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The Cathar Region


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We will be in Provence, in the Luberon, for a week in September, after our trip to Switzerland. We will drive our UK car to Switzerland and then down to Provence. I am thinking of meeting a US friend somewhere on our drive back to the UK and have been thinking about areas we might like to see where we could meet up. We have been to Carcassone, but have not been into the area north. I've seen this referred to as the Minerve region, or the Cathar Region (because of the old castles).

We would rent a vacation rental for a week, explore the area and do some hiking (I have the Cicerone book "Walks in the Cathar Region".

Does anyone have any recommendations for this area? Do you like the area? Where is the best place to stay?



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A few years ago we stayed in Rieux, in the Minervois. I really liked the area and Minerva, the village was quite pretty. We were not there to hike nor to visit Cathar castles specifically, just to see the over all area, get to know the wine and explore.

One of the best things was the section of the Canal du Midi. I do not know if this area has now been treed or not. If not the footpaths are fantastic along the canal.

Olonzac has a great market right on the river. We ate lunch there and it was great food at a very small price.

I can’t recommend Rieux, though many guides point out the 12th century heptagonal church right in the village.


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As with chachalaca, we stayed in Rieux Minervois which is just an average French town. It suited us for what we wanted to do, but it is not a tourist destination in itself. The heptagonal church is worth a stop. There is a section on the Aude in my most recent report. It is a fair way in as it was week 8 of our trip.

In 2012 we stayed in Couiza which is south of Carcassonne and enjoyed our week there. It was the second week of our trip. I do not have a long report on this forum, but did put one on another. The relevant week is the second post.

There is a lot to see in the area, and if you like wine, it is close to several wine regions - Corbieres, minervois, St Chinnian, as well as the excellent bubbly, Blanquette de Limoux.

Good luck.


100+ Posts
I live there :) Minerve is a beautiful village but very much focussed on tourists (half a dozen restaurants and a couple of shops IIRC). Olonzac is a lively town with all the services you need and an excellent weekly market, and if your French isn't good, I've heard more English spoken in cafes and shops there than anywhere else around here apart from Carcassonne. I think it, or somewhere very nearby, would be a good base. Couiza, Quillan etc. are good hiking country if you like hills, but they are a long way from everywhere else you might want to visit. In the Minervois you are on the doorstep of both the low hills of the Minervois and the rockier landscape of the Corbières. There are loads of good walks to do in the area, and it's also close to the Canal du Midi.


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