With its wealth of historic towns, incredible natural beauty and delectable dining, this region of France is a real delight, and rich with historic, scenic and cultural sites. It is also something of a hidden gem, being relatively undisturbed by mass tourism. It remains to be seen how much longer this will endure, but for now, it is perhaps the last bastion of solitude and peace in the South of France.
Most of Cathar Country lies under the influence of the Mediterranean climate, but it is nonetheless a very diverse landscape. Extending east to the Mediterranean are great plains of vines and orchards. To the south rears the mighty barrier of the Pyrenees, dividing France and Spain; west lies Toulouse and the Atlantic, and northwards we have the rugged and beautiful Natural Park of Haut-Languedoc.
Cathar Country offers endless natural resources and opportunities for adventure and excitement. Hiking, horse riding, cycling, mountain-biking, golfing, kayaking, fishing, sightseeing, wine tasting, dining… there’s something for every taste!
Domaine de Palatz is centrally located in the Aude Department, Occitania, and there are many nearby areas of historic (even prehistoric) interest, easily reached by car. From neolithic dolmens and menhirs (within walking distance of our property), to Greco-Roman ruins and the magnificent medieval villages, castles and abbeys that are scattered across the countryside, Cathar Country offers endless natural resources and opportunities for adventure and excitement. Hiking, horse riding, cycling, mountain-biking, golfing, kayaking, fishing, sightseeing, wine tasting, dining… there’s something for every taste! Take a look at our top recommendations on things to do.
We have a range of attractions within 20 minutes of Domaine de Palatz: Close by is the famous Cathar fortress, Chateaux de Lastours. Carcassonne, the largest walled city in Europe, is an unmissable sight and also very close. Despite its fairy tale appearance, Carcassonne has all the conveniences of a modern city with shops of every kind, as well as supermarkets, cinemas, an abundance of fine restaurants and a golf course. And of course you must let yourself be tempted by the pleasures of the palate: the great wines and gastronomy of the Aude, in the heart of the largest, oldest vineyards in France.
Lovers of French markets are also spoiled for choice, whilst those who enjoy the odd glass of wine can take advantage of the ‘degustation’ offered by wine-makers throughout Cathar Country. The list of appellations includes: Corbieres, Minervois, Fitou, Malapere, and Fronton, plus the local ‘bubbly’ from Limoux. This little town, known for its Blanquette – the original Champagne – is about 30 minutes away and well worth a visit. Just past Limoux is the spa town of Alet les Bains and then we have Rennes Le Chateau, famed for its mysterious treasure and possible connection to the Holy Grail. Montsegur, the last bastion of the Knights Templar, is within easy reach, as is the spectacular Gorge de Galaias.
Explore Cathar Country
You can also wander along the shady banks of the Canal du Midi, or perhaps head further afield with day trips to Albi, Nimes, Montpellier, Toulouse, Perpignan, or the beaches of the Mediterranean, which are less than an hour away by car. We have no less than six UNESCO world heritage sites in the region, all of them within two hours drive. Cathar Country is also famous for les Chateaux du Pays Cathare, otherwise known as the Cathar Castles, a fantastic destination in their own right. Simply, this area is resplendent with castles, churches, temples, ruins and other monuments that date back through every period of civilized history and extend far beyond that into the dim mists of pre-history – and they are all on our doorstep!
We have no less than six UNESCO world heritage sites in the region, all of them within two hours drive.
There are several lakes within an hour of Carcassonne, which offer swimming, sunbathing and water sports. Canoeing and rafting are also available on the lakes and rivers in the mountains of the Haut Languedoc. Walkers of all levels are spoiled for choice with the enormous variety of hiking terrain both on the plains and in the mountains. The sunny days and cooler temperatures in Spring and Autumn are ideal for walking, cycling and mountain hiking.
This is a brief introduction to Cathar Country, and hopefully gives you an idea of the many sites and activities this region has to offer. One thing we know for sure: it makes for an awesome holiday! There’s more to learn though: Take a look at our blog and also our Facebook page for more specifics on things to do and places to see!