5 UNESCO World Heritage Sites in Occitanie

Occitanie is an ideal destination for couples who love history and architecture. The Pont du Gard, the Cirque de Gavarnie, the cities of Albi and Carcassonne and the routes of the Camino de Santiago de Compostela are just some of the UNESCO World Heritage Sites the region has to offer.

The Pont du Gard: a feat of Roman architecture

The Pont du Gard is the most visited ancient monument in France and symbolises the Roman architectural genius. Located half an hour's drive from Nîmes, this first-century construction is remarkable both for its size and its unusual architectural style. It's a real privilege to visit it on foot, especially considering that it's the highest Roman bridge-aqueduct in the world. The site has several areas of interest such as a museum, exhibition halls and a cinema showing a documentary with spectacular images. UNESCO declared it a World Heritage Site in 1985.

The Cirque de Gavarnie: living history in the Pyrenees

If there's one destination in Occitanie for intrepid couples, it is the Cirque de Gavarnie, the only French site classified as a World Heritage Site for natural and cultural criteria. It's part of the 'Pyrenees - Mont Perdu (Forgotten Mountain)' territory and is an area of great geological importance with its 423-metre waterfall, one of the highest in Europe. Walking along the Gavarnie stream to the cirque is an amazing experience that demonstrates how the mountain range that separates France from Spain was formed. Its heritage value, protected by the Pyrenees National Park, also lies in the varied richness of its nature and wildlife. It has been a UNESCO World Heritage Site since 1997.

Albi: the pink city

Albi is one of the most romantic cities in Occitanie. Its blushing pink brick buildings, a legacy of Cathar architecture, and its beautiful pedestrianised historic centre make the capital of Tarn a perfect option for couples who want to spend a dream weekend in a French city unlike any other. The splendid Sainte-Cécile cathedral, the Palais de la Berbie and the two bridges spanning the River Tarn make up a picture that remains in the memory of all who visit. Albi has two very interesting museums: the Lapérouse, which pays tribute to the exploits of the famous French navigator Jean-François Galaup de Lapérouse, and the Toulouse-Lautrec Museum in the Palais de la Berbie, which presents the work of this artist. The episcopal city of Albi has been listed as a UNESCO World Heritage Site since 2010.

Carcassonne: a medieval fairytale

Carcassonne is a city in Occitanie that many couples choose for their first romantic getaway. The first image of Carcassonne, emerging like a dream on a hill on the Aude plain, is that of a virtually perfect construction. Its 52 medieval towers, its double enclosure and the Comtal chateau built in the 12th century by the Viscounts of Trencavel are just some of the features of the 'Cité Médiévale' (Medieval City). Carcassonne was rightly declared a World Heritage Site by UNESCO in 1997.

The Santiago de Compostela routes

The routes to Santiago de Compostela played a fundamental role in the human exchanges, architecture and culture of medieval Europe. Today, thousands of people go on a pilgrimage to the tomb of the apostle every year, to recharge their batteries and find themselves. The pilgrimage routes to Santiago de Compostela are divided into four historic routes across France, three of which converge in Occitanie: the routes to Arles, Puy-en-Velay and the Piedmonts.

The heritage of these religious routes includes iconic places of worship such as the abbeys of Saint-Gilles and Sainte-Foy in Conques, the basilica of Saint-Sernin in Toulouse, the fortified cathedral of Saint-Fulcran in Lodève and the church in Gavarnie. The Devil's Bridge in the Hérault Gorge, the Valentré Bridge in Cahors, the Artigues Bridge in Gers and the Saint-Jacques Hospital in Figeac are also part of these Christian routes dating from the ninth century. In 1998, UNESCO included the Pilgrim's Way to Santiago in its list of World Heritage Sites.