Welcome to Languedoc-Roussillon, one of the most fascinating areas of France stretching from the Pyrenees to Provence, with an exceptional Mediterranean climate and a spectacular coast. This region is rich in culture, fascinating history, and home to the Cathar* country. Castles and abbeys abound.
*The Cathars were a religious group that appeared in Europe during the XII century, their origins are a mystery, their belief, catharism spread to all Occitanie, but was eradicated by the catholic inquisition and crusades which ended in 1244. Catharism represented tolerance and freedom of the Occitan culture, the castles and abbeys of the Cathar Country became symbols of the Cathars struggle with the inquisition.
The most renowned of the local castles resides in the ancient city of Carcassonne, a UNESCO World Heritage site, only 15Km south of Chateau La Villatade.
The Canal du Midi, (another UNESCO World Heritage site) is also close by. It consists of 360 Km of navigable waterways linking the Atlantic ocean to the Mediterranean sea, a remarkable example of civil engineering. The canal is bordered by hundreds of thousands of trees of many varieties and sizes forming a uniquely beautiful landscape.
Languedoc-Roussillon has a rich and diverse gastronomic tradition due to the geography, its flora and fauna, the history of the region as well as its neighboring culinary influences. The Haut Languedoc (generally from Carcassone north) cuisine specializes in meat, especially duck, with cassoulet being the most common and known dish. The Bas Languedoc (generally south of Carcassone) presents a very interesting cuisine with elaborate fish preparations found along the coast. Bordering Spain, is Roussillon or French Catalonia, mostly influenced by Catalan cooking. Aude is one of the Languedoc “departments” or areas that boasts the largest number of Michelin starred restaurants.
Regional cheeses include the world-famous Roquefort blue cheese as well as less well known local goat and sheep milk cheeses. Olives and olive oil are also widely produced in the Languedoc, favored by its Mediterranean climate.
The area surrounding Chateau la Villatade is famous for truffles and you can visit the nearby village of Villeneuve Minervois with its interesting Languedoc Truffle House museum dedicated to the mysterious “black diamond”, the truffle. Restaurants abound in the many surrounding villages which you will likely be visiting to partake of the many wonderful historical sites and fun activities.
And of course there’s the wine!!!
Hiking and Sightseeing:
Hikers and mountaineers can enjoy la Montagne Noire with its spectacular scenery; consisting of walking, hiking and biking trails surrounded by rough and unspoiled forest. Ancient villages and Cathar castles sit on the mountains peaks from where visitors can enjoy an amazing view of the Pyrenees.
In addition, don’t miss the following local sights:
- Carcassonne (with its old city, a UNESCO World Heritage Site)
- Chateaux de Lastours (including an archaeological exhibition, 4000 years of history)
- Canal du Midi (a UNESCO World Heritage Site)
- Caves of Cabrespine (one of the largest in France, like an underground safari, classical speleology)
- Caunes Minervois (its abbey; also famous for crimson red marble used in Paris, Rome & Versailles)
- Minerve (a fortress village from the Cathar period, with wonderful scenic walking and nearby towns)
- Montolieu (the village of books and graphic arts, set in the heart of the Cabarde vineyards)
The region’s Mediterranean coast offers great beaches larger and sandier than those in Provence, stretching for kilometers along a predominantly flat coastline. Those close to Perpignan are far more interesting, such as Argèles North, rated one of the best beaches in all of France, where a quite stunning view of the Pyrenees forms a dramatic back drop to the beach.