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Forests, lakes and châteaux!

The compass is pointing north, the road is climbing, you're heading for the Montagne Noire on a trip in the very heart of nature, with forests, lakes and hilltop villages. On hot, summer days, this is a refreshing diversion and within just a few kilometres, you will find a totally different landscape.
Here, you can see the changing of the seasons. In autumn, there is a festival of colour, and with that comes the harvesting of chestnuts and porcini mushrooms. In winter, you can admire the view of the snow-covered Pyrenees from the château de Saissac or the Pic de Nore (1211 m). And in summer, you can cruise along the roads bordered by meadows, where cows, sheep and deer munch on the green grass, and then take a refreshing dip in a lake, surrounded by forest.


From Saissac to Brousses-et-Villaret… From a Cathar Country château to a papermill

Leaving Carcassonne, pass through the Montolieu, the Village of the Boook, and head for Saissac (25 km), a medieval village with a magnificent view over the plain and the Pyrénées. Before wandering through its narrow streets, or visiting its 11th century château and royal money museum, stop for a moment at the entrance to the village... for wonderful photos of château with the Pyrénées as the backdrop.

®Balades Occitanes

The road climbs even further and we find ourselves in the heart of the forest for a break at the Bassin du Lampy (in 4km). Monitored swimming in summer in this lake, right in the centre of the forest, and family walks alongside the rivulets which, via the Alzeau, feed the canal du Midi.

®Balades Occitanes

Le moulin à papier

There's water, water everywhere here, and the Dure has, for centuries, driven the mills in the region. The last one still to be active is located in Brousses-et-Villaret. After a walk of a few hundred metres among blocks of stone, which have been polished by water and time, you reach this haven of peace. The pretty Watermill has been in the Durand family for seven generations. It is the last papermill in Occitanie to still be active. Young and old can make their own paper, during a guided tour.


From Lastours to Cubserviès via Salsigne… From a château, to a waterfall and gold!

We set off for one of the most visited sites near Carcassonne, Lastours and its four towers, remains of the Cathar past. This listed site allows you to discover the towers, built following on from the Albigensian crusade. The site is accessed by a magnificent track, open to all, but a little challenging. From the belvedere opposite the châteaux, there is a unique view.

Continue along the pretty road by the winding Fresquel river to reach Roquefère, a delightful village with stone houses, and then carry on to Cubserviès and its waterfall, one of the highest in Europe. A grandiose spectacle which can be viewed after a hike (13.8 km). Here, we are near Salsigne and its old gold mines, still exploited until the end of the 90s.

Montagne Noire Tourism Office

Cabrespine, Castans and Pic de Nore… From the Gouffre géant, to llamas and hiking

The mast on the summit of Pic de Nore appears to be calling us, before we walk the 12 km down to the very picturesque village of Castans which clings to the mountainside. This ensemble of seven hamlets is crossed by water from seven streams, and offers a network of magnificent walking trails and eleven marked routes. You can even do them... with llamas !


But before that, a break for lunch on the shores of the lake at Pradelles-Cabardès.
From here, you can walk along the 7 km Sentier des Glacières to reach the Pic de Nore, the highest point in the Montagne Noire. This site is often windy, even in summer, so a jacket is recommended. You can also reach the summit by driving from Pradelles-Cabardès.

Lac de Pradelles ®Balades Occitanes

Depuis le Pic ®irinamarx

Then, we head for Cabrespine (30 km) to discover its Gouffre géant, or giant chasm, and its glass footbridge for guaranteed thrills. The Gouffre is recognised as one of the ten most beautiful caves in Europe! here you will journey 250 metres towards the centre of the earth, where you will discover stalactites and stalagmites, their majesty highlighted by a beautiful light show.

Vue depuis le gouffre géant

La vallée de l'argent double, Lespinassière et Citou

Find beautiful photos of the region on the Occitanie Walks page


The landscape of your holidays

From the serenity of the canal du Midi to the green banks of the river


In Aude, Occitanie Cathar Country

Carcassonne et sa Cité majestueuse sont le point de départ idéal pour partir à la

grands espaces et paysages activités en Grand Carcassonne Aude

The Great Outdoors

Larger than life A holiday in Greater Carcassonne isn't complete without exploring the wild countryside,