TOURISM : the essentials (Aude and Pyrénées Occidentales)
Our region “Languedoc Pays Cathare” is full of exciting places to visit, some listed as UNESCO World Heritage Sites.
We list below some key places, at most one hour from our gites.
At the end of the page, visits dedicated to children.
25 minutes away, the medieval city of Carcassonne (listed as a UNESCO World Heritage Site), 3 kilometers of ramparts, 52 towers, a castle, a basilica.
Entertainment: music festival in July, fireworks of July 14, tournaments of chivalry, international festival of political film in January.
The historic city of Carcassonne is an excellent example of a medieval fortified town; its massive ramparts were built on walls dating back to late antiquity. It is of particular importance because of the restoration work carried out there in the second half of the 19th century by Viollet-le-Duc.
On July 14, its exceptional fireworks attract thousands of visitors.
Each summer, the Carcassonne Festival is one of the major cultural events of south of France and is now one of the biggest festivals in France with more than 100 shows on offer (opera, dance, theatre, circus, classical music, French and international variety, music current) of which more than half are free.
Finally, around Carcassonne, for young and old, outdoor activities:
- 8 hole golf course
- Cavayère lake (swimming, water park, pedal boat, water ski)
- acrobatic forest trail
- australian park
Visit the Tourist Office.
15 minutes away, medieval village of Lagrasse, classified “One of the most beautiful villages in France”:
- market, Saturday morning
- abbey (in service)
- swimming in the river Orbieu
Lagrasse is perfectly preserved and nestled in the Orbieu valley.
You can stroll through its alleys, around the 14th century covered market, visit the abbey, the church and the Heritage House, on sunny days bathe in the Orbieu, finally rest on a café terrace along the Promenade .
You can complete the visit of the village with a walk on the heights of Lagrasse, even up to the small chapel of Notre-Dame du Carla, from where the views over the valley are magical.
Visit the Tourist Office.
10 minutes away, the Contemporary Art Center of Philippe Aïni, located in a former wine cooperative. Philippe Aïni is a painter, sculptor, designer of dresses, collected all over the world.
His art will not leave you unconcerned!
Philippe Aïni, painter, sculptor, creator of dresses, collected all over the world, lives in Serviès-en-Val, where he first set up his studio and exhibited contemporary artists in an old forge .
In 2016, he bought and renovated the old wine cooperative in the village in order to give a new dimension to his project (the Coop’Art). He welcomes and exhibits artists, organizes events and produces his works in this magical place, steeped in history, to which he has given new life.
Spi K Tri
20 minutes away, a monumental Street Art Center.
SPI K TRI, painter sculptor designer, helped by graffiti artist AZBA, created the Street Art Universe in Ferrals-les-Corbières in a former cooperative cellar: 14,000 m2 of exhibition space, more than 3,500 pieces of art.
Immersion in a surreal and extraordinary multiverse, mixing the art of recycling and street art. Allow 2 to 3 hours.
35 minutes away, magnificent cistercian abbey and its gardens.
To be discovered during a visit, a concert, an exhibition.
Walks around the abbey.
Founded at the end of the 11th century by Benedictine monks, Fontfroide joined the Cistercian order in 1145. It quickly became one of the most important Cistercian abbeys in Christianity, a bastion of Catholic orthodoxy facing the so-called ‘Cathar’ country.
Its diverse and varied architectural ensemble has been magnificently preserved.
Open to visitors every day of the year, you can discover its 12th century cloister and church, its chapter house, its dormitory and its refectory, but also the 18th century facilities or, in summer, its rose garden and its terraced gardens.
Private since 1908, the abbey hosts many cultural events throughout the year (music festival in July).
Walks are recommended for people wishing to complete the visit of the abbey by visiting its immediate surroundings. In 50 minutes, “La Croix de Fontfroide” or in 45 minutes “Le Tour du Piton de la Croix” give an overview of the beauty of the massif, with its infinite variety of Mediterranean flora and fauna.
Canal du Midi
Several ports allow you to walk, cycle or navigate on the Canal du Midi: Trèbes, Marseillette, la Redorte, le Somail, la Robine, Carcassonne.
Listed a Grand Site de France, since 1996, the Canal du Midi has also been recognised as World Heritage by Unesco, which described it as “one of the most extraordinary examples of civil engineering of the modern age which paved the way to the industrial revolution”. The Canal du Midi is interesting in several ways:
– to walk or bike in the shade of the plane trees
– to explore it by boat: cruise or houseboat rental for the day
– to discover some of the 350 structures necessary for its construction over its 240 kilometres: locks, canal bridge, supply channels, tunnels
The Canal du Midi crosses the Aude department from west to east, from the Lauragais plains to the Mediterranean coast, passing through Castelnaudary, Carcassonne and Narbonne.
Powered by a very sophisticated system, it presents the oldest inventions in terms of hydraulic control and works of art: locks, bridges, aqueducts, spillways, some of which have not been modified since their origin.
It constitutes not only a real technical achievement but also a work of art, given that the canal’s creators were able to incorporate the structure into the very varied landscapes through which it runs.
45 minutes away, Narbonne and its historic center, then towards the Mediterranean Sea, the Clape massif and the beaches.
- visit of the center, the cathedral, cloister, basilica and town hall square
- stroll along the Robine and in the pedestrian area
- “les Halles” covered market (remarkable Baltard-style pavilion) with its 80 shops
Narbonne’s 2500 years of history describe better than any guide ever could why walking around the streets is a voyage back through time. The polished stones of the Via Domitia are the first evidence you’ll come across.
Antiquity, Middle-ages, Renaissance, The Golden age of wine making of the end of the 19th century, the rich and varied past of Narbonne has left us a magnificent heritage which our classified monuments and museums will help you to discover.
– walk in the historical centre, visit the cathedral and its cloister, the basilic, the hotel de ville square, stroll along the Robine canal
– The Halles’ market is the most famous market in the Languedoc region because of the large variety and the high quality of the products sold by its 80 merchants. The remarkable pavilion, in which it takes place, was erected in the Baltard style dates back to the beginning of the 20th century.
Its surroundings are very attractive : ponds and miles of beaches, the Massif of the Clape and the Regional Natural Park of Narbonne are preserved natural areas, suitable for walking, riding or cycling.
The “Narbonnaise en Méditerranée” offers sandy beaches, recent sea resorts for family such as Port-Leucate and Port-Gruissan, and more traditional resorts such as Port-la-Nouvelle, Narbonne-Plage and Saint Pierre la Mer, close to ponds and natural areas with protected flora and fauna.
Peyrepertuse and Quéribus castles
One hour away, the most famous castles or “citadels of vertigo”.
After the two ascents, the village of Cucugnan with its famous mill provides a nice stopover.
On the road, do not miss the impressive gorges of Galamus.
Gigantic Cabrespine chasm
45 minutes away, the very beautiful giant abyss of Cabrespine and the cave of Limousis. Extend your excursion by:
- Caunes-Minervois, charming medieval village with its abbey
- the red marble quarries (used at Versailles, the Louvre, the Paris Opera)
Wonderful little harbour near the Spanish border.
The Cerbère Banyuls marine path, aquatic snorkeling hike will allow you to discover the local marine fauna.