Never heard of Occitanie? That’s forgivable, because as of last year it didn’t even exist. When parliament recently reduced the country’s regions by nearly half, the area formerly called Languedoc-Roussillon joined with Midi-Pyrénées, located in France’s southwest corner next to Spain, to become Occitanie. (The term, which dates to the Middle Ages, refers to a large southern European realm where people spoke a Latin- derived language called Occitan.) Even locals aren’t yet used to the new terminology and often revert to the old names, which can be confusing to visitors. This is a shame, because Occitanie— or whatever you want to call it—is a jewel.
“We consider it the real South of France,” says Jodi Kennedy Gaffey, an American expat who owns and operates the property La Tour du Chateau. The area, she says, is more relaxed, more authentic, and less touristy than, for example, nearby Provence or the Côte d’Azur. It includes miles of Mediterranean beaches, hundreds of vineyards, and charming, postcard-perfect villages. “People want that authentic experience, and something no one else has done. That’s what you find here.”