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Where to spend 2 weeks near Montpellier in July?

My family of 4 (kids ages 5 1/2 and 2) will be in Montpellier France in late July 2015 for a family visit. We thought we'd go early and spend about 2 weeks "near" Montpellier, either in the French and Italian Alps, the Pyrenees, or in the parks (like Cévennes National Park) and towns of Southern France.

We like nature, hiking, and visiting/staying in small towns and villages to experience new places. Except for our time in Montpellier, we don't plan to spend time in cities. We also don't plan to camp or stay in hiking refuges with the kids.

We are open to traveling up to 7 or so hours from Montpellier for the 2 week stay. We want to spend our time in one region, rather than moving around a lot, and only in 3 to 4 lodging changes.

Having never been to the Alps, we're drawn to going there, but wonder if 1) it will be crowded and touristy in July, 2) if going to the Pyrenees will be just as nice and less crowded, and 3) if there are good hikes that a 5 year old can do (the 2 year old will be in a baby carrier).

We don't speak any French now, but since we know other romance languages we plan to pick up some French before our trip, assuming that French will come in handy in small villages and out of the way places. Is this true these days?

Lastly, we don't plan to go to the beach unless there are any natural and uncrowded beaches in the area, which I have not read about thus far in my research of the area.

Thanks for any suggestions about where to go (which region) and specific recommendations of places to visit within those regions!

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