Get the rugby experience in Aude

Rugby culture is deeply rooted in the authentic gastronomy and art de vivre of Aude and well-known players are often seen at the helm of the local accommodation establishments, restaurants and winegrowing estates.

Les Halles de Narbonne à l’heure du rush ©Emmanuel Perrin, OT Cote du Midi
Grand bassin de Castelnaudary ©Vincent Photographie-ADT de l'Aude

A Rugby ‘stopover’ in Castelnaudary

Half an hour from Toulouse, Guy Spanghero, former star rugby player for RC Narbonne, got together with his brothers to create a 3-star hotel devoted to rugby in Castelnaudary, with a restaurant and a pub called the Twickenham pub. The hotel and pub are decorated with his collection of 180 rugby shirts worn by the greatest players, some dating back 50 years, creating the warm and inviting atmosphere of a traditional pub. A unique and enjoyable experience

A Rugby ‘meal’ in Narbonne

The Narbonne indoor market hall is THE post-match place to be, whether there’s been a match or not! Whether you choose to get a little something to taste from every stall to try as many local products as possible, or take a seat at the bar, you’ll be surrounded by rugby, with rugby shirts on display everywhere, and also thanks to the people you’ll meet there!

Stop by Chez Bebelle! Gilles Belzons is his real name and for him, rugby is a family affair. The Belzons’ have rugby in their blood, passed down from father to son for generations. After his career in the back row, Bebelle set his sights on the market hall. When you place your order there, the butcher opposite and Bebelle will pass the ingredients from one stall to the next just like the oval ball!

At the Fournil de Gilles, you might run into Gilles Bourguignon! This former international rugby player couldn’t bring himself to leave Narbonne and he now runs 4 bakery-pastry shops with specialities that will make you want to stay here in the Côte du Midi too.

Just outside the market hall, Franck Tournaire, former international player from Narbonne, concocts home-cooked grilled delicacies at Chez Franck!

Animation aux halles de Narbonne, au restaurant Chez Bébelle @ Florian Vidot
Dégustation de vin dans un vignoble de Gruissan ©Vincent Photographie - ADT de l'Aude

A Rugby ‘drink’ (in moderation!)

The Côte du Midi destination and its 4 terroirs (Minervois, Corbières, Clape, and the Fitou vintage) are just as passionate for winegrowing as they are for rugby. After a fantastic career on the pitch, Gérard Bertrand took over the family estate of L’Hospitalet in Narbonne. He has been working hard to develop the estate since 1995 and plays a part in showcasing the wines of Languedoc in France and all over the world. Since then, the business has diversified and the estate now boasts a hotel and a fine-dining restaurant surrounded by the sea and vineyards. Every summer, the Château l’Hospitalet hosts a renowned jazz festival, Jazz à l’Hospitalet.

In the Grand Carcassonne area, in Minervois, Christophe Urios also turned to the world of wine after a superb career playing and then coaching rugby, in buying the Château Pépusque in Pépieux.

Rugby ‘decoration’

To take the Rugby spirit even further, venture inside Pierre Armengaud’s studio in Belpech and check out the wooden rugby balls. He is now a master craftsman in woodwork and uses precious wood from businesses that are committed to sustainable development.

Les ballons de rugby en bois, de Pierre Armengaud à Belpech, dans l'Aude, crédit Marc Mesplié
Sébastien Giorgis, fondateur de la marque Pêcheur chic à Narbonne @ Pêcheur chic

Rugby ‘clothing’

Because a lot of people play rugby here, whether you are visiting a heritage site, stopping off for a cup of coffee or going shopping, you’ll most likely run into someone talking about ‘tries’ and ‘conversion’.

In Narbonne, Pierrick Nova and Sébastien Giorgis played together at RCN and then went on to create a clothing brand. Their clothing range is designed for post-match activities such as fishing or petanque, and reflects their image: sporty but chic. That is how the brand Pécheur Chic was created, a 100% French brand made using eco-responsible materials and with original yet elegant designs.

If you want to wear your favorite team’s colors in your wardrobe, or simply bring home a rugby souvenir, come to Carcassonne. Otago Rugby, Ruckfield & Co, Only Rugby and the US Carcassonne store offer jerseys, polo shirts, shorts, shoes and accessories to prolong the experience.

Rugby ‘fun’ on the beach

The advantage of the seaside is that rugby can also be played in the sand. And you’ll never be short of space on the vast stretches of sand along the Côte du Midi coastline.
In Saint-Pierre la Mer, take a half-time break at Charly Barr. Laurent Balue, scrum-half and former coach for Racing Narbonnais spent his career between Narbonne and Béziers and so naturally ended up on the border between Aude and Hérault.
In Gruissan, the Beach Rugby Tour is a celebration of the oval-shaped ball in the sand every year. You’re likely to run into an international rugby star from the 70s and 80s. He was selected for the French team 32 times and has dozens of national titles under his belt, making Didier Codorniou an admirable player.

La plage de Gruissan au lever du soleil ©Office de Tourisme de Gruissan

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