It’s February and here in northern Europe, winter still has us in its icy grip. So naturally our thoughts turn to long, lazy days in the sunny south of France, to glorious Mediterranean beaches and forests fringed by mountain views.
Here at French Connections, our thoughts are turning especially to the Aude in Languedoc Roussillon, for this is our region of the month. Typically for its Mediterranean location, the Aude enjoys long, hot summers with temperatures topping well above 30C, so no wonder we consider it a holiday heaven.
The coastline stretches for a full 50km and is positively bursting with beach resorts, so there’s plenty of swimming and sunbathing. Further inland lies a blanket of wheat fields and vineyards as far as the eye can see, with the magnificent backdrop of the Pyrénées mountains, guaranteeing you scenery with constantly changing light and drama.
The landscape is unmistakably Mediterranean with wild, rocky hills and hot, stony plains – and the wine is warm and southern too, for this is the territory of the gorgeous Minervois and Corbières. I recently enjoyed a delicious glass of Corbieres de Nimes - on offer at the supermarket - and the name, label and taste all transported me immediately to the warmth and history of this area of France.
Deep forests offer a cool, quiet retreat and are a hiker’s paradise. And the history! From the 13th century, the Cathars have left their mark in the Aude, especially in the capital Carcassonne, surely one of France’s most romantic cities. Stroll the winding streets, explore the sights, languish at a pavement café and finish with a dinner of superb local food and wine in one of the many restaurants that ooze warmth and welcome.
Where to stay in the Aude? You’ll find mouth watering traditional stone farmhouses with shutters and vine-clad terraces, village houses for a real taste of local life, beachside apartments and lovely country auberges with every luxury laid on. Check out accommodation ideas in our guide to the Aude and our guide to Languedoc Roussillon
Our photo shows the breathtaking view from Les Gascous, a spacious 12 bedroom farmhouse set in five acres of garden with a salt water swimming pool. This tranquil setting is only 10 minutes drive from the medieval city of Mirepoix, where there’s plenty to see and do.