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Erau  (Occitan)
Department of France
Crique de l'Anau, Sète, Hérault 01.jpg
134px 134px
From top down, left to right: Mediterranean coast, Place de la Comédie in Montpellier, Béziers and Liausson's view of Salagou Lake
Flag of Hérault
Coat of arms of Hérault
Coat of arms
Location of Hérault in France
Location of Hérault in France
Country France
Region Occitanie
Prefecture Montpellier
Subprefectures Béziers
 • President of the Departmental Council Kléber Mesquida[1] (PS)
 • Total 6,224 km2 (2,403 sq mi)
Population (Jan. 2018)[2]
 • Total Script error: The function "labelOf" does not exist. (property)
 • Rank 18th
Demonym(s) Héraultais
Time zone CET (UTC+1)
 • Summer (DST) CEST (UTC+2)
Department number 34
Arrondissements 3
Constituency 9
Cantons 25
Intercommunality 16
Communes 342
^1 French Land Register data, which exclude estuaries, and lakes, ponds, and glaciers larger than 1 km2

Hérault (French pronunciation: ​[eʁo];[3] Occitan: Erau, [eˈɾaw]) is a department of the region of Occitania, Southern France. Named after the Hérault River, its prefecture is Montpellier. It had a population of 1,175,623 in 2019.[4]


Hérault is one of the original 83 departments created during the French Revolution on 4 March 1790. It was created from part of the former province of Languedoc.

At the beginning of the 20th century, viticulture in the wine-growing region was devastated by a slump in sales combined with disease affecting the vines. Thousands of small scale producers revolted. This revolt was suppressed very harshly by the government of Georges Clemenceau.

The catastrophic frost of the winter of 1956 damaged the olive trees, and the olive-growing regions did not recover until the late 1980s. Many of the olive-industry co-ops closed.

During the second half of the twentieth century the Montpellier basin saw some of the most rapid population growth in France.[5]


Hérault is part of the region of Occitanie and is surrounded by the departments of Aude, Tarn, Aveyron, Gard, and the Mediterranean (Gulf of Lion) on the south. The department is geographically very diverse, with beaches in the south, the Cévennes mountains in the north, and agricultural land inbetween. The territory of Hérault is often described as an open amphitheater facing the sea. The geography of Hérault is marked by the diversity of its geology and its landscapes. These range from the southern foothills of the Massif Central, to the Mediterranean Sea, through the areas of garrigue and the low plain of Languedoc wine. Hérault has a Mediterranean climate.

The minimum altitude is at sea level and the highest point of the department is at an altitude of 1181m in one of the peaks of the Espinouse. The average altitude is about 227m.

The department of Hérault is crossed by several rivers that originate in the southern foothills of the Massif Central and empty into the Mediterranean Sea, flowing more-or-less from north to south over a relatively short distance from high altitude. The main rivers flowing from east to west are the Vidourle, which marks the limit with the Gard department; the Lesz, which flows through Montpellier; the Hérault, which gave its name to the department, and the Orb, which flows through Béziers. To the west, the Aude, a 224 km-long river flowing from the Pyrenees, has a course oriented west-east and marks the boundary betwee Hérault and the neighbouring department of Aude. These rivers as well as their tributaries take their character from the region's 'cévénol' climate, with sudden variations of flow causing sudden floods. Lagoons are found along the coast of Herault, the largest of which is the Étang de Thau, with an area of about 7,500 hectares.

The hinterland of the lowlands of Bas-Languedoc is gradually hilly. It is the territory of the vineyard, olive groves, orchards and scrubland. Olive growing and viticulture symbolize an important part of the Mediterranean heritage and lifestyle.

The area of Hérault near the town of Lodève is the geographical antipode point of Chatham Island off the east coast of New Zealand.

Principal towns

The most populous commune is Montpellier, the prefecture. The least populated municipality is Romiguières with 21 inhabitants in 2019. As of 2019, there are 7 communes with more than 20,000 inhabitants:[4]

Commune Population (2019)
Montpellier 295,542
Béziers 78,308
Sète 43,858
Agde 29,600
Lunel 26,385
Frontignan 23,028
Castelnau-le-Lez 22,534


The vast majority of the department can be characterized as a Mediterranean climate. However, the mountainous areas of the northwest have an oceanic influence. Some sectors of northern Herault have a temperate continental influence.

The average temperature of the summer months is close to the maximum French average. Nevertheless, the sea protects the coastal areas from the extremes of heat waves in summer, but also frosts in winter. They range from about 27 degrees Celsius on the seashore to 32 degrees Celsius inland. Mean minimum temperatures also vary, ranging from about 19 degrees Celsius on the coast to 15 degrees Celsius in the interior.


The inhabitants of the department are called Héraultais. Population development since 1791:

Historical population
Year Pop. ±% p.a.
1791 290,126 —    
1801 275,449 −0.52%
1806 299,882 +1.71%
1821 324,126 +0.52%
1831 346,207 +0.66%
1841 367,343 +0.59%
1851 389,286 +0.58%
1861 409,391 +0.50%
1872 429,878 +0.44%
1881 441,527 +0.30%
1891 461,012 +0.43%
1901 489,421 +0.60%
1911 480,484 −0.18%
1921 488,215 +0.16%
Year Pop. ±% p.a.
1931 514,819 +0.53%
1936 502,043 −0.50%
1946 461,100 −0.85%
1954 471,429 +0.28%
1962 516,658 +1.15%
1968 591,397 +2.28%
1975 648,202 +1.32%
1982 706,499 +1.24%
1990 794,603 +1.48%
1999 896,441 +1.35%
2006 1,001,041 +1.59%
2011 1,062,036 +1.19%
2016 1,132,481 +1.29%



The historical language is Occitan.

Totem animals and local festivals

Foal of Pézenas
  • The totemic animals of Herault are typical. During cultural events or local votive festivals, many towns or villages parade a totemic animal representing their municipality through the streets, often accompanied by the sound of traditional musical instruments, such as the Languedoc oboe or fife. The most famous is the Foal of Pézenas, which UNESCO proclaimed as part of the Intangible cultural heritage, being an example of the Processional giants and dragons in Belgium and France.
  • Béziers festivals : Fèsta d'Oc, Béziers's Feria
  • Montpellier festivals : I Love Techno Europe, Mediterranean Film Festival, Comédie du Livre, Montpellier Dance Festival, International Festival of Extreme Sports (FISE)


The Canal du Midi has been designated as a World Heritage Site by UNESCO.



185,048 hectares (nearly 30%) of land in Hérault is used for agriculture. Viticulture is the most important, with 85,525 hectares. The cultivation of cereals uses 20,095 hectares, grazing 7,090 hectares, 4,991 hectares are left fallow, 3,788 hectares are devoted to the cultivation of vegetables, and 3,400 hectares for orchards (olives, chestnuts, walnuts, plums, apples).


The vineyards of Hérault are very old, dating from before the founding of Gallia Narbonensis. Hérault is today the second French wine department, after the Gironde, representing 14% of the total area of the department. The department has a favorable climate, excellent exposure, a wide variety of soils and many varieties of grape: all these assets result in generous, sometimes robust, wines with a wide aromatic palette


In Hérault, the cultivation of shellfish produces 8,300 tons of oysters (10% of the national production) and 5,900 tons of mussels a year. The Étang de Thau is a centre for growing mussels and oysters in the Mediterranean. At Bouzigues, oysters are cultivated on permanently-immersed, raised breeding.


Composition of the departmental council

The President of the Departmental Council is Kléber Mesquida of the Socialist Party.

Party Representative
Majority (36 representatives)
FG 2
PS 16
DVG 15
Opposition (14 representatives)
LR 4
FN 6
President of the General Council
Kléber Mesquida (PS)

Current National Assembly Representatives

Constituency Member[8] Party
Hérault's 1st constituency Patricia Mirallès La République En Marche!
Hérault's 2nd constituency Muriel Ressiguier La France Insoumise
Hérault's 3rd constituency Coralie Dubost La République En Marche!
Hérault's 4th constituency Jean-François Eliaou La République En Marche!
Hérault's 5th constituency Philippe Huppé La République En Marche!
Hérault's 6th constituency Emmanuelle Ménard National Rally
Hérault's 7th constituency Christophe Euzet La République En Marche!
Hérault's 8th constituency Nicolas Démoulin La République En Marche!
Hérault's 9th constituency Patrick Vignal La République En Marche!

List of successive presidents

Election Member Party
1961 Jean Bène SFIO
1973 PS
1979 Gérard Saumade PS
1998 André Vézinhet PS
2015 Kléber Mesquida PS



Club League
Barracudas de Montpellier D1


Club League
EuroCup Women
EuroLeague Women

Beach soccer

Club League
Grande Motte Pyramide Beach Soccer French Beach Football Championship
Montpellier Hérault Beach Soccer French Beach Football Championship


Club League
AS Béziers Ligue 2
Montpellier HSC Ligue 1
Montpellier HSC (Women) Division 1 Féminine
FC Sète 34 N2


Club League
Montpellier Handball Division 1
EHF Champions League


Club League
Béziers Volley (Women) Ligue AF
Arago de Sète Ligue AM
Montpellier Volley Université Club Ligue AM


Club League
Rugby olympique agathois Fédérale 1
AS Béziers Hérault Pro D2
Montpellier Hérault Rugby Top 14
European Rugby Champions Cup
Montpellier Hérault Rugby (Women) Top 8

Water polo

Club League
Montpellier Water-Polo Pro A

Specific sports

There are several sports specific to Hérault: tamburello (85% of players are French) and water jousting.


Popular tourist attractions

Part of Cap d'Agde is a major nudist resort.

Cruising along the Canal du Midi and walking or cycling along the tow paths is a popular holiday option.

See also


  1. "Répertoire national des élus: les conseillers départementaux". data.gouv.fr, Plateforme ouverte des données publiques françaises (in français). 4 May 2022.<templatestyles src="Module:Citation/CS1/styles.css"></templatestyles>
  2. "Téléchargement du fichier d'ensemble des populations légales en 2018". Script error: The function "labelOf" does not exist. (property). 28 December 2020.<templatestyles src="Module:Citation/CS1/styles.css"></templatestyles>
  3. "Hérault - Deutsch-Übersetzung - Langenscheidt Französisch-Deutsch Wörterbuch" (in Deutsch and français). Langenscheidt. Retrieved 22 October 2018.<templatestyles src="Module:Citation/CS1/styles.css"></templatestyles>
  4. 4.0 4.1 Populations légales 2019: 34 Hérault, INSEE
  5. Hoad, Phil (2017-03-13). "Montpellier in the spotlight: development mania in France's fastest-growing city". The Guardian. ISSN 0261-3077. Retrieved 2018-12-29.<templatestyles src="Module:Citation/CS1/styles.css"></templatestyles>
  6. "Historique de l'Hérault". Le SPLAF.<templatestyles src="Module:Citation/CS1/styles.css"></templatestyles>
  7. "Évolution et structure de la population en 2016". INSEE.<templatestyles src="Module:Citation/CS1/styles.css"></templatestyles>
  8. Nationale, Assemblée. "Assemblée nationale ~ Les députés, le vote de la loi, le Parlement français". Assemblée nationale.<templatestyles src="Module:Citation/CS1/styles.css"></templatestyles>

External links