Carcassonne is a treat for the taste buds and a visit must include sampling the local speciality, Cassoulet. Sample the hearty dish of duck, pork, sausage and beans at eateries Adelaide or Au Lard et au Cochon. Home to three michelin-starred restaurants, you'll be spoiled for choice, but favourites of ours include, in the Cité, L'Escargot, Comte Roger and La Barbacane, and in Bastide Saint Louis, 4 Temps and Bistrot D'Alice. For sweet lovers, award-winning Remi Touja, and family run Patisserie Bimas are not to be missed. For food as fresh as it gets, pull up a seat at one of the market traders in Les halles Prosper Montagné.
The magnetic pull of the magical medieval Cité will have you heading straight out to explore. Cross the picture-perfect Pont Vieux and walk up the cobbled streets of delightful Rue Trivalle. A climb will take you to the impressive Porte Narbonne where you enter the famous walled Citadel. Visit the museum in the Chateau Comtal for a dose of Cathar history, and walk high on the ramparts with the Pyrenees as your backdrop. Work up a hunger by circling the 3km of fortifications with its incredible 52 towers, and don't miss the gothic Basilique Saint Nazaire, ancient amphitheatre and sumptuous Hotel de la Cité.
With the medieval Cité as a backdrop, explore Carcassonne’s other side, the ‘new’ town of Bastide Saint-Louis. The myriad of narrow streets lead to the heartbeat of the Bastide, Place Carnot, where the lively Saturday morning market takes place. For a taste of authentic French life, sip strong coffee with the locals at Café Felix on the square. Board at the Port de Carcassonne for a cruise on the historic Canal du Midi, or hire a bike and take off down the tree lined towpath. Climb the bell tower of Eglise St Vincent for great views over the Bastide, and get a cultural fix at Le Musée de Beaux-Arts.
The beautiful Occitanie region offers so much to explore with the luxury of time. Using the Townhouse a base, here are our five favourite day trips...
Chateaux De Lastours, a two hour hike around the Cathar ruins
Gruissan, relaxing on the beach and lunch at La Cambuse de Saunier
Wild swimming in the mesmerising Gorge de Galamus
Mirepoix, picture perfect medieval market square
Chateau de Pennautier, visit the chateau, walk in the vines, wine taste and dine in the restaurant.
Some places are accessible by bike, others by bus or train, but we do recommend hiring a car if you plan to stay longer.
With over 300,000 hectares of vineyards, the Languedoc is France’s largest wine producing region. With a new focus on quality over quantity, come and discover hearty reds, quaffable rosé, interesting whites and the famous fizz of Limoux. A short walk from the Townhouse will take you to the Belle Epoque building of the Comptoir de la Cité where tastings are friendly and factual. Hop in a taxi to Chateau de Pennautier or Domaine Gayda for beautiful wine, excellent food and stunning surroundings. Take a lesson in wine and chocolate on Cocoa & Grapes award-winning walking tour, or dive in deeper with a chauffeured tour with Vin en Vacances.