Vines, marble and a medieval village!
The Minervois, to the east of Carcassonne, is a journey towards the south and the Mediterranean. The landscape changes from vines, to pines, to scrubland. The sun shines for a good part of the year and it can be seen, you feel it. From Caunes-Minervois, the marble region, to the magnificent abbey in the medieval village of Minerve, recognised as one of the 'Most beautiful villages in France', there's a surprise round every corner on these authentic country roads.
From Villeneuve to Rieux via Caunes-Minervois… from truffles to red marble
Let's go cross country, heading for the Minervois, via Villarzel-Cabardès, you'll be in the heart of the scrubland, surrounded by the sound of crickets, until you reach Laure-Minervois, where you can enjoy a tasting in one of the many vineyards.
The pretty village of Villeneuve-Minervois is nestled in truffle country, the famous black diamond!
Its heart beats to the rhythm of the winter markets, from December to February, but also sunnier times, with the summer truffle. All year round, the Maison de la truffe will introduce you to this exceptional food in an informative way, with its interactive museum and its shop. In Villeneuve, you can also visit the windmill, and stroll along the narrow, medieval streets...
Scarcely 4 km away, the old houses in the centre of Caunes-Minervois (26 km from Carcassonne) still retain traces of its rich medieval past, particularly with the mansion houses. The Romanesque abbey, with its annual comic strip exhibition, is a serene place to take a break. Caunes, it's also the story of the red marble quarries which was used to decorate the château de Versailles and even the Opéra in Paris. Italian quarrymen still visit, in the search for excellence. Should not be missed!
While you're in the Carcassonne region, take time to visit Rieux-Minervois, where you can discover the surprising heptagonal church. You can't miss it, it sits proudly in the village square, next to the information point.
You may have the chance, like us, to meet Colette, a local woman, who will give you a guided tour of 'her' church.
With love and passion, she will tell you about life in the parish and bygone days. As she says herself, she hasn't studied tourism. But she tells the story in her own words. Thank you to this charming lady, it was an absolute pleasure!
Around the lac de Jouarres… Swimming, Canal, dolmens and a medieval village
On route for the cité de Minerve, perched high above the Cesse and Brian gorges. A medieval village marked by the history of Catharism and recognised as one of the Most Beautiful Villages in France.
Then stop off in the picturesque village of Pépieux and visit the Dolmen des Fades, the largest in the French Midi.
3 kilometres on from there, you'll find Azille, a circular village fortified with a wall and towers. The 14th century eglise Saint-Julien, is a remarkable example of southern Gothic art. Before leaving, climb the bell tower for an impressive view of the plain and mountain.
Following the Canal du Midi to the east, (30 km from Carcassonne), you will come to Homps and its pretty port-Minervois, bordered by the lac de Jouarres and the Aude. The lake is an ideal spot for relaxing, eating and swimming.
17 kilometres east of Caunes-Minervois and 40 km from Carcassonne, experience a strange phenomenon called ' curiosité de Lauriole'! On this road which climbs upwards, stop for a moment and put your car in neutral. It should, naturally, roll backwards... But it doesn't, it rolls forwards! You can also try it with a bottle of water or a ball. Some think it is a lack of gravity, others think it's due to magnetism. The there are others who say it's an optical illusion... There's only one think to do... Go and try it out for yourself!
From La Redorte to Marseillette… along the Canal du Midi
Follow the Canal du Midi, for a journey through beautiful villages and nature.
Travelling alongside the Canal du Midi from Carcassonne, take a break at La Redorte, where you can walk to the épanchoir of the Argent-Double, which is a sluice channel system for excess water in the Canal. Visit Puichéric as well to see its imposing church, next to the château. You'll also find the écluse de l’Aiguille where the original sculptures will surprise you. It's said that it is the best-decorated lock on the Canal du Midi!
Continue on to Marseillette, the home village natal of the singer Olivia Ruiz, for a surprising discovery, the dried lake where they grow... rice. This unique site is now home to apple trees and rice processing plants. Rustiques will surprise you with it medieval garden, archaeological museum, church,...
Go through Trèbes, which sits on the canal... Bouilhonnac, with its château, and then head for Malves-en-Minervois, and its menhir, 11 kilometres north-east of Carcassonne.