Narbonne : Cathar
Castles : Carcassonne : Fontfroide
Nature : Beaches
City of Carcassonne
over 2000 years ago and remodelled in the 19th century, Carcassonne
is one of the finest examples of beautifuly preserved architecture
from the Middle Ages. The medieval city and its ramparts emerge
from the vineyards close to the summits of the Corbières -
impenetrable citadels. These fortresses acted as a refuge
for the Cathars during the Alibigeois invasion. Today Carcassonne
is a classed as a world heritage site by UNESCO.
The river Aude and the canal du Midi separate the " lower
town " from the mediaeval city built in the 13th century and
restored in the 19th by Viollet le Duc.
To visit in the medieval city: the Narbonne gate;
the Tréseau tower; the count's castle (12th c.); the lapidary
depot; the Aude gate; the basilica of Saint Nazaire and Saint
Celse (11th and 14th c.); Vade tower and the old town where
the shops flourish as they did in the old days.
In the lower town: the Old Bridge which crosses the
river Aude; the Murat hotel decorated with tapestries from
Aubusson; the fine arts museum; Neptune's fountain (18th c.)
in Carnot Square; Saint Michael's cathedral in typical Languedoc
gothic style; the church of Saint Vincent; St Carmes chapel
(13thc.) and the centre for Cathar sudies.
at the end of a small lane bordered by the garrigue and cypress
trees, lies the abbey of Fontfroide, one of the most beautiful
cistercian abbeys in France.
In 1093 Viscount Aymeric the 1st of Narbonne allowed a community
of monks to settle on his land at Fons Frigidus, a secret,
wooded retreat in the Corbières, with a cold water spring.
Affiliated to the cistercian order in 1145, the abbey gained
enormous propserity: it owned 25 large farms, 20,000 sheep,
numerous agricultural estates across the Aude, Rousillon and
The 12th century abbey church, of cathedral dimensions includes
the capitular hall, the cloister, with its floral decorations
which are evidence of this golden age.
In the old vegetable garden is a collection of nearly 3,000
rose bushes which flower in 11 colours in season (from May
to September). The abbey is 10km from Saint-Antoine and
open all year round.