What to do and see in the Languedoc
Villasavary lies in the heart of Cathar country in the Languedoc wine region. The rugged Pyrenees rise up to the south and the lush, green Montagne Noire to the north with the Mediterranean to the east. The Canal du Midi is a few minutes away and the GR7 hiking trail (sentier de grande randonnée) runs past Mas de la Prade on its way to Andorra. The are also several local walks from one hour to a full day hike starting in the village with beautiful scenery and breathtaking views of the Pyrenees. So, whether you're looking for culture and history, hiking or cycling, boating, watersports, the beach, wine-tasting or gastronomy, the Languedoc has it all.
La Cité de Carcassonne UNESCO World Heritage Site
A must see for all visitors is Carcassonne with its stunning medieval fortified city. Carcassonne is a city of two halves and in the Bastide area there is a wonderful Saturday market in Place Carnot which is a great place to browse and soak up the atmosphere in one of the many cafés lining the square.
Castelnaudary, Bram and the Canal du Midi
The Canal du Midi runs through Castelnaudary and Bram. Take a walk or cycle along the towpath or around the basin at Castelnaudary, take a boat trip or stop for lunch (cassoulet is the region's speciality) at one of the canal-side restaurants. If you're feeling more energetic the Teleski centre at Bram offers a range of watersports and a café on the lake.
Revel, Sorèze and Saint-Ferréol
This is a great day out on this round trip into the Montagne Noire with its medieval towns, spectacular views and a beach on the lake at Saint-Ferréol which offers watersports and several lakeside cafés and bars.
Saissac and Montolieu
Just a little further on from Saint-Ferréol is the beautiful castle at Saissac and the pretty, bohemian village of Montolieu, known as the "village du livre" for it's many book and art shops.
Fanjeaux, Mirepoix, Camon and Limoux
Only 5 minutes from Villasavary is the pretty medieval village of Fanjeaux, home to Saint Dominic the founder of the Dominican Order. Carry on down to Mirepoix's stunning medieval square and cathedral, nearby Camon voted one of France's prettiest villages and through the beautiful scenery across to Limoux where you can try some sparkling Crémant or Blanquette de Limoux.
Narbonne and Gruissan
Narbonne is a busting cathedral city on the Canal de la Robine. Narrow streets boast a large variety of shops and restaurants, a daily indoor market at Les Halles and outdoor markets on Thursday and Sunday. On the coast is Gruissan, a lively fishing village and tourist hotspot in the summer and gateway to the long sandy beaches around Narbonne.
The coast and south to Collioure
If you travel further south from Narbonne, the wide, open coastline gives way to smaller coves and rocky outcrops. Lovely beaches can be found at Narbonne plage, Gruissan and the smaller Leucate and Le Franqui. A little further on, Collioure on the coast near Perpignan is a beautiful mediterranean village nestled in a cove with great shopping and eating and surrounded by fantastic beaches. And if you still have time, pop over the border to Spain and visit the Dali museum in Figueres.
Toulouse, Albi and Castres
About 45 minutes to the west is the large cosmopolitan city of Toulouse (the pink city), with its elegant streets and designer shopping, museums, gardens and restaurants. Travel east to the breathtaking medieval city of Albi, the birthplace of Toulouse-Lautrec (and home to the Toulouse-Lautrec museum) and a UNESCO World Heritage Site, then make a stop at Castres, noted for being the birthplace of the famous socialist leader Jean Jaurès and home to the important Goya Museum of Spanish painting.
Béziers, Montpellier and Sète
Further afield (about 1-2 hours), the Mediterranean coast east of Narbonne has many beautiful beach resorts and cities at Béziers, Montpellier and the lovely fishing port at Sète. Visit the famous staircase of 9 locks on the canal at Béziers and the beaches at Serignan, Valras and Adge. Montpellier is a lively city with great nightlife, bars, cafés and culture. Aigue Mortes, a walled town on the edge of the Camargue, Palavas beach and the Grau du Roi sand dunes are also nearby.
There are plenty of restaurants nearby to sample local french and world cuisine. A few notable places are the L'Ile aux Oiseaux on the canal at Bram which is a lovely place to watch the boats go by or the pretty garden terrace at Le Tirou in Castelnaudary. The Michelin starred Ambrosia at Pezens is certainly worth a visit and out of the many restaurants in Carcassonne Comte Roger and Hotel de la Cité are amongst the best. There are also many places to be found in Fanjeaux, Mirepoix, Limoux and Montolieu.
Hotel de la Cité, Carcassonne
Le Tirou, Castelnaudary
Wine Tasting Tours
The Languedoc offers a fantastic opportunity to sample the region's great wines. The five best known appellations in the Languedoc include Languedoc AOC (formerly known as the Coteaux du Languedoc), Corbières AOC, Faugères, Minervois AOC, and Saint-Chinian AOCs. Limoux is famous for its fine sparkling wine, Blanquette and Crémant de Limoux. Many of the vineyards are open for tasting and buying wine and there are several tour operators in the region who operate half or full day tours, lunch and tasting. For more information try vin en vacances based in Carcassonne.
The above represents just a small selection of the places to visit and activities on offer in the region. For more information you might find the following links useful:
Regional tourist websites:
Watersports at Bram: teleski nautique bram
Trails from Villasavary: les sentiers de randonnees
Hiking on the GR7: mon gr
Segway Tours of Carcassonne: mobil board