In the Middle Ages this area was known as the Pays De Cocagne. They cultivated woad (called 'Pastel' in French) which was the main blue dye used in those days. The area grew so prosperous that the 'Land of Cockayne' became a legend of luxury. Since then virtually nothing has happened so a lot of the towns and villages are very ancient in style. People just live in these twisty houses and crooked squares. it's quite remarkable and unspoiled.
The other interesting things about the area is that it was the site of a terrible series of massacres in the 13th Century by which the Christian Church wiped out the Cathar religion. More thoughts on that later.