History and Culture


Museum for Prehistory

Avenue Léon-Jean Grégory
66720 Tautavel
+33 (0) 4 68 29 07 76

Dinosaur Museum

11260 Espéraza
Haute Vallée de l'Aude
+33 (0)4 68 74 02 08

The Languedoc-Roussillon is an immensely historic region. The remnants of the past can be encountered everywhere, particularly here in the south. The oldest archaeological remains of Europe date back more than 400 000 years into the past. They were found in Tautavel, a small village in the Corbière Mountains. Today, there is a very interesting interactive museum for Prehistory at Tautavel, which displays the ancient relics (including the famous 'homme de Tautavel'). Fascinating exhibits manage to bring these incredibly distant times a little closer. Also, cave-paintings found at various caves of the region can still be admired today. They too bear witness to these earliest beginnings of human activity.

An equally fascinating excursion into prehistoric times is offered by the Dinosaur museum at Esperaza (Aude) - these 'original inhabitants of the earth', too, have left their traces for posterity.

The Mediterranean Basin has long been considered the cradle of western civilization. The region has been settled since earliest times and has a long history of vibrant trade with other parts of Europe and North Africa. The Mediterranean coast and in particular the eastern Pyrenees have always been regarded as the crossroad of Europe. It is a transitional region of continual cultural diffusion. Regular encounters between peoples and cultures, though not always peaceful, have nevertheless always deeply influenced both sides. The effects are still tangible today: the harbour cities, founded by the Greeks and Romans a long time ago, the Romanesque Abbeys or the numerous Moorish buildings found in many places, still convey a sense of the often turbulent history of this region.

The Cathar castles, once bastions of a Gnostic Christian sect that resisted the crusades of the Roman Catholic Church, write their own chapter of history, the consequences of which far transcend the limits of mere regional significance. In honour of their memory this area is also often referred to as 'Pays Cathar'. Most of these castle ruins are aligned in a straight line between Perpignan and Montsegur, within the closest surroundings of Relais de Laval.



All about Cathars
Contemporary Culture

In the Roussillon culture does not just belong to the past. Especially during the summer months a colourful and vibrant cultural life awakens throughout the region. Summer festivals with theatre, dance and music are staged in practically all the small towns and even the usually tranquil villages show themselves in all their splendour for their village fêtes.

In many villages, one might quite unexpectedly stumble upon the studios of artists, sculptors and artisans, who, attracted by the beautiful landscapes and timeless pace of life, have long been drawn to this region.


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