The Aude is a small area that seems to encapsulate all the best of France. A hot, sunny climate, miles of low-key Mediterranean coastline, the majestic Pyrenees mountains, vast vineyards producing iconic wines, colourful markets selling luscious local produce, picturesque farmhouses to stay in – oh and the capital, Carcassonne, is one of France’s most romantic historic cities.
No wonder the Aude is our region of the month. Located in southern central France, in Languedoc-Roussillon, it’s a popular choice for holidays and we have a really good selection of accommodation, from seaside apartments to chateau gites and family villas in peaceful countryside.
This is Cathar country, so there is plenty of history to discover. Amongst a rich heritage are medieval castles, ‘Citadelles du vertige’ (literally ‘head spin’ citadels), sites of the 13th century Cathars who were so persecuted, romanesque abbeys and cloisters, prehistoric caves and the Roman city of Narbonne.
This territory is ideal for viticulture and the Aude contains the biggest and oldest vineyard of France. Fitou, Corbières and Cabardès are among the wine making areas and, when it comes to food to accompany such delights, gastronomy here has been taken to the level of a fine art.
Aude offers a wide range of outdoor activities in spectacular and varied landscapes, not least walks under century-old trees bordering the famous Canal du Midi, the miracle of engineering that forms a 360-km network of navigable waterways that are such fun to cruise. Then there is hiking, water sports, cycle touring, mountain biking and cave exploration.
Carcassonne really is a must-see. Once the inspiration for ‘The Sleeping Beauty’, the city lies inside imposing medeival ramparts with 52 towers and is a maze of narrow streets, memorable views, fascinating sites and reminders of Cathar history. When you get tired of sightseeing, just wander into one of the 50 restaurants located inside the central Citadel area.
In July the city celebrates two popular festivals - the Festival de La Cite and the Festival de la Bastide. The first features concerts of classical and pop music by world renowned artists, while the second combines opera and dance, music, theater and performance, both traditional and experimental.
See more about the region and find your perfect holiday accommodation at our complete guide to the Aude.
Canal du Midi photo by Paul Palau, Aude Tourism