Aude: 6 alternative tourist spots in Cathar Country
- Credit: Philippe Benoist - Images Bleu Sud
Need to unwind, take a rest or just escape? Here’s our selection of places to spend a feel-good or gourmet getaway to soothe you as you sit back and forget the passage of time.
Objective: a hassle-free combination of pleasure and discovery.
Priorities: pampering, relaxation and gourmet delights!
Out with the old ‘must-dos’ that you see in every tourist guide. In with a new type of tours and excursions where you can take it easy between peaceful walks and aperitifs without watching the clock. After all, this is the South, isn’t it?
Of all the tips we could give you for a perfect getaway in Cathar Country, these are the top favourites we would suggest to our friends. Treat yourself!
1. Rennes-le-Château – Estate of Abbot Saunière
World-famous thanks to a priest, Abbot Saunière, who endowed the village with a host of constructions and enigmas. Enigmas that even today inspire authors and researchers from around the world and even get a mention in Dan Brown’s famous novel, The Da Vinci Code. Enter into the legend by visiting the abbot’s estate, the surprising village church, and the village itself, steeped in history.
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2. Terra Vinea in Portel-les-Corbières
Imagine a vast gallery that takes you 80m into the depths of the earth! Dive into the largest underground cellar in the South of France for a journey through the history of wine, in the footsteps of the Romans through a reconstruction of a Gallo-Roman villa, and through the medieval era staged with the reconstitution of a tavern.
3. Bargain-hunting for second-hand books in Montolieu
Rummaging through piles of old books to find that rare gem among thousands of books of every shape, from every era and on even the most unlikely of themes. Second-hand books, ancient books, beautiful books, rare books, new books and books in English, Dutch or German… all of this can be found at the bookshops of Montolieu which, into the bargain, is a charming village.
4. Exploring the village of Lagrasse
There is, of course, the magnificent Benedictine abbey Sainte-Marie of Lagrasse, but that’s not all! The village’s narrow cobblestone streets and paths lined with plane trees invite you to peacefully enjoy a refreshing drink or visit the art and craft studios… enough to fill a whole day without a moment of boredom, but without having to rush either!
5. Carcassonne, for a moment out of time
Overlooking the lower town, the five-star Hôtel de la Cité backs onto the rampart wall, offering a timeless moment right next to the Counts’ Castle and enchanting views over the private gardens. In an atmospheric Neo-Gothic/Art-Deco blend, enjoy a relaxing break at the spa and discover the world’s ancestral beauty traditions. Refinement is on the menu at the Michelin-starred restaurant La Barbacane. A peaceful haven in a magical setting.
6. A gourmet weekend to discover the food and wine of Limoux
Concoct your own weekend programme of gourmet meals and culinary specialities (charcuterie, nougat, chocolate, etc), discovering a host of grape varieties and the wine tourism features of the Limoux region. Don’t miss the ‘Bulles & Lumières’ (bubbles & lights) tour at the Guinot cellars which have been the home of Blanquette de Limoux and Crémant de Limoux for five generations. Not forgetting to visit the Fourn family estate to taste no less than 10 vintage sparkling wines. A chance to learn about the history and production of Limoux wines, how to blend them and how to taste them.
GETTING TO AUDE
In Occitanie in the South of France, the department of Aude is well served by a number of transport links. You can reach us by TGV high-speed train, by plane, or by car on the motorways or other trunk roads… unless you prefer a softer mode of travel. For more information on travelling to Aude visit audetourisme.com/getting-to-aude
Discover more about Aude on audetourisme.com