Arrive in Montpellier, a one-hour flight from Paris, to pick up the car, then head 40 minutes east to Aigues Mortes, a walled Medieval village on the edge of the Camargue, a vast river delta and nature preserve along the Mediterranean coast. Here, you can take a guided horseback trip across the marshland on one of the region’s famous white horses, tour a working salin, where sea salt is harvested, and load up on local delicacies like airy, sugar-encrusted fougasse (flatbread), wild bull meat, and nutty red rice.
This is only one of the semi-hidden pleasures of Languedoc-Roussillon, the southeastern coastal region of France, wedged between Spain and Provence. Compared to its more famous (and crowded) neighbors, the region is wild and winding, with gorgeous scenery, laid-back locals, and top-notch food and wine. It’s also small and (back roads aside) easy to navigate, making it the perfect place to explore by car. The best part? You can take in Mediterranean beaches and the craggy Pyrenees mountains, sleepy villages and discotheque-fueled cities over the course of about four days. Here’s how—and where to eat and drink on the road.