A slower pace of life in rural South West France ...
The surrounding countryside...
The peaceful village of Brézilhac is in a stunning location set amongst the vineyards with views of the Pyrénées. An ideal base to unwind and explore the region. Walk or cycle on quiet paths and roads or visit the medieval walled city of Carcassonne. Take a boat trip on the Canal du Midi or climb one of the many Cathar castles. Shop for local produce in the local markets or simply do nothing and enjoy the garden and swimming pool!
Car hire is essential
Places to visit...
Le Petit Cinq is approximately twenty minutes from the historic walled city of Carcassonne and a similar distance to the medieval market town of Mirepoix and popular market town of Limoux. An hour’s drive east takes you to the beaches of the Mediterranean, and an hour south to the mountains of the Pyrénées.
Carcassonne and La Cité
La Bastide Saint-Louis, Carcassonne - situated on the left bank of the River Aude, the Bastide was built in a rectangular plan laid out around the central square of Place Carnot. Nowadays the Bastide, delimited by the boulevards laid out in the XVIIIth and XIXth centuries on the site of the old moats, has retained its chequerboard arrangement of streets and boasts a remarkable architectural heritage. On the right bank of the river, discover the ramparts and the château in the heart of the fortified city, "La Cité" and walk around its 3km of walls with 52 towers and barbicans, designed to prevent attack.
A medieval, colonnaded town, Mirepoix hosts a popular Monday morning market with a vast array of fresh produce, leather goods, trinkets and souvenirs. Enjoy a morning coffee in the town square beneath the gargoyles and ancient beams of the arcades. If you're staying during October, take time to visit the Apple Festival, 'Fête des Pommes".
This town is said to be the birthplace of cassoulet, the delicious local dish made primarily from confit de canard and white beans. Be sure to try it, as it is one of the highlights of traditional French cuisine.
Boat trips around the ‘bassin’ and along the Canal du Midi are a very popular excursion from the town, with journeys typically lasting one - two hours.
If you take 'the long route' between Castelnaudary and Carcassonne you can visit several picturesque villages such as Revel, Saissac, Soreze and Montolieu, each with their own particular charm. The tiny village of La Pomarede, with its imposing medieval castle, also merits a detour.
Another well-established market town on the banks of the River Aude. Market day here is on Friday, and during summer there is a Tuesday evening market, with food stalls and live music. During January to March, the bizarre Carnavale de Limoux takes place each weekend around the La Place de la Republique - definitely worth a visit.
Canal du Midi
Leisure cruises for a half or whole day are available from the canal basin in Carcassonne or Homps. Alternatively join the canal towpath at nearby Bram to enjoy a shady cycle ride or leisurely walk. A delightful 'pop-up' restaurant is open at the lock in Bram during summer months, May-August.
Visit one of the many market towns in the area - one for almost every day of the week! Enjoy buying the locally produced cheeses, charcuterie and bread to create your own feast in privacy and comfort at Le Petit Cinq.
Wine Tastings and Vineyard Tours
There are many wine 'domaines' in the area, producing exceptional wines and where tastings and tours can be arranged. Try the local sparkling wines Blanquette de Limoux or Crémant, as a French alternative to Prosecco!
Restaurants, Cafés and Bars
There is a whole host of restaurants, cafés and bars in Carcassonne, Mirepoix and Limoux, to suit most palates and budgets. However, vegetarian food is a little more difficult to find in many of the more tourist cafés.
Cycling and Walking
This is a fantastic area for road cycling and off road biking, with routes on the doorstep through vineyards and sleepy French villages. Walking and hiking trails are plentiful, from easy strolls around the villages and vines to more challenging routes in the foothills of the Pyrénées.
The beaches of Occitanie are situated on the Mediterranean coast to the east, from Sete to Collioure, close to the Spanish border. Spend a lazy afternoon in a secluded beach bar or wander around the etangs (lagoons) and watch the flamingoes or taste the locally caught oysters and seafood and Gruissan Plage.
Other Places of Interest
Grotte de Niaux - take a guided tour through some of the 14km of underground passages and galleries and discover ancient, carefully drawn and vivid wall paintings. Online reservation essential. https://sites-touristiques-ariege.oxygeno.fr/?lang=EN
Rennes le Château - this small hilltop village is known internationally, and receives tens of thousands of visitors per year, because of various conspiracy theories about an alleged buried treasure discovered by its 19th-century priest Bérenger Saunière, the precise nature of which is disputed by those who believe in its existence.
Rennes les Bains - Bathers have enjoyed the natural hot spring waters for thousands of years - they are still used today as a cure for rheumatism. Today, it is a modern thermal spa with the latest equipment.
Ax-les-Thermes - primarily a winter ski resort situated in the Pyrénées, close to Andorra, but also well known for its sulphurous hot springs (25 to 78 °C). Enjoy a couple of hours at Les Bains Couloubret, which is the ideal place to enjoy the thermal waters after a day of skiing or hiking.
The Circuit of the Cathar Castles - Today, very little remains of the story of the crusade against the Albigensians, and although Catharism has been eradicated, it remains one of the symbols of tolerance and freedom of the Occitan culture. It has left its mark on the landscape, including the remains of many castles and abbeys. The circuit includes the following Cathar castles: Queribus, Arques, Lastours, Puivert, Puilaurens, Saissac, Peyrepertuse and Villerouge-Termenès.
Teleski Nautique, Bram - Water sports venue - wakeboarding and water skiing, with café/bar on site.
For more information about other towns in the department of Aude, visit the website France this Way