Gard department, Languedoc
The Gard dept. of Languedoc has a distinctly 'Provençal' feel to it - thanks to its sharing a border with both Provence and the famous 'Camargue' march region, famed for flamingoes, wild horses and bulls.
That said, the Gard does have distinctly Languedoc qualities - such as the high number of historical sites (Languedoc's history is far more interesting than Provence's), the Bull fights at Nimes, and its dramatic landscapes. In fact, it's in the Gard that the move away from the Mediterranean into a more continental, mountainous landscape begins. The weather cools the higher you climb, and the coarse river-stone villages so typical of Languedoc's Mediterranean departments (Herault, Aude and Pyrenees-Orientales) give way to tidy villages of cut-stone houses (limestone and granite).
The vines peter out, and the undulating hills of Herault become jagged and rocky in the Gard, sliced through by Languedoc's dramatic river gorges. It all starts to feel less hot and exotic and a little more like you're in the centre of France. The food improves too, with the slightly mundane Mediterranean fare being replaced with richer food more typical of the rest of the country.
The Gard department of Languedoc was important in Roman times, and Nimes' Maison Carree roman temple and Les Arenes roman amphitheatre are two of the best examples of roman architecture left in the world - and the Pont du Gard the largest remaining Roman aqueduct. Aigues-Mortes was built in the 13th Century by Louis IX as a new port for France, until rising silt rendered it an inland ghost-town.
Today, the Gard is attempting to modernise, like the rest of Languedoc, lead by its capital Nimes. Once a rather ugly city, it has commissioned some of the world's leading architects (such as Norman Foster) to build extravagant modern buildings.
The Gard town of Uzes is possibly Languedoc Roussillon's most beautiful - somehow more sophisticated and grand than anything that the departments lower down have to offer (even beating Pezenas), and Sommieres is also very beautiful and lively.
You really can't go too wrong living in the Gard, Languedoc. Skiing in the Cevennes is quite accessible, and Nimes and Avignon (in Provence) are never far. And even though the coast here is tiny, the Gard does host Languedoc's longest and possibly greatest beach, Espiguette.