Carcassonne, in itself a medieval town, is situated close by the famous, breathtaking Cité of Carcassonne, the château of which was used in the film of Robin Hood. The Cité, with its roots in Roman times, is an essential stop on any European tour. Towering over Carcassonne is this incredible medieval cité surrounded by fabulous medieval fortification, complete with restored ramparts and towers (which might possibly have inspired Walt Disney when he created Sleeping Beauty's castle). It was used by the Cathars escaping persecution during the Albegensian crusades. Even if you are not a history buff, the Cité and town of Carcassonne packed with shops, cafés, restaurants, bars, churches, and markets will still hold appeal for you. Additionally, for those who are interested in the nightlife, the many discos and late opening bars provide good entertainment. In the daytime and evening the café society of France is alive and living in Carcassonne.
During the months of July and August, the festival of Carcassonne is proud to offer diverse entertainment including pop groups, opera, ballet andorchestras in the outdoor Grand Theatre Antique de la Cite and the Theatre in Carcassonne centreville. Medieval jousting is a part of the festival and takes place daily between the outer walls of the Cite.
June 21 st , Fete de la Musique in France, sees groups, bands and individual musicians and singers enjoying the pleasure of performing for all throughout the day and night in both the Cité and centreville (the lower town). July 14 th , Bastille Day, a national holiday in France enjoys a tremendous party atmosphere, culminating in a spectacular firework display over la Cité at 10.30 pm. The lights of the lower town and Cité are turned off, spectators gather on the Pont Vieux, the Pont Neuf and the banks of the river Aude to see one of the most incredible display of fireworks in France. Additionally in the Cité during the months of July and August, live music is performed in the Place Marcou in amongst the many cafés and bars.
Just to the south of Carcassonne is the Abbey at St Hilaire. It is a little known fact that the ingenious St Hilaire monks created “bubbly” (also known as Blanquette) long before Dom Perignon and his colleagues in Champagne. The Languedoc Roussillon region produces nine different varieties of wine, Minervois, Corbieres, Fitou, La Clape, Cabardes, Quatourze, Malapere. Blanquette, (a sparkling wine) and Muscat (a fortified wine). Those who want to visit the caves and sample the “fruits of the vine” can do so in Limoux and around. In typical style, the French tend to keep the best for themselves and so a number of these wonderful wines are only available in France.
The Aude valley is the heart of Cathar Country, boasting some of the most spectacular medieval castles in the world. It is an added bonus that there are over a dozen of them within a 50 km radius. The area also has Roman and prehistoric sites, caverns, crystal caves, abbeys, churches, museums and thermal spas.
Rennes le Chateau – referred to in a number of popular novels, including The Da Vinci Code – is about 30 minutes to the south and is a necessary stopping off point for all who interested in the secrets it holds.
There is a first class golf course in Carcassonne which is open to the general public.
If you have seen the film “Chocolat” then you know what a circulade village looks like. Although the film was not made here, Preixan, where Sidsmums Travellers Retreat is located, is indeed a unique circulade village, one of 38 to be precise, which are found only in the south east and south west of France. The village, in the heart of the countryside, is 10 kms from Carcassonne and offers wonderful opportunities for those who enjoy walking, cycling or just peace and quiet.
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