In this department of the Aude, where the marine scents embalm, even more by caressing the wild plants of the Corbières, the change of scenery is permanent. There is such a diversity of landscapes, that each one can at his convenience find there, the reflection of his desire of discovery. From the fine sandy beaches of its coastline to the seaside resorts, such as Leucate, with its thousand-ring port and its kitesurfing enthusiasts, or Gruissan, where lovers of outdoor activities are concentrated, to the Pyrenees, always covered with snow, at the beginning of the summer, the Aude has many facets. Summer bathing is only a parenthesis, in the plurality of activities that blend with the march of time. Visits to the Cathar castles, the City of Carcassonne, the caves of Cabrespine and Limousis, are combined with hikes allowing you to crisscross the vineyards and taste, in the wine cellars, the nectars produced by the terroirs of Minervois, Boutenac, Corbières, or the oldest sparkling wine in the world: the Blanquette de Limoux! Former Roman province, with Narbonne as its capital, the Aude is rich in history and ancestral traditions, which are still found today in its daily life and in its gastronomy, with as a highlight the Cassoulet of Castelnaudary.

The Carcassonne region, from the ramparts to the Canal du Midi

Located in the heart of the Toulouse-Montpellier-Barcelona triangle, the Carcassonne region is at the crossroads of two major traffic routes dating back to ancient times. From the Atlantic to the Mediterranean, from the Cevennes to the Pyrenees, the source of the Aude, this region has at its heartthe city of Carcassonne which flourishes in the plains of the lower valley and invites you to a thousand tours and detours: from the historical tour to the gastronomic or wine tour, through the bucolic tours. The two jewels listed as World Heritage Sites by UNESCO, the medieval city (1997) and the Canal du Midi (1996), make it a must for visitors from all over the world. But the Carcassonne region is also: in the north of the valley, the Black Mountain with the Nore peak and its highest point at 1,211 m, superb forests awaiting mushroom and chestnut collectors in autumn, or hikers in all seasons. The surroundings are also an invitation to discover, such as the castles of Lastours and Saissac, or remarkable geological features such as the Limousis cave or the Cabrespine abyss.

The Narbonne region, a land of treasures and contrasts

In the center of this country, the city of Narbonne is on its way to becoming the economic capital of the South, thanks to its ideal geographical position on the road to Spain, and its constant development. Narbonne is singular by its history and its heritage. First daughter of Rome outside of Italy in the 2nd century B.C., residence of the Visigoth kings and capital of Septimania, taken by the Saracens and recaptured by the Franks in the year 759... Narbonne, for more than twenty centuries, has been in all the battles and known all the glories. Marked by its ancient viscounty, its high walls of the archbishopric, its Saint-Just-Saint-Pasteur cathedral and its famous Fontfroide abbey nestled in the middle of the Corbières... Narbonne is full of treasures. Country of Charles Trenet, Clape with its thousand scents, crossed by the Robine canal, rich of numerous wine domains, seaside resorts with fine sand... make the happiness of the tourists. This land of contrasts, from Gruissan to the Cabanes de Fleury, from Bages to Narbonne, from Port-la-Nouvelle to Leucate, is a privileged vacation spot and a land cherished by its inhabitants!

The Corbières-Minervois region, between nature and heritage

In the Corbières-Minervois region, there are no large cities, the only small town is Lézignan-Corbières, but you will find many villages that are worth a visit. You will discover a subtle harmony between vineyards and garrigues, between villages and bastides, between ponds and valleys, between legends and traditions, between nature and heritage... At the bend of the winding roads are hidden many monuments among which the castles of the Cathar country, real jewels perched on rocky peaks, like Quéribus, Peyrepertuse, Puilaurens... The amateurs of good wine will not be mistaken there, AOC Corbières and AOC Minervois count undoubtedly among the best appellations of the South. Take the time to go and meet the winegrowers, their domains are open to tasting and to the discovery of a terroir. The abbey of Lagrasse is the jewel in the crown, as is the village, classified as one of the most beautiful villages in France.

The Pays lauragais, the Mecca of Catharism

The name "Lauragais" comes from the feudal complex dominated from the 12th century by the lords of Laurac. Bordered to the north by the Montagne Noire, the first foothills of the Massif Central, and to the south by the hills of the Piège, the first foothills of the Pyrenees, the Lauragais region of the Aude is characterized by the gentleness of its landscapes with rare trees and vast expanses of land, whose palette of colors changes with the seasons. This country of hills and valleys is the land of windmills and cereals.

High place of catharism, it is in the Lauragais that at the beginning of the XIIIth century, the future Saint-Dominique chose to come and preach against heresy. It is also here that he founded his order, which is still well represented in this area, notably with the nuns of the monastery of Prouilhe.

This region is also known to have been a great center of the cultivation of woad (Isatis tinctoria), also called "woad", a dye plant cultivated since the 12th century, and which gives a very particular blue color. It is a very simple plant which gives small yellow flowers and which looks like a "weed". Only the leaves were harvested, crushed in the "pastel mills", the juice obtained was fermented until the "hull" was obtained, hence the famous expression "Land of plenty" which alone evokes all the wealth derived from the cultivation of woad and its marketing, which reached its peak in France at the end of the 15th and 16th centuries. The arrival of indigo straight from the Far East and its greater ease of use sounded the death knell for the cultivation of woad in the mid-18th century

Nowadays, the Lauragais has become the cereal granary of the Aude, with its wheat, sunflower and rapeseed production, but also a place for poultry breeding. Its capital is Castelnaudary, famous for its cassoulet, which we advise you to taste, its fat fairs, its marina on the Canal du Midi and the Naurouze threshold which marks the border between the Mediterranean and the Atlantic, materialized by the watershed. A region where it is good to stroll by car, by bike, on foot and even by boat!

The Pays de la Haute Vallée de l'Aude, a sportsman's paradise

It is a sportsman's paradise, because the river Aude, before flowing towards the Mediterranean, will have crossed the High Valley offering to the amateurs of white water sports strong sensations. Kayaking, rafting, or hydrospeed, from Axat to Limoux, the river becomes a playground during the summer season. Here, the valleys are narrower than elsewhere, some villages are perched at the top of the crests (Roquetaillade), and the Cathar castles such as Puilaurens or Puivert use and abuse their dominant position to offer admirable viewpoints. In the heart of this country, Limoux, capital of the festival, which extends its carnival over a period of 3 months, that is to say the longest carnival in the world! Moreover, one can say that the party is in the honor all year long in this small city, which is also capital of the blanquette. Not the one you eat, but the one you drink! Indeed, it is not far from here that a certain Dom Pérignon discovered "la bulle", the one that still today makes family meals and great feasts sparkle

Smart info

When is it open? You can go there all year round, even if the arrival of fine weather is obviously more pleasant

How to get there. By car (A61, A9), by bus, by train (SNCF stations of Carcassonne, Narbonne, Lézignan-Corbières, but also Bram, Leucate/La Franqui or Port la Nouvelle) or by plane (airports of Carcassonne, Toulouse and Montpellier), everything is possible

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