Road-Trip for two in Occitania

road trip occitanie : De Montpellier à Sète

Join us for a duo adventure in sunny Occitanie. To make the most of your experience, we’ve put together a road-trip for you.

Roman remains, old ports and bucolic strolls: that’s what you’ll find (in part) in the beautiful Occitan region. The region, which now comprises 13 départements, is one of the most popular spots for sun-seeking travellers. But despite the tourist boom, it has managed to remain authentic.

So we’ve put together a road-trip from Nîmes to Collioure: an adventure that lets you explore part of the Occitan region. And road-trip means… car! To make this trip simple, smooth and economical, opt for a car rental from Ada. You can book online and collect your rental car directly from one of the many Ada agencies in the region.

Departing from Nîmes…

Road Trip Occitanie : Au départ de Nîmes...

Photo credit: Shutterstock – saiko3p

  • 🗺️ Itinerary: from Nîmes to Saintes-Maries-de-la-Mer
  • 🚗 Distance: 56 kilometers – 1 hour
  • 📷 Places to visit: the Roman remains and parks of Nîmes, the Camargue national park, the old town of Les Saintes-Maries-de-la-Mer and its church
  • 🏠 Where to stay: Atypical Camargue house

Our Occitan adventure begins in Nîmes, Ville d’Art et d’Histoire. Before taking to the road to cross the region, we invite you to spend some time in this magnificent city steeped in antiquity. In Nîmes, you can discover the famous arena, which served as a refuge from enemy attacks. Other Roman vestiges will punctuate your visit, such as the Roman enclosure, the Maison Carrée, an ancient temple dating from the 1st century AD, or the Castellum Aquae, a basin that allows you to understand the canalization system of the time.

And don’t forget to visit Nîmes’ Halles market, where you can sample some of the local produce (olives, for example). Once you’ve had your fill, take a romantic stroll through the Jardins de la Fontaine, home to the Temple of Diana and the Tour de Magne. And if you feel like it, opt for a visit to the Tour de l’Horloge, or the Musée de la Romanité. In short: a stay in Nîmes is a time capsule to the Roman era!

Now it’s time to head south to Les Saintes-Maries-de-la-Mer. If you’ve opted for a rental car from Ada, you can pick it up at one of our car rental agencies in Nîmes. Once you’re behind the wheel, you’ll need about an hour to reach your destination. You can also make a detour to the Pont du Gard, a site well worth seeing.

On the way to Les Saintes-Maries-de-la-Mer, you’ll see the enchanting landscape of the Camargue. Don’t forget to stop and visit the national park, where peace and quiet reign supreme over the wilderness. Don’t forget your camera! You’ll be able to immortalize the pink flamingos in the park’s largest pond (Vaccarès), and even go for a horseback ride.

After this truce with nature in a bucolic setting, it’s time to discover the town of Les Saintes-Maries-de-la-Mer. First, take a tour of the village and lose yourself in its picturesque alleyways. We recommend a visit to the famous church, which houses the relics of the saints Marie-Jacobé and Marie-Salomé, as well as the statue of Sara la Noire, patron saint of the Traveller community. Every year, they come to celebrate her during a particularly festive pilgrimage!

With your rental car, explore the surrounding area, including the Pont de Gau ornithological park, the Paul Ricard bullfighting estate, and the « cabane de gardien », a typical Camargue dwelling.

To take the step further :

  • The Gacholle lighthouse dates from 1882;
  • The arenas, where festive events and equestrian shows take place;
  • The Camargue Museum to learn more about the region.

Des-Saintes-Maries-de-la-Mer to Montpellier

Des-Saintes-Maries-de-la-Mer à Montpellier

Photo credit: Shutterstock – saiko3p

  • 🗺️ Itinerary: from Les Saints-Maries-de-la-Mer to Montpellier
  • 🚗 Distance: 63 kilometers – 1h06
  • 📷 Places to visit: Place de la Comédie, historic center, Promenade du Peyrou, Jardin des Plantes
  • 🏠 Where to stay: Design and vintage loft in the center of town

When you wake up in Les Saintes-Maries-de-la-Mer, take time to enjoy breakfast and coffee in the old port, before setting off for Montpellier. The route is once again magnificent, passing through the charming town of Aigues-Mortes, the port town of Le Grau-du-Roi, before heading back to Montpellier.

Once there, set off to explore this city of culture, where large pedestrian avenues intermingle with more discreet alleyways. One of the highlights of a visit to Montpellier is the Place de la Comédie, with its famous 18th-century fountain of the Three Graces. Afterwards, stroll through the historic center, known as L’Écusson, where you’ll find plenty to eat in a small southern village atmosphere.

Need to recharge your batteries away from the hustle and bustle of the city? You’re in luck: Montpellier has many parks and promenades to discover. For starters, take a stroll along the Promenade du Peyrou, which offers beautiful views of the Cévennes mountains and the sea. Next, explore France’s oldest botanical garden, the Jardin des Plantes, which dates back to the 16th century. Here you can admire numerous tropical plants and fruit trees.

Finally, if you’re in the mood for a bit of culture, try one of the city’s museums! The choice is yours, depending on your interests: the Musée Fabre, with its many paintings, the strange Museum of Anatomy or the Musée d’Art « Atger ».

After a day or more of sightseeing, enjoy Montpellier’s nightlife and convivial gastronomy.

To take the step further :

  • A boat trip to Palavas-les-Flots;
  • The Château de Flaugergues, a plunge into the aristocracy of the Ancien Régime;
  • A hike on the Pic Saint-Loup for fresh air in magnificent surroundings!

From Montpellier to Sète

road trip occitanie : De Montpellier à Sète

Photo credit: Shutterstock – umat34

  • 🗺️ Itinerary: Montpellier to Sète
  • 🚗 Distance: 31 kilometers – 45 minutes
  • 📷 Places to visit: the marina, canals, beaches, Mont Saint Clair lookout and Espace Brassens.
  • 🏠 Where to stay: Charming attic studio

Let’s get back on the road through the Parc de l’Estagnol to admire even more of the riches of the Occitan region. Our new destination is right on the water, and it’s also the third-largest city in the Hérault department!

The « Venice of Languedoc », Sète, is full of surprises to make your stay as pleasant as possible. We encourage you to take a tour of the city center, which is steeped in history. Indeed, the town dates back to 1666, the year King Louis XIV decided to open a maritime outlet for the Canal du Midi. Discover the harbor atmosphere and stroll through the canals with your partner. And if you love fish and seafood, stop off at one of the port’s restaurants!

Sète’s other assets include beaches for swimming and sunbathing, and a marvellous belvedere with a breathtaking view over the city. Indeed, the Mont Saint Clair belvedere is a must-see in Sète, overlooking the sea, the Etang de Thau and the canals.

Finally, treat yourself to a little trip out to sea by renting a boat or taking advantage of the many excursions on offer. This is your chance to get off the road for a while, enjoy a boat trip and admire the coast while breathing in the fresh midday air. At sunset, once you’re on dry land, take a short stroll to the Môle Saint-Louis: the jetty and its fard that close off the marina.

To take the step further :

  • If you love French chanson and its classics: discover the Espace Georges Brassens, a museum dedicated to the singer-songwriter.

From Sète to Carcassonne

De Sète à Carcassonne

Photo credit: Shutterstock – Alexey Fedorenko

  • 🗺️ Itinerary: from Sète to Carcassonne
  • 🚗 Route: 136 kilometers – 1h30
  • 📷 Places to visit: the fortified town and its monuments, the Cérès Franco museum, the Cabrespine chasm, the Limousis cave, and the Cavayère lake.
  • 🏠 Where to stay: Loft near the city center

Carcassonne is an emblem of the region! That’s why this is a major stop on your Occitanie road-trip. Located inland, Carcassonne is a fortified city that played an important role in French history. Indeed, it helped defend the border between France and Aragon until the 17th century. The city’s ramparts are among the largest in Europe, so it’s the first place you should visit. On this journey back in time, you’ll have the chance to discover the medieval atmosphere and plunge into a world of towers, cannons and knights.

Discover the various monuments that make up this medieval city, such as the Château Comtal, which dates back to Gallo-Roman times. Also worth a visit is the Basilica of Saint-Nazaire, the « Jewel of the City ».

Once back down to the 21st century, you can enjoy the « lower town » and its pretty alleyways. You’ll have the chance to visit several museums, including the Cérès Franco, an amazing art museum dedicated to the Brazilian artist. And if all your sightseeing has whetted your appetite, now’s the time to try the local specialty: the famous cassoulet!

Finally, if you want to explore the area around Carcassonne and enjoy a thrilling experience, we recommend a trip to the 250-meter-deep Cabrespine chasm. This popular spot for both amateur and experienced cavers is just 25 kilometers from the city center. Or take a trip to the Limousis cave, with its seven chambers and sumptuous water mirror. It’s a unique experience and well worth the detour! The Occitanie region abounds in impressive caves and caverns of all kinds.

And on hot summer days, there’s nothing better than taking a dip in Lac de la Cavayère, just a few minutes from Carcassonne. Here, you can enjoy a swim, but also go hiking!

To take the step further :

  • The truffle house for lovers of good things;
  • The charming little art village of Montolieu near Carcassonne.

From Carcassonne to Collioure, via Perpignan

Road Trip Occitanie : De Carcassonne à Collioure, en passant par Perpignan

Photo credit: Shutterstock – Iakov Filimonov

  • 🗺️ Itinerary: from Carcassonne to Collioure via Perpignan
  • 🚗 Route: 145 kilometers – 1h45
  • 📷 Places to visit: Narbonnaise regional nature park, ancient fortified citadel, Notre-Dame-des-Anges church…
  • 🏠 Where to stay: City-center apartment with lovely flower-filled terrace

We’re on the last leg of our Occitanie road-trip! It’s also the longest and the one that will take you through the most varied landscapes. In fact, you’ll be crossing part of the Narbonnaise regional nature park.

Our first stop is Perpignan, the capital of the Roussillon region, a charming Catalan-influenced city. Although the town hasn’t always had a good reputation, it’s now enjoying a revival of interest – and rightly so! To get an idea, take a stroll through the town center to discover the old fortified citadel dating back to the 14th century. The star-shaped citadel, built in the Vauban style, surrounded the Palace of the Kings of Majorca. The Palace of the Kings is also a must-see during your stay in Perpi’.

In keeping with the theme of fortifications, visit the Castillet, the city’s ancient gateway, also dating from the 14th century. And if your stopover in Perpignan is long enough, don’t miss the Loge de mer, an unusual Gothic building in the heart of the city.

Take the wheel again to reach the final destination of your Occitanie trip: Collioure. There, you’ll find the peace and quiet to round off your road trip in style. And above all, you’ll be able to awaken your taste buds even more with the best the Occitanie region has to offer. Enjoy a glass of local AOC wine on the terrace (or a delicious fresh fruit juice) and accompany your beverage with some delicious anchovies.

But we’re not just here to eat, we’re also here to discover this town of 1001 secrets. Because everything in Collioure is discreet, and nothing is ostentatious. First, visit the 17th-century church of Notre-Dame-des-Anges. Inside, you can admire masterpieces of the Baroque style. A little further on, on the jetty, you’ll be lucky enough to spot a charming little chapel with a tragic history: Saint-Vincent, Collioure’s patron saint, is said to have been tortured in 303 on the islet where the chapel now stands. Apart from this story, the jetty is particularly beautiful and the place inspires a certain serenity.

If you’ve still got energy to spare after your trip to Occitanie, don’t miss Fort Saint-Elme, located high up on the hill. From the château, you can also access a mill hidden in a field of olive trees. Believe us: the walk to this ancient building is well worth it!

Finally, after a long day of discovery, you’ll have had your fill of the city. It’s time to take a stroll through the small, colorful streets, then take a stroll for two along the old port. Take time to smell the sea and enjoy a magnificent sunset.

To take the step further :

  • The royal castle of Collioure to plunge back into the Middle Ages;
  • Forts Miradou, Rond and Carré;
  • The coastal path for a bucolic walk

Our road-trip comes to an end here, and we hope you enjoy every step of the way. With its Roman heritage, wild nature and unspoilt coastline, the region is ideal for a sunny trip. Share your best Occitanie experiences with us in the comments!