Surroundings Coeur de Roses
Cathar country is one of the most beautiful places in France.
The many vineyards, rolling hills with sunflowers, medieval villages, cozy markets, spiritual power places, rugged nature, rivers, the Pyrenees in the background (here you can ski) and the beach about 1 hour away by car. In short, something for everyone. Will you join us on a discovery?
Cities and villages
A visit to Carcassonne should not be missed when visiting the Aude.
This hilltop town is famous for its medieval citadel, La Cité, with numerous watchtowers and double-walled fortifications. The first walls were built in Gallo-Roman times, with major additions made in the 13th and 14th centuries. Château Comtal, a 12th-century castle within the Cité, offers archaeological exhibits and a tour of the inner ramparts. Downtown, in the more modern Carcassonne you’ll find nice shops and restaurants.
Rennes-le-Château is like an eagle’s nest, an isolated village on a rocky spur overlooking the Haute Aude valley. This small village has a worldwide reputation and is a place full of stories and legends about the mystery surrounding Berenger Saunière and the church dedicated to Mary Magdalene. The local museum brings it all to life.
Rennes-les-Bains, also known as the hippie village, is the only spa town in the Aude department dedicated to the treatment of rheumatism, whose waters have been used for their healing properties since ancient times. The village has a small square with 2 catering establishments. The nearby pizzeria is also in demand. Swimming in natural water is possible at several places in the village and attracts locals and tourists alike.
The charming medieval village of Alet-les-Bains, famous for its spring water, is located in the high valley of the Aude. Here you will find beautiful old stone houses and half-timbered houses, such as on the picturesque Place de la République square. Walk past the house of Nostra Damus, visit the ruins of the abbey or settle down in the walled garden of “La Buvette” restaurant for a snack and/or a drink.
Bugarach, both the name of a hamlet with a special church and the name of the nearby mountain, also called mountain of God. This place attracts many new-age people.
Fontaine des Amours is an exceptional swimming spot. It consists of several water basins eroded by the river Sals. These “pools” are connected by small waterfalls. The large basin is deep enough to dive into from the rocks above it. The very special atmosphere of the place, in this lush nature, gives the Fontaine des Amours a rather explicit name. Romantic love? Mystical love? Besides, the stories go that Mary Magdalene gave initiations at this mystical spot after coming to the south of France.
The “magical” forest of Nébias with its green labyrinth invites you for a walk full of wonder. Imagine yourself in a fairy tale.
Visit the cave of Bethlehem, a Cathar initiation site, that captures the imagination. Do you dare stand in the hollow in the wall (shape of a pentagram)? Be surprised by the energy in this cave. This is just a selection from the many interesting sights in the region.
Cathar country has countless castles; each with its own charm. Here is a small selection from the collection.
The Siege of Montségur was a nine-month siege of the Cathar castle of Montségur by French royal troops. After the surrender of the castle in 1244, unrepentant Cathars voluntarily walked into the fire and were burned.
Built on an isolated hill, Arques castle is flanked by four turrets. It is a masterpiece of medieval Gothic architecture.
Peyrepertuse castle sits atop a limestone cliff with grandiose panoramic views.
Be enchanted by this structure where the values of bravery, struggle and resistance still resonate today.
Meet the castle and ramparts of the city of Carcassonne: a key city in the formation of the national territory. A power centre of the counts of Carcassonne and then the famous Trencavel family in the 12th century, it became a royal stronghold after the crusade against the Albigensians (who were accused of complicity with the Cathars).
Can you also enjoy strolling through a local market with the colourful local produce smiling at you, ready to disappear into your shopping basket so you can taste all that goodness later?
Weekly markets can be found on:
*Monday morning in charming Mirepoix;
*Friday morning in Limoux;
*Sunday in Espéraza (also known as the hippy market);
*During high season, there is a lively local market in Limoux on Tuesday evenings;
*Brocante can be found on the first Sunday of the month in Limoux.