Languedoc Rousillon region of France – not a well-known fact, but this very special region of France has many such surprises. Not as famous as its apparently sexier neighbour Provence, it offers far more – a huge variety of food, spectacular mountainous scenery, beaches, climbing, some truly world-class art with museums to match and a bewildering variety of wines.
Sun lizards will rejoice to know that Languedoc Roussillon is the second hottest region in France, after Corsica. Inland temperatures are known to peak at 40°C during July and August (with Nîmes often called the hottest city in France). On average, summer temperatures exceed 30°C, though coastal temperatures tend to be a few degrees cooler. As Languedoc Rousillon is a vast region, its climate varies widely, with mountainous and valley areas seeing cooler and damper weather, along with the occasional storm. Spring and autumn in Languedoc are moderate, the heaviest rainfall occurring in January and February.
The official currency in France is the euro (€). One euro equals 100 centime coins. At the current exchange rate:
£1 = € 1.16
$1 = € 0.81
220V, 50Hz. Standard European two pin plugs.
Country Dialling Code: +33
Regional Dialling Code: 04
EU citizens require a valid passport for a stay of up to three months. Non-EU citizens require a visa, except USA, Canada, Australia and New Zealand citizens. Tourists intending to stay in France longer than 90 days need to apply for a residence permit (carte de séjour) at a local town hall (mairie) or departmental préfecture.
By law a service charge of 10-15% is included in all restaurant and café bills. In addition to this it is customary to leave an extra €2 tip on the table if you are pleased with the service. Taxi drivers are usually tipped 10% while hotel porters, doormen, hairdressers and tour guides often expect a customary tip of €1 – €2.
1 January: New Year’s Day
Good Friday (varies)
Easter Monday (varies)
Ascension Day (40 days after Easter)
Pentecost (50 days after Easter)
1 May: Labour Day
8 May: Victory Day
12 May: Whit Monday
14 July: Bastille Day
15 August: Assumption Day
1 November: All Saint’s Day
11 November: Armistice Day
25 December: Christmas Day
Alexandra Szydlowska is a freelance travel journalist and editor based in London, UK. She writes for a range of online and print publications, with a special emphasis on Eastern European travel.