Marble, wines and Renaissance
but also its 13th century Benedictine abbey,
Caunes-Minervois is located 25 minutes north-east of Carcassonne.
Our best bits
- Strolling for the narrow streets and admiring the Renaissance architecture
- Walking in the red marble quarries
- Visiting the Romanesque abbey
- Relaxing on a café terrace in the shade of a bicentennial plane tree
- Discovering the peaceful site of Notre Dame du Cros
- Climbing the climbing walls around the Hermitage du Cros
Visit the village... with an Italian air
The light at the end of a summer's day gives a walk through the paved, narrow streets in this medieval village a warm, gentle feel.
In Caunes-Minervois, we pay no attention to time as we focus on the signs of a rich Renaissance past. Here, there's a carved wooden door, there a mullion window or even the remains of the walls which protected the village.
Two signposted routes around the village (plan available at the Tourist Information Office) will help you make sure you don't miss anything out.
Tourist map of Caunes Minervois
Walking along the narrow streets, you discover the façades of mansions dating from the 11th to 18th centuries, evidence of the rich local bourgeois: the old Maison Vidal (rue de l’église), Hôtel Sicard with its mullion corner windows or the Hôtel d’Alibert and its internal courtyard, a magnificent example of the Italian Renaissance influence.
The 'royal' marble quarries
The marble quarries have made Caunes-Minervois internationally famous for its incarnat red marble.
The Romans appreciated it... medieval sculptors loved it!
But it was later, from Louis XIV to Napoleon, when Caunes marble reached its peak. It was used in numerous royal and imperial monuments; from Versailles to the Louvre, from Fontainebleau to Les Invalides. It is also found at the famous Opéra Garnier in Paris…
Even today, certain quarries are still active, with the marble going to Italy before being used in palaces and other buildings in the United Arab Emirates, the USA and Japan. You can visit these quarries and the 'Marbre et Terroir' ecomuseum, which will help you to understand how marble is formed, how it is extracted and how it is used nowadays.
Walking and climbing at Notre-Dame du Cros
To the north-east of the village, at the foot of the marble quarries, you'll find the Hermitage de Notre-Dame du Cros.
If you enjoy a walk through nature, you'll be delighted by a cooling little detour.
You can reach it on foot, a 30 minute walk from the village on the 'Vieux Cros' trail and then the 'Chemin de Croix, or by car, 1.5 km in the direction of Trausse-Minervois.
Once there, you'll discover a charming chapel, with its richly decorated choir in marble and wood. There's a spring, a rocky gorge, a real canyon and climbing walls, which all combine for a very pretty picture.
One of the region's hidden gems! Wild, picturesque site with climbing walls and a picnic table. A lovely spot for a great day out.
- Chemist, doctor, hairdresser, flower shop, grocer's, baker's, petrol station (card payments), newsagent/café, ATM, children's playground, tennis court, boule court, souvenir shop
- Fruit sold at the jardin la petite pepinière
- Small market, Tuesday, Thursday and Saturday
Accomodation : hôtels, B&B's, campsite and vacation rentals in lovely Caunes-Minervois
Number of residents 1,700
Altitude 176 m
Tourist Information Office: 33 (0)4 68 76 34 74
Town Hall: 33 (0)4 68 78 00 28 www.mairiedecaunes.fr
How to get there
- From Narbonne (30 minutes): head for Lézignan, then Homps
- From Carcassonne (25 minutes): head for Mazamet, then Caunes Minervois via Villalier and Villegly
Recommended parking for the Abbey - esplanade de l’Europe (5 minute walk)
- BY BUS Line A CARCASSONNE - Pépieux