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787km (489 miles) SW of Paris; 61km (38 miles) E of Carcassonne; 93km (58 miles) S of Montpellier

In 118 B.C., Narbonne was the first town outside Italy to be colonized by the Romans. At that time, it was an important port and in the 12th and 13th century had a prestigious Jewish university. In the 14th century the river silted up and Narbonne became a backwater while the surrounding countryside transformed into prime vine-growing territory. 

Around 50,500 Narbonnais live in this sleepy backwater, and while some vineyards have been torn up for holiday homes, others are raising the profile of their estates. You can visit vineyards in the surrounding area (the tourist office will advise you). If you want to go to the beach, head to the nearby village of Gruisson and its adjoining beach, Gruisson-Plage, or to the suburb of St-Pierre la Mer and its adjoining beach, Narbonne-Plage. Both are 15km (9.25 miles) south of Narbonne. Buses from the town are frequent, each marked with its destination.