It’s raining! Yes, it rains even here in the South of France!
Such a shame, on the very day when you were planning to see the sights of Cathar Country! No worries! Here’s our list of monuments you can visit without getting wet!
01 Villerouge-Termenès Castle
The castle of the archbishops of Narbonne is in a surprisingly good state of repair. It is one of the rare castles that still have a roof! Nestling by the river in the heart of the village of the same name, it is famous for being the site where the last of the Cathar Perfects, Guilhem Belibaste, was burned at the stake. The castle’s interior still features some of the original rooms, plunging visitors into the oh-so-troubled 14th century…
02 Caunes-Minervois Abbey
Tucked discreetly at the foot of the Montagne Noire, the abbey of Caunes-Minervois hides many a treasure! The sobriety of the cloister contrasts with the opulence of the marble present all over the abbey. The monument can be visited in “classic” walkabout style, or with the help of a virtual-reality visor. Either way, visitors get a chance to travel through the ages, from the foundation of the abbey to the contemporary comic-book exhibitions… All with a roof over your head!
03 Saint-Hilaire Abbey
Near the town of Limoux, the Benedictine abbey of Saint Hilaire is famous for the multitude of treasures that lie within. The most famous of them is the reliquary altar, sculpted by the anonymous Master of Cabestany, which is also known as the sarcophagus of Cabestany. The monument alone is an ode to elegance, from the Gothic cloister to the painted ceilings of the abbey’s living quarters. It is also the scene of an enduring legend, for this is the place where monks are said to have created the first Blanquette bubbles. This famous sparkling wine can still be tasted at the abbey, even today.
04 Arques Castle
It is often said to be the miniature replica of the counts’ castle of the Citadel of Carcassonne. The keep of Arques castle has all the features of a military structure, including arrow slits, bossed stones and corner turrets. Yet it was a residential castle, built in a refined style combining elegant comfort and the needs of defence. The interior comprises some magnificent rooms with beautiful architectural detail which seems to announce the Renaissance.
05 Saint-Papoul Cathedral Abbey
It was here at the heart of the fertile Lauragais plain, not far from the Canal du Midi that the majestic cathedral abbey of Saint-Papoul had its day of glory. As in Saint Hilaire, the Master of Cabestany left behind him many examples of his artistic work. There’s even an entire exhibition devoted to him. Art is abundant here. The different artistic eras and movements blend together in a colourful burst of styles: a Roman apse, a Gothic cloister with red-brick columns, a Baroque choir… And you can admire them all without noticing a single raindrop!