A village like an open book

Montolieu, Book & Arts Village, 20 minutes north-west of Carcassonne and 45 minutes from Toulouse, should be explored like you leaf through a book, patiently, with good humour and curiosity.

There are some fifteen or so second-hand bookshops, artists and crafts, a museum of book arts and trades, the museum of raw and individual art, the 'Coopérative-Musée Cérès-Franco, but also numerous shops and restaurants for a pleasant day out.

In this village, perched in the foothills of the Montagne Noire, surrounded by Cabardès wines, thousands of visitors a year step into a giant library where the narrow streets are the aisles and the shops are the various rooms and hidden corners.

In Montolieu, pause at a painter's studio before enjoying a meal on the terrace of a restaurant. Set off again on your search for one of the paper treasures on the shelves of a bookshop. Here, time stands still and art comes to life in all its forms.

Download the plan of the village

Our highlights

  • Unearth or sell an old book, a special edition of a comic, a simple paperback, a poster or a 19th century newspaper in one of the 16 bookshops.
  • Travel far and wide with the works of art in one of the many galleries, temporary workshops, the Musée des Arts & Métiers du Livre and the Coopérative - Musée Cérès Franco (Closed for extension works untill 2024)
  •  Have a go at graphic arts at a museum workshop
  • Stroll along the streets, bedecked with flowers, visit the church of Saint-André, with its unusual dimensions, wander round the former Royal Manufacturer of woollen cloth and its factory, and enjoy one an impressive view from place de l’Espérou
  • Cool down, next to the river Alzeau ​at the bottom of the village and admire the 18th century bridge, 30 m tall, which crosses it.
  • Climb the hill to the chapelle Saint-Roch (set off from the carpark as you come into Montolieu from Carcassonne) to admire a unique panorama, a mysterious chapel and some cypress trees, some of which are over a century old and are classed as arbres remarquables, or remarkable trees. A family walk of around 6 km crosses/goes around the hill

Montolieu or Mount of Olives

The singer Nino Ferrer sang that in Montolieu, 'You'd say the south...'. The name of the village means 'Mount of Olives in Occitan, and it was built on a promontory overlooking the Alzeau and Dure gorges.
Olive trees, cypresses, different varieties of cactus and flowering shrubs bring out the beauty of the landscape.

A short history
The high rectangular bell tower of the church of Saint André watches over the village. The church, which dates from the end of the 14th century, was listed as an historic monument in 1972. The village has had an eventful history since the 17th century, with a long period of prosperity in the wool industry. Workshops, created by the Ramel family, were designated the Royal Manufacture of Woollen cloth by Louis XV. The vestiges of this beautiful past can still be seen. For nearly 30 years, Montolieu has been the only Book Village in the south of France.

Once upon a time, a Book Village...

The happy story about this village, with 800 residents, and books, would not have been written without the desire, charisma and enthusiasm of Michel Braibant, a Belgian bookbinder who was living in Carcassonne, who sadly died just two years after his lifetime mission was completed in 1992. Aware of the concept of 'book towns' in Europe, he decided to create a new Book Village in Montolieu, which would be home to bookshops and craftspeople, as well as a conservatory for Book Arts and Trades.

Thanks to Michel Braibant's personal collection of books, objects and some rare and ancient tools, together with the donation and purchase of some large machinery, the museum opened its doors in 1991. Since its creation in early 1990, the Montolieu Village du Livre et des Arts association has run numerous events around books: an old book fair, the Bruit de Page book readings, informative workshops, conferences, meetings, exhibitions, etc.


Most of the bookshops are located in charming old houses in the village. In Montolieu, only second-hand books are sold, some of which are very old or rare. Collectors will surely find something to please them. The general public can also unearth a paperback, comic or a book with a certain theme (cinema, arts, gardening, cooking, esotericism, philosophy, poetry...).

Some of the bookshops have their own speciality (comics, children's, art, magazines, old newspapers...). Some also sell vinyl records and posters or have temporary exhibitions.
Montolieu lives to the rhythm of the seasons. The bookshops are nearly all open all year round. Half are closed on Mondays, the other half on Tuesdays, so you will always find at least eight bookshops open. They are open every day during school holidays and in summer, of course.

Nous avons passé quelques heures à flâner de librairies en librairies dans ce charmant petit village. Les librairies proposent des livres d'occasion contemporains ou plus anciens pour petits et grands Nous avons été très bien accueillis et avons passé un moment très agréable Attention la plupart des librairies ne sont pas équipées pour la carte bleue et le distributeur le plus proche est à La Poste de Saissac. Prévoir espèces ou chèque !

Quote by

Aurélie S.

…& arts

Atelier Willy Ba à la Manufacture de Montolieu

Artists and Exhibitions

Artisans, creators, and art and graphic trades have settled in the village and even in the old wool factory. A Mecca for raw art, Cerès Franco's collection can be seen in the old village wine co-operative.


Download Montolieu: Heritage and history

The key events
  • Old and second-hand book fair, Easter weekend
  • World Days of Art in April
  • The annual exhibition at the Coopérative - Musée Collection Cérès Franco
  • Pages de Jazz Festival in July
  • Jazz at the l’apostrophe every Friday during summer
  • 'Aude aux arts' in August
  • Literary back to school in September
  • Comic Book Festival in October
  • 'Partir en livre' in spring
  • Treasure hunts from the Tourist Information Office during school holidays
On site

Baker's, grocer's, chemist, newsagent, post office
24 hr organic vegetable vending machine, doctor, tennis court, swimming pool in summer
Sale of fruit and vegetables, Monday evenings, Les Ares Verts

Number of residents 800
Altitude 200 m
Post code 11700
1, Place Jean Guéhenno
33 (0)4 68 24 80 80
TOWN HALL: 33 (0)4 68 24 84 03
WEBSITE www.montolieu-livre.fr

How to get there

From Carcassonne (20 minutes): follow signs for  Toulouse, then right for Moussoulens
From Castelnaudary (35 minutes), head for Carcassonne and turn right, then left as you leave Alzonne
Car parks: 2 in front of the school, in front and behind the church (3 minute walk), heading for Saissac, car park 150 m from the Tourist Information Office, heading for Saint Denis, car park 200 m from the Tourist Information Office
Longs vehicles: Coach Parking route de Fraisse
Bus Line: D (Carcassonne – Saissac)

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