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House & Garden

FoixCastelnaudrey is not only a delightful market town in its own right, with many splendid restaurants at all price levels; it claims to be the home of cassoulet. It is also the high point of the Canal du Midi which drops away towards the Atlantic to the West and to the Mediterranean to the East. Quite a few events and fairs are hosted in the town during the year.

 

Carcassonne “La Cité” is one of the main Cathar castles and the second most visited attraction in France after the Eiffel Tower. As a result it can get very busy during peak holiday times so it is advisable to get there early. You can walk around the outer walls of the city, explore the churches & castles within the walls and even take a “train” ride round with a guided tour. There are numerous shops, cafes, restaurants and museums within the walls, something for everyone. There are some pretty spectacular events in Carcassonne, details to be found on their website – Visit www.carcassonne-tourisme.com . Well worth visiting.

 

Foix is a small city with a big personality. Surrounded by mountains and sliced with rivers, this is a true gateway to the Pyrenees. The striking medieval castle (“chateau”) is its most imposing monument, and it can be seen from all directions. Inside, climb the towers for splendid views of the city and mountains. Mirepoix

 

Mirepoix Just a fifteen minute drive south of the farmhouse is Mirepoix, probably one of the most delightful medieval towns in France. With its striking medieval half-timbered houses the town oozes charm. The weekly (Monday) market is a must do visit. The stalls fill the square and the cathedral forecourt selling vegetables, cheeses, sausage, olives, spices, honey and bread and much more besides! Whilst the bustle goes on around you the cafes and small restaurants welcome you to sample the local cuisine (try the cassoulet). There is no pressure to move on, in fact you are positively encouraged to linger and enjoy the experience.

 

Narbonne Plage. Narbonne is the nearest beach to Plaigne at just over an hours drive away. Like many of the Mediterranean beaches Narbone Plage offers fine golden sand. There are cafes/restaurants and shops in the area too. Near to Narbonne is the port of Gruissan. Here you’ll find a lovely old village to walk round, a small castle, with cafes and shops close to the moorings.

 

Caves

Lombrive is one of the largest caves in Europe. There is a 90 minute tour which takes you to the ‘Mammoth’ stalactite. Or you can take the full 5 hour walking tour to get to the ‘Cathedral’ in the main cave which is 100m high. In peak season you may have to book a place on the tours as they only allow a limited number of people in order to conserve the caves.

Labouiche - North of Foix is the Riviere Souterraine de Labouiche. This is the longest subterranean river in Europe and you explore the caves by boat. The journey takes you deep underground and a mile long meander amongst stalactites and siphons. Bedeilhac this cave is huge and full of stalagmites with some of the finest cave art dating back 15,000 years. The cave was also used during the Second World War for maintaining German aeroplanes, with relics still there from this period.

 

Markets Ariége markets and fairs - GUIDEMarket

Monday - Mirepoix, Castelnaudary

Tuesday - Ax les Thermes, Narbonne

Wednesday - Belpech, Bram

Thursday - Narbonne, Mazères

Friday - Limoux

Saturday - Revel