With its unspoilt sandy coast, its tranquil green interior and its dramatic highlands, Hérault offers an impressive range of landscapes and activities.
Thanks to the introduction of low-cost flights over the last few years, he region has become increasingly accessible from the UK. Montpellier, capital of the Languedoc, is the main hub in the east, while Beziers provides excellent links in the south-west.
For the coast and mountains of the Haut-Languedoc, Béziers Cap d’Agde airport (00 33 4 67 80 99 09; beziers.aeroport.fr) is ideally located. It is currently served from Luton and Bristol by Ryanair (0871 246 000; ryanair.com). On 27 May, Flybe (0871 700 2000; flybe.com) starts a new service to Béziers from Southampton.
The alternative gateway is Montpellier’s Méditerranée airport (00 33 4 67 20 85 00; montpellier.aeroport.fr), which is well positioned for access to the eastern parts of the district. It is served by easyJet (0871 244 2366; easyjet.com) from Gatwick and Luton, and from Leeds/Bradford by Ryanair. On 13 April, Ryanair will introduce a new route to Montpellier from Birmingham. Another new route to Montpellier will be launched by Bmibaby (0905 828 2828; bmibaby.com) on 2 July, with flights from Manchester.
Three other good arrival points for Hérault: Marseille, Nîmes and Perpignan, which have good rail and road connections.
The high-speed trains to Hérault ake rail a viable alternative to flying. The journey from London St Pancras to Montpellier’s Saint-Roch station, with a change of trains in Lille or Paris (where you must also change stations, from Gare du Nord to Gare de Lyon), takes seven or eight hours. Eurostar (08705 186 186; eurostar.com) sells tickets on this route for as little as £119 return.
Fast trains from Paris also call at Béziers, Sète and Agde. From 9 July to 10 September a summer service of direct trains operates on Saturdays between London St Pancras and Avignon-Centre stations, with easy connections to the region.
From Orange, the A9 motorway runs from the north-east to the south-west, linking Montpellier and Béziers and allowing quick access to the coast. From the Channel ports, however, the most scenic approach is on the A75 motorway that runs through the Massif Central; Dieppe and Le Havre are particularly well placed for avoiding the congestion around Paris.
Rail services run from Montpellier to Frontignan, Sète, Agde, Vias, Béziers, Bédarieux and Lunel. There are 68 local bus lines: consult Hérault Transport (00 33 825 34 01 34; heraulttransport.fr) for more details. From sea to mountains, a car offers the most convenient means of exploring this varied region. Car rental options available from Béziers Cap d’Agde airport include Hertz (08708 44 88 44; hertz.com), which has a rate from around €240 for a week.
Hérault in Languedoc Tourisme, Maison du Tourisme, Avenue des Moulins, 34184 Montpellier Cedex 4 (00 33 825 34 00 34; languedoc.com)