Nestled between Toulouse and Montpellier in Occitanie in the south of France, Aude is bordered by the Mediterranean and the Pyrenees. Known for the richness and diversity of its countryside, Aude reveals vineyards as far as the eye can see, beaches, high mountains, gorges, and sunflower fields… Boredom is certainly not an option and you can hop from one landscape to another, or one activity to another, in just a few strides. Within this extraordinary patchwork of landscapes, meet the locals and share their party spirit while admiring the rich heritage.
1. Spectacular sites
Explore Narbonne and its ancient city with the Gothic cathedral, one of the tallest in France, the Archbishops’ palace, the extraordinary Roman museum Narbo Via… The canal du Midi, also a UNESCO site with its 300-year-old bridges and locks, is perfect for cruises or biking along the towpaths. The châteaux and abbeys of the Cathar Country, some 20 medieval sites, invite you to experience the Middle Ages in all its splendour. Carcassonne, and its medieval Cité listed as a UNESCO World Heritage site, is an absolute must-see and reason enough to visit Aude.
2. Stroll around picturesque villages
Aude is also home to secret little villages to explore. Stroll through the narrow streets of charming locations: uncover unexpected magical places, villages with legends and mysteries, communities dedicated to craftsmen and women or fishing villages… A local favourite, the village of Montolieu near Carcassonne, is the only book village in the south of France, where you’ll find dozens of second-hand booksellers, artists’ workshops and art galleries.
3. Enjoy the Mediterranean
With about 300 days of sunshine per year, Aude is one of France’s sunniest departement. Miles of sandy beaches on the Côte du Midi, laid-back seaside resorts and nature zones follow on from one another. Each resort has its own atmosphere and a wide range of activities, boardsports, watersports, hiking, or just sunbathing… Spend time on beaches suitable for families, or wild sandy beaches shapes by nature.
4. Bathe in nature
Aude is a little paradise for nature lovers. Here, flora and fauna flourish with one of the richest biodiversities in France. Take the time to look around, enjoy the great outdoors and the silence, fill your lungs with fresh air, and most importantly, recharge your batteries!
5. Let off some steam
Aude is a perfect destination for sports people of all kind. There’s something for everyone – mountain biking, rafting, cycling, horse riding, tree-walking, kitesurfing, hiking, climbing and many more… Feel free to choose! Don’t miss the legendary Cathar Trail GR®367, stretching from the beaches of the Mediterranean to the Pyrenees, this path reveals the famous medieval fortresses of the Cathar Country.
6. Meet the Audois and enjoy the rugby spirit
Meet the men and women who live here, share their laughter, their accent and a few slices of their lives : this year’s Rugby World Cup is the perfect opportunity. The rugby experience is all about enjoying the good things in life and showcasing the values of sharing! Rugby culture is deeply rooted in the authentic gastronomy and art de vivre of Aude and well-known players are often seen at the helm of the local accommodation establishments, restaurants and winegrowing estates. A great way to display the friendly, community spirit of the locals who love to just enjoy.
7. Tuck into the local cuisine
What about turning your outing in Aude into a gourmet break ? Set off to explore a region rich in savours from the land and the sea. Be tempted by Aude’s culinary specialities: oysters and mussels from the Côte du Midi, truffles, olives, and of course the most iconic dish in the Aude, the heart-warming cassoulet from Castelnaudary. Restaurants with great chefs, family guest houses, winemakers, gastronomy festivals… Give your taste buds a treat throughout the year!
8. Sip the best wines
If you’re a wine lover or simply curious, come to meet the Aude winemakers and begin a journey into the world of wine: there are a wide range of fun workshops and courses from wine-tasting to learning the best food and wine pairing.
How to get there?
Aude is easily accessible by road (motorways), rail and even by air from the UK, with several direct flights to Carcassonne airport.
For more information :
Côte du Midi: www.cotedumidi.com
Carcassonne city: www.tourisme-carcassonne.fr
Greater Carcassonne: www.grand-carcassonne-tourisme.co.uk
The whole of Aude: www.audetourisme.com
Lead photo credit : Panorama of the Corbières area in Aude © Vincent Photographie / ADT Aude
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