The Languedoc region is not Paris, just as the Carolina Lowcountry is not Manhattan. For those of us who'd spent time in the capital and thought we knew France, Languedoc was a revelation. The area is actually named for its difference from the Parisians. In the early Middle Ages, when the Romance languages were first differentiating themselves from Latin, the French language dominated northern France, while Occitan stretched through the south from the Alps to the Pyrenees. The northern French word for "yes" was oïl (now oui); in Occitan, the word is oc. And given that langue means "language," langue d'oïl referred to the language spoken in the north, while langue d'oc — Languedoc — described the language spoken in the south. Beginning with the Fourth Crusade, around 1200, the north-south struggle for political and cultural dominance of the region was full of the horrors humankind has been perfecting for all of its history, and since then, generations of French policy have aimed to eradicate the Occitan language altogether. But still it has persisted, and since the 1970s, there's been a popular movement to bring the language back into common use. It's comparable to the Catalan and Galician revivals in Spain, or the Gaelic revivals in Ireland and Scotland. Throughout Languedoc today, you'll find street signs written in Occitan as well as French. More to the point, during our entire stay, we never once met a person who fit the stereotype of the surly Parisian waiter.