The Languedoc-Roussillon is bordered by the Mediterranean to the East and the Pyrenees Mountains to the South. This beautiful part of France is the most prolific wine producing region of the country and the area includes mountains, rivers and lakes, ancient cities, towns, villages, thermal springs, abbeys, châteaux and the famous mountain fortresses popularly known as Cathar Castles. The Canal du Midi crosses the region and connects Bordeaux with Narbonne.
Trausse Minervois boasts an easy climate with long, warm and generally dry summer months typical of the South of France. Temperatures in the months of July and August are generally late 20’s. December and January can be very cold but accompanied by wide blue skies and sun shine make them attractive months. The house pool is heated and swimming from May to October is perfect.
Rain in the summer is very rare and tends to result from occasional storm activity which is very localised. When it does rain, it arrives in very large doses in a very short period of time. The prevailing winds in this area are the “Tramontane” and the “Marin”. The Tramontane, also known as the Cers, comes from the north-west and brings a welcome cool, dry breeze in the summer. In winter, snow is expected roughly once every six or seven years. If you are seeking the snow, skiing is available from December to April in the nearby Pyrenees, about 2 hours’ drive away.
This beautiful city comes in two parts, the medieval fortified castle La Cite overlooking the ‘new’ town Carcassonne La Ville Basse. It is the second most visited place in France and was declared a world heritage site in 1997.
La Cite citadel with its numerous pointy watchtowers, double walled fortifications, cobbled paths and drawbridges has played central role over centuries of blood thirsty battles. It inspired the Disney production of ‘Sleeping Beauty’, the back drop to Robin Hood: Prince of Thieves, and the wonderful Kate Moss trilogy, Labyrinth, Sepulchre and Citadel.
Even if the history and romance doesn’t grab you the commanding views are spectacular. There is an excellent jousting carnival every day during the summer holidays and on Bastille day La Cite is part of an extravagant firework display.
The slightly newer part of the town is full of French cafes and pretty shops around the town square. Although Carcassonne is officially a city it is atmospheric, charming, relaxed and easily discovered by foot.
Less than an hour away from Trausse, Narbonne has a 5km sandy beach at Narbonne Plage, and is also near the etangs at Bages-Sigean, where you can see flamingos. In this area too is the Sigean Safari Park including elephants, lions and rhinos. Narbonne marks the end of the Canal du Midi with its own canal La Robine. Narbonne has a very good covered market which is open daily, there are also some very interesting Roman ruins in the town.
Canal du Midi
Running from the city of Toulouse down to the Mediterranean port of Sète, the Canal du Midi is arguably the most beautiful and well-known stretch of inland waterway in Southern France, inscribed as a UNESCO World Heritage Site in 1996. A large number of companies over hire boats and barges for self-drive boating, or try a few nights in a boutique hotel barge. Boats can be rented without a license at Homps, about 20 minutes southeast of Caunes.
Located north of Montpellier, the Camargue is a river delta of over 900kms. Red salt lagoons teeming with flamingoes, there are plenty of activities for immersing yourself in the wild landscape, pony riding, 4x4 tours, the great Pont de Gau Ornithological Park. Visit the stunning walled town of Aigues-Mortes, and walk the walls, recovering after with a choice of bars and restaurants in the lively square.
There is some controversy about the Cathar Castles, the main “Cathar Castles” advertised to tourists as romantic vestiges of the Cathar period are no such thing because there is very little remaining from Cathar times, castles or anything else. In fact the remains of castles that are still visible are generally castles built by the French after the Cathar Crusade, and used to defend their new border with Aragon. These castles were left to decay, after the Treaty of the Pyrenees in the seventeenth century. The justification for the deceit is that they are often built on the site of earlier castles occupied by vassals and allies of the Counts of Toulouse during the Cathar period. Carcassonne probably has the best claim to be a Cathar Castle. Many of the castles are however worth visiting with some of the better known Coustaussa, Puilaurens, Montségur, Queribus, Termes and Aguila.
There are also castles of interest because of their links with events during the Cathar period, for example: Avignonet, where the only achievement of note was the killing of a few widely hated Inquisitors at Avignonet, along with their retinue, during the night of 28 May 1242 by soldiers from Château of Montségur led by Pierre-Roger de Mirepoix. Villerouge Termenès, a castle belonging to the Archbishop of Narbonne, where the last known Cathar Parfait in the Languedoc was burned alive, and Montaillou, the home of Beatrice de Plannissols, a major character in the events following the arrest of a whole village by the Inquisition on suspicion of Cathar sympathies.
Beaches and swimming
Trausse is ideally located to access the beautiful beaches of the Mediterranean. There is Narbonne Plage and Gruissan about an hour away; delightful open sandy beaches, and our favourite, Leucate which again is about an hour away has an enormous wide beach which never seems to be busy. You can drive along the beach road with direct access to the beach and park for a small fee. There is a simple beach cafe (with fabulous ice creams) hiring sun loungers and sun brollies. There are frequent impromptu games of volley ball and all players are welcomed! If wind surfing is your thing then the ultra hip surf centre on the approach to the town (nestling in the bay) is where you want to be. This venue has kit to hire, coaching, and a ‘surfers restaurant’ they serve the best fries in the world in a pretty cool set up.
There are 2 lakes which we would recommend, Carcassonne Plage which is south of the city and has additional play features such as arial rope walking, volley ball and sailing. There is also Lac de Jouares, a 20 minute drive, which is popular with all age groups. There is canoeing, wind surfing, swimming and an inflatable obstacle course, Wibit, in the summer. The restaurant serves great bowls of moules et frites.
Obviously we love our pool, its a lovely temperature and cleaned by salt filtration so kind on your eyes, hair and skin. There is also a brand new town pool in nearby Periac, Les Bains de Minerve which has an indoor and outdoor pool, plus spa, steam room and sauna.
Gerry Patterson’s Cycling Languedoc website has a wealth of information about cycling in the Languedoc.
Bird-watching in Languedoc’s is superb and one of the most diverse regions in Europe with 4 diverse areas to choose from – two mountainous (the Cévennes and the Pyrénées) and two wetlands (the Camargue and the Etangs of Narbonne). Creme de Languedoc has a good summary of the bird varieties and locations and you will find a downloadable guide from The League for the Protection of Birds Tarn for the surrounding area.
Carcassonne is only 25 minutes drive from Trausse and has a good golf course (18 holes) at the foot of the medieval citadel and offers golfers a superb panoramic view over the Pyrenees and the Montagne Noire. Other golf courses are available in the vicinity of Narbonne, including Golf Ste Rose pitch and putt.
Discover Les Appaloosas du Pech stables located between the villages of Montouliers and Bize-Minervois. They offer trail rides from one hour to three days, exploring the Minervois. They cater for all levels of rider. For longer trail rides, which can include beach riding and swimming on horseback, meals are included in the prices. Also nearby is the Equestrian Club at Ginestas.
A place for all seasons
Whatever time of year, there are always things to enjoy in the village and beyond. Our guests have enjoyed long summers as well as the cooler winter months. Use Parc de Lignieres as your base for day trips to the Pyrenees and the Costa Brava. The town of Cadaques is a perfect overnight visit to explore the legacy of the artists Duchamp and Dali.
- Roaring fires & long walks
- Pig Festival Minervois
- Festival Cabardes
- Wine & Truffle Festival
- Pyrenees skiing
- Narbonne Music Festival
- Jazz au caveau : Jazz Concerts from February to May in Caunes-Minervois
- Irises and almond blossom
- Clocher Festival Limoux
- Jazz week Carcassonne
- Easter egg hunt in the garden
- Cherry festival in Trausse
- Gruisson windsurfing championships
- Marble festival in Caunes Minervois
- Mountain bike race La Piege
- Hiking in Aude
- Bastille Day fireworks
- Olive Tree Festival
- Festival de la Cite Melon
- Festival Gruisson Running Race
- Lazing by the pool
- Lac de Jouarres for lake swimming & kayaks
- Jousting at Carcassonne
- Cabares Triathlon
- Les Grands Chemin Arts Festival
- Boat tournament on the Canal du Midi
- La Vendage – Grape picking across the area
- Harvest Festival
- Les Grands Chemin Arts Festival
- En Primeur Festival
- Lamb Festival
- Farming Festival at Espegel
- Cycling on the Canal du Midi
- Les Grands Chemin Arts Festival
- Autumn Markets
- Foire au Gras Festival Limoux
- Arts and crafts market and story telling in Caunes-Minervois
- Cathar truffle market
- Christmas Day by the fire
- Jazz evenings : from September to December in Caunes-Minervois