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Pyrénées, Cévennes, facilities and activities resort by resort

Real luxury

Snow-kiting, speed riding

ice diving, snowscoots, bike-skiing… alternative winter sports! Winter 2013-2014

Conception : Studio IDM - Photo Paul Palau

is being there! Yellow train, red train: ways of getting around, big in colour Good food, Christmas & New Year eating, winter dining Large scale tourism, another side to the region


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Direction de la Communication 10/2013



Rejoignez-nous ! www

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Special edition of Midi Gourmand published by the Société du Journal Midi Libre French limited company with share capital of 6.356.302 € Main stakeholders: GSO-SA – FCPE GMLA Registered office: rue du Mas-de-Grille 34430 Saint-Jean-de-Védas Postal address: 34438 Saint-Jean-de-Védas Cedex Tél : 33 (0)4 67 07 67 07 Managing editor: Alain Plombat Midi Tourisme is produced by Pôle Editions, in partnership with Sud de France Développement Director: Didier Thomas-Radux Tél : 33 (0)4 67 07 66 11 E-mail: Editorial coordination: Didier Thomas-Radux Editorial: Marie Vanhamme, Anne Schoendoerffer, Claire Mondrian, Didier Thomas-Radux Archives photos : Jean-François Salles (p. 22,36); Paul Palau (p. 1,4,8, 9, 11, 16, 18, 19, 26, 30, 33, 34, 35, 37, 38, 43 ,44, 46, 49); Yves Estivals (p. 29); BIM (p. 30); Alexis Béthune (p. 39); Pierre Saliba (p. 45); Frédérique Berlique (p. 13); Bernard Liégeois (p. 27) ; Aurélio Rodriguez (p. 40) ; Sensotek (p. 42), Garrigae (p. 44) ; Bruno Calendini (p. 48) ; OT Font-Romeu (p. 18, 19, 21, 35); Musée Céret (p. 44); Station de ski de Camurac (p. 7); Espace Nordique Capcir (p. 8); I.Angles – CDT 66 (p. 10); D.Quet (p. 15); Station Formiguères (p. 12); L’Indépendant (p.47); Domaine skiable Cambre-d’Aze (p.14); Fotolia (p.6,49); R. Jordan (p.43); Syndicat intercommunal du Puigmal (p. 16); Station Porté-Puymorens (p. 17); Guy Grégoire (p. 29); CDT Aude (p. 11) ; William Truffy (p. 15, 41); Stéphane Barbier (p. 22) ; BIM (p. 44) Cover photo: Paul Palau Layout: Studio IDM, Saint-Jean-de-Védas Printed in Europe. Legal deposit: at publication ISSN number: 2112-7468 Joint Committee: 0413K 90782 Midi Libre – December 2013 ©

Themountainsof theSouth ofFrance,aLanguedocRoussillondestination


now and sunshine are no longer sufficient to attract the crowds. Nowadays, a broad range of original activities must be available for tourists. Mono-activity holidays or weekends are a thing of the past! If skiing during the day – from Nordic skiing to downhill skiing, between the Catalan Pyrenees and the Cévennes, Languedoc Roussillon boasts resorts that offer all possible types of winter sports – there must still be the opportunity to go snow-shoeing, to try out snowkiting or ice diving! Not forgetting that after-ski relaxation also means spa or thalassotherapy treatment. Languedoc-Roussillon’s 16 ski areas offer accessibility, atmosphere and family friendly resorts, providing a wide range of services including all of these possibilities. All year round, from the Pyrénées-Orientales to the Lozère, from the Aude to the Hérault, not forgetting the Gard, the warm climate also allows activities which would be impossible elsewhere. You can thus go skiing in the Pyrenees and strolling around the city of Carcassonne. Walk around the antique monuments of Roman Nimes or contemplate the buildings built by famous contemporary architects in Montpellier. Explore the museums or climb the Cathar castles. In all seasons, Languedoc-Roussillon remains a welcoming region for all those eager to discover it. In both winter and summer, all these pleasures are close to hand.

Languedoc Roussillon


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Art City


Symbol of antiquity







CÉVENNES (19-22)


Golf course




• TOUR: 24


Hot springs

Animal park




Mountain resort




River stop





Cruise Stopovers Airport TGV Station Exceptional garden



Regional Nature Park Company visit Green holiday resort

More information To read more about and discover the Languedoc-Roussillon, “South of France Development – Tourism in Languedoc-Roussillon” has several additional resources available: New website: Iphone app: monSuddeFrance Iphone app: Sud Prestige, downloadable to Itunes. The small black square attached is a QR code that lets you connect straight to the site By scanning this code with your smartphone, you'll go straight to the South of France homepage. Development – Tourism in Languedoc-Roussillon.

Most beautiful villages in France UNESCO Blue flag Way of St James Rivers and canals of the Mediterranean Via Domitia


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From the Cévennes to the Pyrenees, Languedoc-Roussillon is a region of dales and mountains, peaks that are green in the summer and covered with a blanket of snow in the winter, a place for skiing and hiking completely surrounded by unspoilt nature. In the winter, skiing and its various disciplines, but also snow-shoe trekking and dog-sledding, ice diving, sleigh rides and relaxing hydrotherapy are all popular activities. Between the sites in Pyrénées-Orientales, Aude and the resorts of the Cévennes, Margeride and Aubrac, all the pleasures of this region are within easy reach.

Camurac - 1,400/1,800 m ................................................. p. 7 Capcir Cross-Country Skiing Area - 1,500/1,900 m ... p. 8 La Quillane - 1,710/1,810 m ................................................ p. 9 Les Angles - 1,600/2,400 m ............................................ p. 10

Circuit : 48 H circuit in the Lauragais (Aude) ............. p. 11

Formiguères - 1,700/2,400 m ......................................... p. 12 Puyvalador-Rieutort - 1,700/2,400 m .......................... p. 13 Espace Cambre d’Aze - 1,640/2,400 m........................ p. 14

Circuit : 48 H tour to the Roussillon plain (P.-O.)....... p. 15

Cerdagne Puigmal - 1,800/2,900 m (closed winter 2013) .. p. 16 Porté-Puymorens - 1,600/2,500 m ............................... p. 17 Font-Romeu - Bolquère / Pyrénées 2000 1,700/2,200 m ....................................................................... p. 18

portfolio ................................................................... p. 19-22

Les Bouviers-Grandrieu - 1,400/1,485 m .................... p. 23 Laubert-Plateau du Roy - 1,200/1,450 m .................... p. 24 Le Bleymard - Mont Lozère - 1,400/1,610 m .............. p. 25 Le Mas de la Barque - 1,340/1,650 m ............................ p. 26

Circuit : 24 H from mountains to valleys (Gard) ........ p. 27 Aubrac sud - Bonnecombe - 1,200/1,450 m .............. p. 28 Nasbinals - 1,200 m ............................................................ p. 29 Mont Aigoual - Prat-Peyrot - 1,560 m .......................... p. 30

Circuit : 24 H tour around Margeride (Lozère)............. p. 31 SUDDEFRANCE - 5 -

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The great outdoors in the Cévennes,Aubrac and Margeride

Around Mont Aigoual and Mont Lozère, between Gard and Lozère, seven ski resorts overlook the wide open spaces of the Cévennes, enabling visitors to discover wild landscapes through cross-country skiing, snow-shoe trekking and sleigh riding.

Les Bouviers-Grandrieu Laubert-Plateau du Roy Le Bleymard - Mont Lozère



Le Mas de la Barque Aubrac sud Bonnecombe



Mont Aigoual - Prat-Peyrot












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All types of skiing in the Pyrenees

Situated at altitudes of between 1,600 and 2,700 metres, nine of the ten ski resorts in the Languedoc-Roussillon region are located in the Pyrénées Orientales. The skiable area stretches principally from Haut-Conflent to Cerdagne and Capcir. A tenth resort, Camurac, is situated in Aude.



Les Angles



Espace Nordique du Capcir Formiguères



Cerdagne Puigmal

Espace Cambre-d’Aze Porté-Puymorens

Font-Romeu - Bolquère / Pyrénées 2000




La Quillane

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he only ski resort in Aude, Camurac occupies the heights of the Pays de Sault area, a succession of narrows and gorges leading to the source of the river Aude, nestled be-

tween forests of beeches and fir trees, the wetlands of the prairies and summer mountain pastures that in winter give way to skiers. Dominated by the Tabe Massif and its ridge, the Pic du SaintBarthélemy and the Pic du

The fir tree trail

1,400/1,800 m

This trail runs from Coudons to Camurac and crosses the Grand and the Petit Plateau of Sault. Created in 1970 by the Syndicat Intercommunal d’Aménagement Touristique (a local authority joint board for tourism development), the “Route des Sapins” runs through the forests of Callong-Mirailles, Picaussel, Coume-Froide, La Benague, La plaine and Comus where you can admire the full diversity of the forest environment, including the tallest fir trees in the Department, some as high as 50m. There are also spruce trees interspersed with stands of beech, downy oak and larch. This 96 kilometre-long loop runs through villages and numerous panoramic viewpoints over outstanding landscapes such as the Gouffre de Picassel, other viewpoints on the Frau Gorges, the Joucou Gorges, or historic sites like the Memorial to the Maquis, the Cathar castle of Montaillou, or Saint James’ Abbey at Joucou. Interpretation panels and fully-equipped picnic areas can also be found along this trail. Maison de la Montagne du Pays de Sault visitor centre. Tel: 33 (0)4 68 20 65 69

The site : 11 sign-posted ski runs: 2 green, 5 blue, 2 red, 2 black. 4 button lifts and, new for this year, 1 T-bar surface lift. Beginners’ area with rope tow. Toboggan run. Ski school with children’s area. Snowshoe trails. Sign-posted cross country skiing trails. 25 snow cannons.

Soularac - mountains at an altitude of 2,348 metres - this family resort has successfully made a prime asset of its protected natural environment. In architectural terms, the village has resisted concrete-based development, opting instead for the authenticity and charm of a mountain hamlet. At the heart of an agricultural area centred on sheep farming, in which the richness of the natural setting constitutes an invaluable heritage, winter sports go hand in hand with discovering the environment. It is an ideal place for couples and families to plunge into the depths of wintry nature. The cross-country skiing and snow-shoe trekking area covers 9 kilometres, while the Alpine skiing area has 11 marked slopes accessed by four ski lifts. Beginners and children are also catered for with a ski school, toboggan run, beginners’ area with a rope tow and snow parks.

Practical information : Tél : 33(0)4 68 20 32 27 Tourist Information Centre : Tél : 33 (0)4 68 20 75 89 + €2 for purchase of ski pass card upon arrival at the resort, valid for an unlimited period. SUDDEFRANCE - 7 -

The bear’s footprints

Although the deer, capercaillie, Rosalia longicorn (a protected insect) and Boreal Owl are customary inhabitants of these diverse natural environments, “Baloo“ the bear also finds the area to his liking. Released in the Pyrenees in June 2006 as part of the reintroduction and conservation programme for brown bears in the Pyrenees, this Slovenian plantigrade made his home in the area of the Plateau de Sault. Discreet and timid, he is difficult to spot, but never seems to give up searching for a soul mate, although he has little chance of finding one, as females are only present in the central Pyrenees, an area jealously guarded by Pyros, a 23-year-old alpha male! The Pas de l’Ours (“Bear’s Footprints“) viewpoint, the name of which recalls the animal’s historic presence, overhangs the Gorges de la Frau, the kingdom of Golden Eagles, Egyptian Vultures and Peregrine Falcons. This listed natural site is also a Mecca for legends and stories as it connects the Montségur castle – the seat of Catharism – to that of Montaillou where twentyfive interrogations were carried out by the inquisitor Bishop Jacques Fournier during the crusade against the inhabitants of Albi between 1318 and 1325.

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Thelargest of the cross-countryskiingareas


t the heart of the Catalan Pyrenees Regional Park, Capcir, the highest plateau in the Western Pyrenees (1,500 and 1,900 m) is bordered by the Madres Massif to the east and the Carlit Massif to the west. The ancient glacial basin which, despite the persistent cold northern winds, enjoys a large amount of sunshine, unfurls its never-ending sumptuous landscapes – immense pine forests dotted with lakes and frequented by izards and mountain sheep. To the west, where the mountains stretch towards the sky, reaching their highest peak at Carlit (2,921 m), perch the Alpine ski resorts of Formiguères, Puyval-

The best way to take a walk...

1,500/1,900 m

Hiking is strongly featured here with 37 kilometres of marked crosscountry skiing trails and 46 kilometres of marked snow-shoe-trekking paths where the snow has not packed down, giving visitors the impression of striding through virgin terrain in the heart of the valley. Snowkiting, which is to snow what kitesurfing is to the sea, offers a different perspective. The Capcir resort is scattered with a multitude of spots at different altitudes for experienced snowkiters and free-styling “pros“ who love to toy with the rough terrain. Also available: discovery sessions with thrills guaranteed! This high, vast plateau is also a preferred terrain for competitions: the Premières Planches du Capcir (“Capcir’s First-time Boarders“), a race for children and part of the Challenge Jeune Fondeur (“Young Cross-Country Skiers’ Challenge“) cross-country skiing competition, the Traversée Capcir (“Capcir Cross“), from juniors to seniors, in four stages in classic style ranging from 2.5 to 30 kilometres, and finally the Capcir Grand Prix, a special free-style cross-country race that forms part of the Copa Catalana championship.

The site : Over 190 kilometres of slopes with 4 red, 5 blue, 2 green, 5 cross-country skiing trails, 2 snow parks with crosscountry rope tow, 8 marked snow-shoe trekking paths with free access, one dog-sledding trail, and a snowkiting area. Picnic rooms Day pass : €9,50.

ador and La Quillane. With 140 kilometres of marked trails, the Capcir cross-country skiing area is the largest in the South of France.

Three in one With cross country skiing, shoeshoeing, hiking, tobogganing, sled dog rides, biathlon, and much more, the 13 ski runs at the Capcir resort provide a wide range of family activities to enjoy both the nature and the snow. Bearing the “4 Nordiques” logo, the ski area is split into three parts. The highest of these, la Llose‑Clavera, lies at 1,900 m alWeekly passes from €29 à €50 Package with ski pass + equipment + lessons: from €32 (cross country skiing, or snowshoeing, or biathlon). Guided Nordic walking, or snowshoe outings with a meal of local produce from the Torn area. In addition, every Thursday evening during the school holidays, there will be night time walks followed by mulled wine.


titude with views of the Mediterranean. It has wide ski runs that are ideal for learning cross country skiing. One of the three snowshoe trails connects the Torn Mountain Refuge with the centre of the resort. The La Quillane‑Calvet ski area is perfect for beginners ski lessons from the age of 4 and also has cross country skiing and sled dog trails as well as a toboggan run. Finally, La Lladure-Le Galbe‑La Matte, combines 5 Nordic walking trails and 3 snowshoe tracks, all freely accessible. Sled dog outings and equestrian activities are also possible.

Capcir Nordic Ski Area Col de la Quillane - La Llagonne Tél : 33 (0)4 68 04 49 86

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Afamilyresort that wants tostay that way Village excursions Although this winter sports resort is quite recent, the village it is situated in has been around a lot longer! La Llagone has been a main route linking Haut Conflent and Capcir via the La Quillane pass ever since the 11th century. Festooned in forests, this ancient, fortified village is clustered around its parish church, SaintVincent, built in the 12th Century. Recently listed as an official historical monument, the church has conserved 15 mediaeval liturgical decorative objects, including

a wooden statue of the Majesty (Christ the Majesty) painted in the 12th century. A little further north lies Matemale lake, an ice-diving site, sparkling in its magnificent green setting, at an altitude of 1,600 metres, in the heart of the Royale de la Matte forest with its ageold pines, and its populations of deer and stag. The village of the same name, through which the river Aude runs, houses no more than 300 inhabitants throughout the year has lost none of its mountain charms.

Art and War

A 1,710/1,810 m

t an altitude of 1,700m, opposite the Cambre-d’Aze peak, in the little village of La Lagone just a hop, skip and a jump from Mont‑Louis and its solar furnace, lies the resort of La Quillane, the smallest of the Catalan ski resorts. Built on the La Quillane pass inside the Capcir Cross-country Skiing Area, its four slopes - three green and one blue - are ideal for discovering and starting out in Alpine skiing. Enjoy the warm and welcoming atmosphere far from the larger, more crowded Pyrenees ski resorts! The two

baby slopes in the children’s area are managed by the Ski EFS School, which offers a wide range of alpine skiing lessons, cross-country skiing lessons, private snow-boarding lessons and group classes for beginners young and old. This family ski resort does its best to stand out from the rest. Its slopes are lit with the help of 34 floodlights until 8 o’clock in the evening; it boasts snowy slopes with at least 11 snow cannons and also offers entertainment in the terrain park where beginners and experienced skiers alike can discover free style skiing safely, on secure half pipes with freestyle airbags!

Area: Alpine skiing, slopes: 3 green and 1 blue, 1 children’s snow park. 2 rope tows. 2 ski lifts. 11 snow cannons.. Evening skiing thanks to 34 floodlights. La Quillane - Information: Tél : 33 (0)4 68 04 22 25

Strategically situated on the crossroads between Capcir and Cerdagne, Mont-Louis is the highest fortified village in France. Designed by Vauban in 1679 to defend the new border with Spain, Capcir became French at the same time as Roussillon, Conflent and 33 other villages in Cerdagne. This stronghold belongs to a network of major Vauban sites now listed as UNESCO World Heritage sites (2008), in a group which includes twelve fortifications designed by the famous military engineer. The path running along the bottom of the ramparts offers a view of the fort in its entirety and enables you to appreciate the half-moon shaped bastions protecting the curtain walls, the watchtowers and the moats. In 1936, republican refugees from the Spanish civil war piled into the confines of the citadel which dominates the stronghold. Now the National Commando Training Centre, the citadel has opened its doors to visitors wishing to see the puits des Forçats (“Convict’s well“), constructed using 18th century wood, which provided the whole town’s water supply. Mont-Louis is also home to the first solar furnace to use double solar power, built in 1949 and used for both scientific research and harnessing energy for industrial production and crafts, such as ceramic kilning.

The “Catalan Snow Season” package lets you ski for the whole winter season at the 8 Catalan Snow resorts: Cerdagne Puigmal 2900 (closed this year), the Cambre d’Aze area, Font-Romeu, Pyrenees 2000, Formiguères, La Quillane, Les Angles, Porté Puymorens and Puyvalador. It offers several different price deals from 196€ for 6 days (172€ child/student) to 613€ (543€ child/student) for the full season. More information on:


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Amulti-faceted resort


he resort of Les Angles is one of the most beautiful resorts in the Pyrenees and the liveliest in the Capcir. There is a vast array of activities on offer to satisfy a wide spectrum of skaters, skiers and boarders. From the Bigorre plateau with its ski schools to the Pla de Mir for lovers of skating and Balcère and Jassettes with their 50 km of downhill slopes, with varying levels of difficulty, descending 800 metres and weaving through the forest with a magnificent panoramic view over the Matemale lake. This year, the resort has a sixth downhill ski area (2,325 m) on

A moment of madness

the Costa Verde cirque. It comprises four black free-ride slopes for experienced skiers wanting wide open spaces.The snow park spreads over 5 hectares at an alti-

Getting lost in the alleyways

1,600 – 2,400m

Built in the foothills of the Llaret massif, the highest of the Capcir, the village of Les Angles is among those rural mountain communities which have successfully made the transition to ski resorts. The old village has nevertheless not forgotten its past. The Place du Castel (“Castel Square“) is dominated by the castle keep – a vestige of 12th century fortifications. The façades of some houses still have bread ovens projecting from them and their lintels are engraved with the initials and professions of their previous owners. Here and there, among the alleyways rectangular granite fountains can be seen. These were installed at the beginning of the last century to provide water for the villagers and their herds. Firmly seated in the belfry, the bell still chimes to mark the day’s activities. A large number of festivities are planned for January, to mark the 50th anniversary of the resort in 2014; concerts, shows, sporting events, torch-lit descents and fireworks will liven up the season!

Area: 45 downhill ski slopes, seven of them black runs. 16 red, 9 blue and 13 green. Snow park with a slope-style circuit. Snowboardcross with several modules: tables, big air, hip, handrails... Quarter turn. Freestyle airbag. 365 snow cannons, 1 cable car, 4 chairlifts, 12 ski lifts, 2 tows. 8 shuttle buses. Accommodation capacity, more than

tude of 2,000 metres. Created in 1991 and restructured in 2009, it has adapted to reflect changing practices and techniques and offers those adept at ski jumps and acrobatics a range of freestyle modules and several circuits (snowboard cross, slope-style, snowskating and an all-new Freestyle Airbag.). These are the facilities which make Les Angles “THE“ snowboarding Mecca in Languedoc-Roussillon! For those who prefer a gentler experience of nature, the resort offers 36 km of cross-country skiing trails and snow shoe paths as well as dogsledding trails. Border the Balcère lake, follow the meanders of the river Aude, explore the contours of the valleys and in the heart of the forests you might even spot an izard (a Pyrenean chamois), a mountain sheep or a capercaillie...

18 000 rooms. The resort endorses environmental protection Picnic area. Day pass: €35. Ski pass card ticketing. Resort Information: Tél : 33 (0)4 68 04 32 76 Further information on the new website:


Take to the skies, paragliding and landing on your skis 600 metres further down the slope. Alternate between the snow and sky while being pulled along by a kite. Play like a seal on the ice-floor, diving into the frozen lake into waters of 2°C (in a wet-suit of course) tied to the outside world by a rope (accompanied by a professional). Or, just before nightfall, when the slopes are deserted, play snowsnakes with the family on a half-hour descent on a toboggan train... Since the introduction of the first chairlift in 1965, Les Angles has maintained its ambition of keeping itself at the forefront of modernity and innovation.

The “Catalan Snow Season” package lets you ski for the whole winter season at the 8 Catalan Snow resorts: Cerdagne Puigmal 2900 (closed this year), the Cambre d’Aze area, Font-Romeu, Pyrenees 2000, Formiguères, La Quillane, Les Angles, Porté Puymorens and Puyvalador. It offers several different price deals from 196€ for 6 days (172€ child/student) to 613€ (543€ child/student) for the full season. More information on:

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PYRENEAN ALTITUDES 48-HOUR CIRCUIT IN THE LAURAGAIS (AUDE) Located on “wind hills”, the mills offer superb views of Le Lauragais, the Black Mountain and the Pyrenees.

Overlooking the threshold of Le Lauragais, Fanjeaux, whose name means “Temple of Jupiter”, has had a religious vocation since the Roman era. This former bastion of Catharism would become one of the spiritual centres of the Dominican faith, traces of which can still be seen in the Convent of the Friars Preachers and the

The Grand Bassin of Castelnaudary.

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Saint-Hilaire Saint-Hilaire


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5 - A sophisticated stop La Pomarède

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Castelnaudary is not only the capital of the cassoulet, which restaurant owners, members of the Cassoulet Route, will prepare superbly for you. This capitalnal du Midi Sallesof the Lauragais combines the charm of its location on the banks sur-l'Hers of the D. 624 Canal de Midi with the beauty of its old town, reflected in the Grand Bassin. This body of water is the starting point of boat trips to discover a different perspective Belpech of the town or the Saint Roch locks. Explore this former stronghold from the crusade against the Cathars on foot, visit the large 17th century townhouses or head to the old boutiques on Place Gambetta, which has been given over to trade since the 17th century. Tourist Office. Place de la République.D. 7 Tel.: 33 (0)4 68 23 05 73.

2 - On the wind hills

The château de Montmaur.

series of arches supported by small twin marble or brick columns and its capitals sculpted with foliage and monstrous animals. Twenty minutes away, the château de Montmaur, pillaged during the Religious Wars, awoke from its torpor during the Renaissance. It then fell into the hands of rich land-owners D. 6 Mas Cabardès who traded woad. This tinctorial 29 Saissac plant, grown on the fertile hills, transformed 4 Le Lauragais into a “land of plenty” D. 1 03 5 (“pays de cocagne”, named after D. 1 18 Castelnaudary Peyriac-leaves), where 20the balls of crushes D. 6 1 a number ofMinervois châteaux (Belflou, ConquesMarquein, Baraigne, Fajac la 2 A. 61 N. 113 sur-Orbiel Relenque and Ferrals) and churches were built thanks to the wealth Alzonne CARCASSONNE of the woad merchants. D. 1 1 9 D. 61 0Saint-Papoul Abbey. 3 A. 61 Montréal 5, place Monseigneur de D. 1 02 Fanjeaux Langle. Tel.: 33 (0)4 68 94 97 75. Open from November to D. 1 02 March, weekends and school holidays from 10 am to 11.30 118 D. am and from 2 pm to 4.30 pm. 19 Alaigne D. 1

Windmills are characteristic of the landscape of the Lauragais Plain. South-West of Castelnaudary, the commune of Mas Sainte Puelles had no fewer than six flour mills. Two of them still extend their renovated sails to the Autan and Cers winds. The Roques windmill in Villasavary, ringed by metallic hoops, the mill in Villeneuve la Comptal, the shafts of the three aligned mills in Pexiora, the tower mill of Saint-Jean, whose conical roof and wooden sails overlook the village of Laurabuc and, further on, the windmill of Montauriol, are among the sentries standing guard over the past of a region long considered the granary of Languedoc.

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3 - Against Cathar heresy in Fanjeaux

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Monastery of Prouilhe, which was founded in 1206 and is still home to Dominican nuns. The lanes in the village have conserved their mediaeval nature. The former Convent of the Friars Preachers is entered through a monumental 18th century gate. The church, dedicated to Notre Dame and typical of the southern Gothic style, contains an 18th century painted décor and several relics. Sainte-Marie Monastery. Prouilhe. Tel.: 33 (0)4 68 11 22 62. Fanjeaux. Tourist Office 6, Place du Treil. Tel.: 33 (0)4 68 24 75 45.

4 - On the trail of the “châteaux pasteliers” (woad castles) Climbing up to the east of Castelnaudary, the former fortified village of Saint-Papoul can be proud of its Benedictine Abbey, the most beautiful religious architectural complex in Le Lauragais; it was founded in the 8th century and became a bishop's palace in 1312. The visit starts with the cloister (early 14th century), with its Windmills at Mas Saintes Puelles.


Gérald Garcia (1 Michelin star), an advocate of accessible cuisine, has transformed the former château de la Pomarède into a chic and majestic gastronomic restaurant. From sweetbreads and Chartreuse lobster to the use of black truffles in season, everything is designed for pleasure. The establishment also has ten tastefully decorated rooms, for a very special getaway. Château de la Pomarède. Tel.: 33 (0)4 68 60 49 69. Open every day


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Familyandnature,great valueguaranteed


trekking and cross-country skiing. There, whether alone or with a guide, the circuit opens out onto magnificent landscapes with chains of blue lakes that join up the gentle trickles of the crystalline streams at the foot of the highest peaks and are... a candidate for the “Forêt Patrimoine“ (“Heritage forest“) award. The wooded Camporells massif is dominated by the hooked pine, a rare perfume in France, called “pinegre“ (“black pine“) because of the colour of its bark. This site harbours typical mountain wildlife - the ptarmigan with white winter plumage and

1,700/2,400 m

now-shoe trekking on the Serre de Maury plateau to the listed site of the Camporells or the Formiguères resorts with their 17 downhill slopes on tree-lined mountainsides descending 700 metres from altitudes of between 2,400 and 1,700 metres. The resort and its skiable area of 65 hectares are perched 2 kilometres uphill from the village. The resort is familyfriendly, offering child-minding for toddlers and special packages and “tribe packages“ for youngsters. The slopes themselves come in varying levels, with play areas and for the more acrobatic: tobogganing, snowboard cross, a snow park and a

wood park.... The site is a partner of the Pyrénées-Orientales French Disabled Sport Federation (the others being: Pyrenees 2000, Les Angles, Porte-Puymorens, and Capcir). Some of the instructors at the ski-school are trained in disabled skiing (handiski) and have dual-skis and bi-skis as well as equipment for the visually-impaired, enabling them to transmit the pleasures of winter sports to all.

The Spot for hiking in PyrénéesOrientales Accessed by two chair lifts, the listed site of the Camporells is a peerless spot for snow-shoe

Area: 25 km of slopes. 70 snow cannons 17 downhill slopes: 1 black; 6 red; 7 blue; 3 green. Beginners’ slopes at the foot of the main slopes. 1 snow park. 1 snowboarder cross area. 1 freestyle area. 1 mogul run. 1 toboggan run. 2 chair-lifts 4 tows, 1 free rope-tow Free, marked snow-shoe paths. Piou-Piou kindergarten.

feathered fingers enabling it to walk on snow, the Pyrenean Chamois (the emblem of the Pyrenees) – cousin of the European Chamois. Meanwhile, “Great North“-style weekends are organised by professionals – set out on snow-shoes and dogsleds into virgin terrain, followed by a night in an igloo. Also accessible, in the Galbe valley next to l’étang du Diable (“Devil’s pond“), is a slab of stone featuring cave-paintings attributed to the Neolithic period – including a human form. And, for an unforgettable stay, reserve your overnight stay in the guarded mountain refuge.

An historic hamlet Formiguères, which extends over 46.9 km², has only 462 inhabitants, yet is the largest village of the Capcir. This historic capital served as the winter residence of the kings of Majorca in the 13th Century. Among the mountain dwellings with their lauze roofs, stands the wall of the pyramidal bell-tower with four bell-arches of the Sainte-Nativité-Notre-Dame church, a listed building. Built in the 11th and 12th centuries and remodelled in the 13th century, the church was integrated into the town’s defence system, designed by Peter of Aragon in the 14th century. It has a unique nave with four lateral side chapels and two sacristies; note also the wooden carving of Christ’s descent from the cross – it dates from the second half of the 12th century and is reputed to be the most beautiful work of art of the Capcir. It might well be be the missing link between the very rare French models and the groups of wooden polychromatic Spanish models.

New for 2012-2013: opening of a 10hectare freestyle zone on the north facing slopes of la Serre de Maury. Day pass: €28.50. Hourly rates from €13 Resort Information: Tél : 33 (0)4 68 04 43 75 Tourist Information Office: Tél : 33 (0)4 68 04 47 35


The “Catalan Snow Season” package lets you ski for the whole winter season at the 8 Catalan Snow resorts: Cerdagne Puigmal 2900 (closed this year), the Cambre d’Aze area, Font-Romeu, Pyrenees 2000, Formiguères, La Quillane, Les Angles, Porté Puymorens and Puyvalador. It offers several different price deals from 196€ for 6 days (172€ child/student) to 613€ (543€ child/student) for the full season. More information on:

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Aresorttosuit youreverywhim


Underground landscapes

1700/2400 m

Located above the hydro-electric dam, the village of Puyvalador appears to be keeping an eye on the flow of the river Aude. The Catalan name, spelled “Puig Valador“ in the 15th century, can be translated as “mount in the shape of a ball or pincushion“ or “watchpost mountain“. Once fortified, it now only retains a few vestiges of its former royal fortress. Its frequently altered Romanesque church, dedicated to Saint John the Baptist, houses a superb 13th century polychromatic wooden sculpture of the Madonna and Child. A mere three minutes from the village we find the Fontrabiouse cave which reveals, from chamber to chamber, a rich landscape formed by various concretions over the years – angels’ hair, tubes in the shape of organ pipes, disks, draperies, columns and, on the banks of the lake, deposits of aragonite crystals forming bouquets and a butterfly formation symbolising the cave.

Area : downhill skiing: 17 slopes - 2 black, 6 red, 5 blue, 4 green. 1 snow park. Marked snow-shoe trekking paths. Two chairlifts, 8 ski-tows. 65 snow cannons. A children’s activity centre and a ski school. Resort information: Tél : 33 (0)4 68 04 44 83.

ompared to its neighbours, the construction of the Puyvalador ski resort among the pine trees at an altitude of between 5,500 feet and 7,900 feet was relatively late – 1981. Overlooking the Capcir plateau, in the Madres massif and forming a natural border between the Aude and Pyrénées-Orientales departments, its long slopes snake towards the lake bearing its name, commanding breath-taking views along the whole valley and over the Pyrenean mountain chain. With a total length of 40 km, it boasts a range of slopes suitable for beginners to practise in a friendly atmosphere, as well as options for more experienced skiers, such as the slope at Les Lys (“The Lilies“) famous for its level of difficulty and its dizzying gradient. Although a blizzard may blow over the peak of the Ginèvre (at an altitude of 2,382 metres) making it easy to see why the region is also known as “little Siberia“, the bright sunshine enables all who visit to appreciate the beauty of the landscape with its specially marked paths and slopes for snow-shoe trekking or skiing, from which you may be able to spot the tracks of the capercaillie – the large heath-land bird, or the Bearded Vulture – Europe’s largest vulture.

The “Catalan Snow Season” package lets you ski for the whole winter season at the 8 Catalan Snow resorts: Cerdagne Puigmal 2900 (closed this year), the Cambre d’Aze area, Font-Romeu, Pyrenees 2000, Formiguères, La Quillane, Les Angles, Porté Puymorens and Puyvalador. It offers several different price deals from 196€ for 6 days (172€ child/student) to 613€ (543€ child/student) for the full season. More information on:


On virgin snow The resort lives up to its watchword of wishing to cater for all levels of winter sports. For snow-boarders and other freestylers, one of the snowboard slopes is fitted with an enormous airbag for a risk-free landing! Off-piste is not forgotten either - the marked Fontrabiouse route winds throught the pine trees, over virgin show, and takes you through the most unspoilt part of the resort. The Puyvalador lake is also a snow-shoe trekking or dogsledding destination. The lake, retained by the dam, was built after the First World War and, like the similar Matemale lake, is designed to hold back the floodwaters of the Aude. The river, whose source is in the eastern slopes of the Carlit, tends to flow in torrents as it crosses the Capcir. Further to the west near the resort of Les Angles, Bouillouses lake, fed by the Têt, is a site of outstanding natural beauty – a blue diamond set amid snow-encrusted peaks – definitely worth a detour.

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Convivialityonoroff-piste Nature and culture


1,640/2,400 m

he Cerdagne, a high plain formed by a filled-in fault between two mountains, occupies the bed of a former lake at an altitude of 1,200 metres. The landscape alternates between the sweet and pleasantly rolling fields and pastures of the wide open valleys where herds of cattle graze and the spell cast by the high mountains (the Carlit massif and the Puigmal link) darkened by dense forests. The French upper Cerdagne (the lower Cerdagne is Spanish), is generously blessed with fresh air and sun. With 300 days of sunshine per year, the area lends itself both to experiments in solar energy and as a tourist destination, especially for winter sports. Ranging between 1,600 and 2,400

in altitude, the Cambre d’Aze Area is situated where the Capcir meets the Cerdagne at the foot of the Cambre d’Aze mountain range.

United they stand Unity makes for the charm and the quality of the Cambre d’Aze area which combines the skiing areas of two villages, Eyne and Saint-Pierre-dels-Forcats. This warm and friendly ski resort emphasises its family-friendly dimension and draws together all types of winter sports within a radius of just a few kilometres. Powder snow fields, way marked trails and perfectly prepared and fully equipped ski runs are well adapted to downhill, or cross country skiing, to hiking, snowboarding or tobog-

Area: 35 km of slopes. 157 snow cannons. 21 slopes: 2 black, 7 red, 3 blue, 9 green. Two beginners’ areas. 2 toboggan runs. 1 snowboard. 1 snow park. 14 modules. Forest circuit. Snow shoe path. 1 chair-lift, 16 ski-tows, 1 conveyor, 2 ski schools ESF, ESI.

ganing. Natural snow accumulation is supplemented by a huge network of 157 snow cannons. This is a favourite site for outings on skis or snowshoes while horseback rides on snowy paths rouse other emotions. The horseshoe-shaped Cambre d’Aze pass which overlooks Saint-Pierre dels Forçats is one of the most iconic for hikers. At its summit, an unobstructed view of some of the highest Catalan peaks from Canigou, taking in the pic du Géant (‘Giant’s Peak’) and further on, Carlit. On the return journey, thrills are guaranteed along the ‘grand couloir’ (‘great corridor’) – it descends 1,000 metres alternating between on- and off-piste... wonderful to watch and exciting to do, torch-lit descents are organised throughout the season.

Inter-communal organisation for the operation of the Cambre d'Aze ski area: Tel.: 33 (0)4 68 04 08 01 www.cambre–d– Adult day pass: € 28.50 Adult half-day pass: € 24 Child* day pass: € 22 Child* half-day pass: € 18 *aged 5 to 11


Eyne and Saint-Pierre-delsForçats form part of the Catalan Regional Natural Park. The Nature Reserve of the Eyne Valley has been known to botanists since the 18th Century and its status was listed officially as a ‘nature reserve’ in 1993. The diversity of its locations fosters the presence of rare species of both plant life and wildlife with populations of Pyrenean chamois, roe deer, red deer, golden eagle, ptarmigan, and numerous raptors... The ‘Maison de la Vallée’ (‘House of the Valley’) organises visits of the botanic gardens and hikes throughout the year. The area is also known for its archaeological heritage: among the most visited are the Lou Pou dolmen – a megalithic casket dating from 2000 B.C.; the del pasquerets dolmen – a tomb placed in the centre of a tumulus; and the Basousse menhir. At Saint-Pierre-dels-Forçats, the Sant Pere church boasts a unique nave bordered by two side chapels dating from the 12th Century and houses numerous works of art ranging in date from the 16th to the 18th centuries. Among the most noteworthy is the main altarpiece.

The “Catalan Snow Season” package lets you ski for the whole winter season at the 8 Catalan Snow resorts: Cerdagne Puigmal 2900 (closed this year), the Cambre d’Aze area, Font-Romeu, Pyrenees 2000, Formiguères, La Quillane, Les Angles, Porté Puymorens and Puyvalador. It offers several different price deals from 196€ for 6 days (172€ child/student) to 613€ (543€ child/student) for the full season. More information on:

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11 AUDE 1 - Tautavel man, a nod to our ancestors

The Roussillon vineyards, which stretch out between sea and mountains, owe their reputation to their sweet fortified wines, Banyuls, Maury, and Rivesaltes, each with its own AOP. Muscat de Noël, the year's first Muscat de Rivesaltes goes on sale from the third Thursday in November to the end of January. Several wineries have this sweet wine available for tasting all year round: Domaine Boudau, Singla, de Rombeau… In the Maison du Muscat, Henri Lhéritier, writer and winemaker, finds the words to tell you about DurbanCorbières


4 - Perpignan, centre of the world!


Perpignan acquired a universal dimension when Dali made its station into the centre of the world. So you must go and see this place that caused “cosmogonical ecstasy” for the surrealist The oldest human remains found to this day Tuchan painter. But one day won't be enough in Europe were discovered in 1971 on the to see all of the Roussillon capital's site of Caune de l'Arago overlooking the Etang de sights rich in heritage, called city Tautavel valley. Since then, the Leucate of art and history. A former centre Saint-PaulTautavel museum has been devoted 2 Saint-Laurentde-Fenouillet Agly for drapers and merchants, the old 3 to this distant ancestor and places de-la-Salanque Rivesaltes town leads, via a criss-cross Latour-de-France him in a European prehistory 1 of back-streets, to the main context in 21 rooms across Canet-enSournia Saint-Estève 4 Têt5 monuments inherited from its Roussillon 2000m2. Around this, what PERPIGNAN history. The Palace of the Kings Millas Tautavel man got up to but Etang Toulouges Mer de of Majorca, transformed into a Têt also excavation techniques Canet Méditerranée citadel during the Franco-Spanish and analyses and archaeological Vinça Thuir wars, the Castillet, emblem and the collections (remnants of animal Elne PRADES Tech old main gateway through the fossils, human bones, tools…); Alet-les-Bains PYRÉNÉESArgelèswalls, Saint-Jean's cathedral with the museum gives us all the ORIENTALES sur-Mer its pebble and brick façade, the Portinformation and data collected. Vendres Campo Santo, Medieval cloisterFull-size reconstructions of scenes from cemetery, unique in France, reminding us daily life from the Caune de l’Arago site, CERET that the city was once capital of the animals and the landscape at the time let Arles“Kingdom of Majorca” from 1276 to 1344. you immerse yourself in the environment sur-Tech The residential buildings expressing the old city's of this homo erectus. Prats-deMollo-la-Preste commercial scale, which was annexed by Louis Tautavel museum. XIII in 1641, museums, plane tree shaded European Centre of Prehistory. promenades and Place de la Loge paved with Avenue Léon-Jean-Grégory. pink marble where a Venus reminds us that Tel: 33 (0)4 68 29 07 76. Open 10am the mysteries of this wine, born “between the sculptor Maillol grew up here; are all good to 12.30pm and 2-6pm. heaven and earth in the Mediterranean light.” reasons for strolling around then sitting down Rivesaltes Town Hall. Place de l’Europe. to try the local specialities: cargolade, escalivade, Tel: 33 (0)4 68 38 59 59. 2 - Military architecture Picolat meatballs, crème catalane, bunyettes, Domaine Boudeau. 6 rue Marceau. and contemporary art at rousquille… Tel: 33 (0)4 68 64 45 37. Perpignan Tourist Office. Salses le château Maison du muscat. 9, avenue Gambetta. Palais des Congrès Pink sandstone and red stone, a mix of castle and Tel: 33 (0)4 68 38 56 53. Place Armand Lanoux. modern citadel, the Salses fortress has retained Tel : 33 (0)4 68 66 30 30. the grandeur of its Medieval Spanish military Christophe Comes, architecture (1493), touched up by Vauban (1691). chef of La Galinette. 5 - Unusual vegetable Designed to house a garrison of 1500 men, it had a hydraulic system fed by three springs. The dinner at La Galinette artillery tower offers a revealing view of this royal Finish your day on a high at Christophe Comes' Spanish sentinel's strategic position. Nowadays, La Galinette restaurant. Hesitating about his there are works of contemporary art standing up career, his father told him “you'll be a chef or against its impressive defensive system a gardener.” In the end, he's both as the starred 15 metre thick walls, moats, arrow slits, corner chef, passionate about rare vegetables, grows towers, a keep with several gun rooms - during his own vegetables in an allotment where there temporary exhibitions organised by the National are one thousand varieties of fruit and veg! Monument Centre. La Galinette, 23 rue Jean Payra in Perpignan. Salses Fortress. Tel: 33 (0)4 68 38 60 13. Tel: 33 (0)4 68 35 00 90. Open 10am to 12.15 and 2-5pm from 1st October to 31 March. 70 D.

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Aresort at the top


fter doubling the number of slopes (15 in 1998, 30 today) and installing 15 kilometres of slopes using artificial snow, the resort of Puigmal, created in 1974, is now home to the highest skiable area in the Pyrenees. At an altitude of between 1,800 and 2,700 metres, the resort has spared no effort to satisfy the expectations of an ever-increasing number of winter-sports enthusiasts – all this while still respecting the natural environment. It offers a total surface area of 320 hectares, of which 80 are off-piste. Making the most of its forests and open spaces, the resort has gone allout to cater for a wide-range of

sliding sports. Each zone has its own dedicated sport – free ride, snowboard-cross, moguls, snow park, ski-school, panoramic and slalom runs, and, for each of these, there are appropriate levels from beginner to expert. Half-way between free ride and freestyle is the wood park, with its five nature routes through the forest: increasing the various options to try out the ski-jumps and moguls. The resort is also famed for the expanse of its free ride area which spreads out in a circle from the summit of the slopes at some 2,665 metres and offers a plethora of slopes and drops. In fact, every March the Puigmal Derby takes place here - the Pyrenean stage of the Derby Trophy.

A hot bath in the snow

The Puigmal d’Err, at 2,910 metres, is the second highest summit in the Pyrénées-Orientales. Historically, the area was crisscrossed with rural paths. A professional accompanies you along this great classic of cross-country ski-routes. From the summit, your gaze is drawn across the Cerdagne and the Spanish Sierra right over to the Montserrat massif to the north of Barcelona. 12 km of artificial snow ski-runs. Resort information: Tél : 33 (0)4 68 04 70 15 et 33 (0)4 68 04 72 94





01 -20 3



Area: downhill skiing, 30 ski runs: 6 black, 14 red, 5 blue (1- 9 km), 5 green, 2 snowboard cross tracks, 1 snow park, 1 wood park. Beginners’ area at the foot of the pistes. Ski school. Children’s area for those aged 3 and over. Ski-lifts: 8 ski-tows; 2 chair lifts; 2 teleropes, 1 rope tow. ISO Certification 9001 V2000. Picnic rooms.

Even higher


1,800/2,900 m

Fancy admiring the ridge of snow-capped mountains of the Canigou over to the Sierra del Caldi from an altitude of 1,450 metres (4,750 feet) while luxuriously bathing in a pool of water naturally heated to 38°C (100°F)? Yes, it’s possible! And a long session is an ideal way to round off a day of skiing or hiking. The outdoor pools carved out of the granite from the Dorres are supplied with warm sulphurous waters which seep from the rock at 41°C (106°F). In bygone days, the waters were believed to have curative properties against aches and pains. Everyone can appreciate a moment of relaxation like this, an unusual way of unwinding. In the village, one of the chapels of Saint Jean’s Church is dedicated to an enigmatic black virgin. The Pyrenean region contains a cache of important Roman statues which are occasionally interpreted as representations of ancient goddess mothers.

In the foothills, surrounded by an amphitheatre of high peaks at an altitude of around 3,000 metres is the Nuria Valley whose eponymous river finds it source at the sides of the Puigmal. Cradle of the sanctuary of the virgin of Nuria, a pilgrim shrine, its new church, erected at the start of the 20th century, houses a Roman-style wooden sculpture of the Virgin, seen as the patron of fertility. The “Catalan Snow Season” package lets you ski for the whole winter season at the 8 Catalan Snow resorts: Cerdagne Puigmal 2900 (closed this year), the Cambre d’Aze area, Font-Romeu, Pyrenees 2000, Formiguères, La Quillane, Les Angles, Porté Puymorens and Puyvalador. It offers several different price deals from 196€ for 6 days (172€ child/student) to 613€ (543€ child/student) for the full season. More information on:

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The resort deepin thesouth witha tasteof theNorth


naugurated in 1936, PortéPuymorens was one of the very first resorts established in Pyrénées-Orientales and is now also one of the sportiest. Guarded by the Cerdagne tower, of which only some ruins remain on a rocky outcrop, the village, the heart of the resort, faces southwards, at the start of the Carol valley, whose entrance it once formerly guarded. The slopes climb from an altitude of 2,500 metres soaring upwards to flirt with the Pic de la Mine (‘Mine Peak’) and the Estavol peak, so that for some of them, there is a descent of 900 metres – some of the longest in the Pyrenees. The area is divided into three main sectors: La Mine – a

panoramic area; Fontfrède – threaded around the Coulée, one of the longest slopes in the Catalan Pyrenees and Baladra – for

By hill and by dale

1,600/2,500 m

Where France, Spain and Andorra meet, Porté-Puymorens is located at the entrance to the Catalan Pyrenees Regional Natural Park and the landscapes which surround its forests of pine trees and glacial lakes, are a sheer delight. The exit from the Puymorens tunnel is topped by a cascade of light due to its polychromatic glass sculpture. From here the narrow glacial Carol valley extends towards Bourg-Madame. Along the way, you’ll find traditional villages with their slate roofs: Ur and the Saint Martin church – a listed historical building, Enveitg and LatourCarol – the terminus of the Yellow Train line. Of the castle and the hamlet of Carol itself, which defended the narrow valley, there remain only two ruined towers, standing on a rocky outcrop near the torrent. A little further on, climbing the route of the Yellow Train, the village of Saillagouse gives itself over to other pleasures, providing a museum dedicated to Cerdagne charcuterie.

Area: 45 km (28 miles) of slopes. 70 snow cannons. 21 slopes: 4 black, 3 red, 7 blue, 7 green. 6 cross-country ski circuits. Snow park + 600 metre (1,970 feet) Half Pipe. 1 Mogul run recognised by the French National Team. Snow-shoe trekking paths. 4 chair lifts, 8 ski-tows, 1 “Bambi” tow-rope.

free riding with wide open spaces. From the Puymorens pass – at an altitude of 1,915 metres– it is possible to try cross-country skiing at altitude as well as through forests, unless you’d rather have a go at take-off with the snow kiting school. The latest winter sports are also catered for with facilities for freestylers, a 600 metre-long-snow park and a half-pipe.

White acrobatics A mogul run officially recognised by the French National Team held the French Mogul Skiing Cup Competition here in 2011. It is open to experienced exponents of this spectacular discipline, combining breath-taking speed and jump techniques whether or 1 ESF Ski-school. Night time skiing every Saturday until 8pm. Resort information: Tél : 33 (0)4 68 04 82 41 www.porté


not they dream of following in the tracks of Silvan Palazo, the 2006 French champion – a native of nearby Latour-de-Carol. PortéPuymorens also acts as a magnet to free-riders because of the variety of the numerous corridors, perfect both for those starting out on sleep slopes and for those wishing to hone their skills – such as the Baillettes crest with its slopes varying between 40° and 50°. The wide range of snow corridors and spouts of the Baillettes Peak and the Vignolles are also used to learn the techniques of another sport – mountaineering. Also in the Porté-Puymorens valley, in the company of professionals, attempts can be made to climb frozen waterfalls, superb watercourses frozen onto the mountainsides. The “Catalan Snow Season” package lets you ski for the whole winter season at the 8 Catalan Snow resorts: Cerdagne Puigmal 2900 (closed this year), the Cambre d’Aze area, Font-Romeu, Pyrenees 2000, Formiguères, La Quillane, Les Angles, Porté Puymorens and Puyvalador. It offers several different price deals from 196€ for 6 days (172€ child/student) to 613€ (543€ child/student) for the full season. More information on:

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Snowandsun on theagenda


1,700/2,200 m

he granite steps which lead up to FontRomeu’s Grand Hotel have been climbed by rich celebrities in search of fresh air and leisure. Although today this palace is listed on the nation’s inventory of listed buildings and has since been converted into a private residence, the resort which rises in terraces some 1,800 metres above the Cerdagne plateau has remained unspoilt. Sun (over 3,000 hours-a-year), fresh air, and snow – natural and artificial – are all on the agenda. To revitalise its aura, the town is now home to the National Altitude Training Centre and is equipped with an Olympic skating rink, used by high-level sportsmen. Voted 'most sporting town in France' in 2009, it obtained (and kept) the “Family Plus” label by installing, in addition to childcare centres for young children, a recreational area intended to be the largest in the Pyrenees. That’s 20 hectares re-

served for winter sporting fun on themed slopes, in the company of Pyrenean animals or following in the tracks of the Inuit. Learn how to ski while having fun at the same time! Alongside the traditional luge run, there are hoops, tunnels, boards, meeting the young freestyler’s every need!

Satisfying as many as possible Font-Romeu Pyrenees 2000 emerged when the ski-slopes of two communities, Font-Romeu and Bolquère, were amalgamated. The two sectors linked by chair lifts boast 43 downhill ski slopes including the famous “Record” – a black run descending 415 metres with many bends, compressions and schuss; it is used for giant slalom competitions. No fewer than 500 snow cannons monitor the snowfall on the skiable surfaces. For cross-country skiers there are 111 kilometres of ski

Area: 59 km (36 miles) of Alpine skiing on 43 slopes 9 black, 9 red, 10 blue, 15 green. 111 km of cross-country trails 1 snow park. 1 kids park. Snow garden ESF (3 years old and above). Child minding. Ski school. 9 chair lifts, 13 ski tows. 1 ski tow, 1 conveyor, 1 cable car. Resort information: 500 snow cannons

trails and marked routes between the vast “La Calme” (“The Quiet”) plateau, and the forests of “Estanyols” and “Farneils”. In addition, following on from the “Martin Fourcade” cross-country ski area, created with artificial snow two years ago in the La Calme Sud area, this year the resort also has a biathlon stadium in honour of the world champion in the discipline (it can also be used in summer)'. On the pleasantly tree-lined slopes of La Calme is a snow park with moguls and modules. Trekking on snow-shoes with or without a guide offers something to suit every character – whether contemplative or sporty – by day and night! In addition to snow kiting and other paragliding activities, there’s the snow scoot, a cross between a BMX and a snowboard, and finally a sort of snow bike for acrobatic or more leisurely moves – the Quad-Mountain bike – an all-terrain quad for the snow!

Day pass: € 35 Cross-country ski pass: € 9.50 Short day scheme with four hours' skiing: € 31.50 Tourist Office: Tel.: 33 (0)4 68 30 68 30 and 33 (0)4 68 30 12 42


Right in the sun Font-Romeu means “Pilgrims’ fountain”, a name given to the area in 1957 after merging the two villages of Via and Odeillo. The origin of this is the chapelle de l’Ermitage (‘Hermitage Chapel’) which was built over a fountain. Located along the Way of Saint James, it is a UNESCO World Heritage site and contains baroque works by one of the great Catalan artists, Joseph Sunyer and a number of ex-votos (votive offerings). Some 9,130 mirrors make up the 1,830 m² parabolic reflector of the solar furnace at Odeillo – definitely worth a visit. This laboratory run by the CNRS (the French national scientific research council), which took over from the experimental furnace at Mont-Louis in 1968, was involved in the search for alternative energy sources at the time of the first oil crisis. The choice of nuclear power put an end to these experiments. These days it concentrates on fundamental research, studying the behaviour of different materials at high temperatures.

The “Catalan Snow Season” package lets you ski for the whole winter season at the 8 Catalan Snow resorts: Cerdagne Puigmal 2900 (closed this year), the Cambre d’Aze area, Font-Romeu, Pyrenees 2000, Formiguères, La Quillane, Les Angles, Porté Puymorens and Puyvalador. It offers several different price deals from 196€ for 6 days (172€ child/student) to 613€ (543€ child/student) for the full season. More information on:

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Forsports andnaturelovers Bison at the Sainte-Eulalie Reserve


1,418/1,485 m

n Lozère, to the north of Mende, between the Aubrac and Allier rivers, at an altitude of 1,400 metres, the Margeride offers huge expanses of pasture, heaths of broom and heather, dotted here and there with large round boulders, interrupted by pine and beech forests and crossed by turbulent streams. A sort of world’s end where earth and sky seem conjoined in an eternal dialogue. An ideal environment for the family to admire nature’s beauty while at the same time indulging in crosscountry skiing or snow-shoe trekking. Located in the commune of Saint-Denis en Margeride, the re-

sort of Les Bouviers-Grandrieu is renowned for its cross-country skiing facilities which offer, at the heart of its beech and spruce forests, thirty kilometres of traditional trails and skating for different skill levels at an average altitude of 1,400 metres. Two snow-shoe trails, taking nature as their theme (7 or 11 km) might lead you to witness the footprints of the mythical Beast of Gévaudan, or to the edge of the European bison reserve, or in the footsteps of the pilgrims heading for Santiago de Compostela..... before taking you back to the chalet village. There is also an area reserved for youngsters to indulge in with winter sports.

Area: Cross-country skiing, green runs (3 km and 4 km), blue (6 km), red (8.7km), black (10 km). The resort offers four types of individual and group accommodation, gites, flats, chalets... Resort information: Tél : 33 (0)4 66 47 41 54

The European Bison is more slender than its American cousin, although the fact remains that it is still Europe’s largest terrestrial mammal. Weighing in at one tonne and measuring 2 metres at the shoulder, “Bison Bonasus”, a survivor from Prehistoric times, could only be found living naturally in Poland and the Caucasus at the end of the18th century. Faced with the alarming drop in numbers, a Polish Zoologist, Yan Sztolcman, made an urgent appeal at the “International Congress for Protection of Nature” in 1923. His plan to safeguard the bison in the Bialowieza Forest was adopted and just in time too! Only thirteen bison make up the gene pool of all current European Bison. La Margeride was selected as part of move to diversify the centres of reproduction for reasons of security. Long ago, it was part of the lands populated by European Bison and therefore possessed all the criteria to guarantee success. This animal which lives in the forest and grazes on grass but also branches, leaves and


tree bark, acclimatised well to the western plateau of la Margeride where the hooves of the first batch of six males and three females first touched the soil in 1991. The museum area at the Sainte Eulalie Reserve provides information using a variety of media supports on the origins and the way of life of the European Bison. A reconstruction of a Prehistoric cave also tells its story. Viewing areas set out over a 1km trail enable visitors to meet, on foot, some European and American Bison. The hour-long visit is set in nearly 200 hectares of pasture and forest and it is here in this magical atmosphere, with the sledge skimming through the snow, admiring the wonderful winter landscapes of la Margeride that you really get the greatest pleasure watching the herds with the addition of some baby bison born in spring 2012. So cute! European Bison Reserve, 48120 Sainte-Eulalie en Margeride. Tel: 33 (0)4 66 31 40 40.

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Among the trappers south of the Margeride


o the south of the Margeride, the resort of Laubert‑Plateau du Roy boasts a huge cross-country skiing area spreading over 10,000 hectares of meadows and national forests. The cross-country trails both traditional and skating, extend over 60 kilometres and are split into two sectors that wend their way through descents of between altitudes of 1,200 and 1,450 metres on the Palais du Roy plateau from the village of Laubert. They lead to the banks of Charpal lake, the reservoir retained by the dam and surrounded by woods. There is plenty of choice for

Siberia for the Huskies

snow-shoe trekkers either offpiste or by taking one of the Charpal site’s four marked

From Les Aurochs to Du Guesclin

1,200/1,450 m

On days of light snowfall, when you have had your fill of fresh air or are exhausted by the sheer effort, and a little respite is all you dream of, the area around the resort offers the perfect opportunity to commune with nature. The reserve at Sainte Lucie, some fifty kilometres from the resort, invites you to share the company of wolves. A surprising challenge to the ravages of time has been mounted in the hamlet of Giraldès where they have reforged their links to the Auroch – an ancestor of the domestic cattle breed. This bovine was hunted to extinction by Neanderthal man only to be recently resurrected through a succession of crosses between rustic breeds! The sacred art museum in Chastagnier houses a collection of priestly vestments and other religious objects. The mill at Les Calquières traces the history of wool-production in the Gévaudan. The Du Guesclin museum at Chateauneuf de Randon celebrates the eponymous constable who was charged with ridding the town of English domination. Plenty of opportunities to explore the history of the area and its inhabitants thus await the visitor.

Area: Cross-country skiing, 60 km of marked, secure trails split into two sectors. The Charpal sector has 6 trails. On the Laubert sector, snowfall permitting, 3 trails: blue, red, black. Depending on snowfall 20 km of trails link the two sites. Snow-shoe trekking, 25 km of marked paths – 3 paths: green, blue,

paths. You will feel like a trapper when faced with the immensity of this landscape, which evokes the wilds of the Canadian north. The impression will be even stronger when you visit the European bison reserve at Sainte Eulalie!

red on the Charpal – 3 paths: green, blue, red on the Laubert and two toboggan runs. The dogsled trails are unmarked but are available upon request. A ski school. The site is certified “Cross-Country Skiing of France”. Resort information: Domaine de Laubert Tél : 33 (0)4 66 47 79 30


Each February, a national dog sled race is held in the resort. The “Lozerienne” course takes in much of Margeride and the plateau du Roy and leads runners close to the Charpal lake and the “Truc de Fortunio”. About fifty teams of between one and twelve dogs run the course of approximately 40 kilometres. The teams leave the starting point at two-minute intervals - for the first leg their order is determined by a draw and for subsequent legs it is determined by race rankings. This superb and unusual competition attracts over 300 cross-country sled dogs under the instructions of their mushers. Side-shows and activities take place during the races including dogsled initiation sessions or more sedate outings in horse-drawn traps.

Tourist Information Office Châteauneuf-de-Randon : Tél : 33 (0)4 66 47 99 52 Tourist Information : Mende Cœur de Lozère District Tourist Office. Tél : 33 (0)4 66 94 00 23

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Thevast, virginwhitesnows Quite another story

T 1,400/1,610 m

he Cévennes National Park was recently inscribed as a UNESCO World Heritage site. The resort of Le Bleymard - Mont Lozère is at the heart of the park on the northern slopes of Mount Lozère and is just a stone’s throw from Finiels – a hamlet perched at the summit. The resort is dedicated to winter sports and exploratory tourism. From 1,400 metre to 1,610 metres in altitude, it spreads its skiable surfaces between Alpine skiing to the north and cross-country to the south. It is one of only two resorts in the Cévennes (l’Aigoual being the other) to offer Alpine skiing.

There are seven runs laid out for skiers and snowboarders of all abilities and the slopes are accessed by five lifts. From the Finiels pass, five cross-country trails lead to the wide open spaces of the “strange, bare massif dotted with a chaos of rounded boulders of granite and punctuated with springs...” from Robert Louis Stevenson’s “Travels with a donkey in the Cévennes”.

Boards and Sails “Mt Lo Park” is the name given to the snow park which opened its doors in winter 2012. Equipped with a line of three

Area: Alpine skiing: 7 slopes: 1 black; 3 red; 1 blue; 2 green Cross-country: 1 green (2.9km), 2 blue (4.8km), 2 red (10.4km) Snow-shoe paths: red (5km); blue (2.5km) Toboggan area. Snow park.

rails, from beginner to expert, and an air-line with four kickers giving made-to-measure takeoffs of between 3 and 12 metres. The banked turns, super loops, moguls and triples will be irresistible. All abilities will be catered for (children, beginners, snow boarders, kings of the slopes). Don’t miss the “CrossBoss” – the latest thing on the Prat Nau red run. The resort hosts independent activities, schools from the French ski federation from Génolhac and Villefort, introductions to dogsledding, and snowkiting from the Finiels pass with the Lozère paragliding club.

Resort Information Bleymard-Mont Lozère : Tél : 33 (0)4 66 48 66 48.


Within just a few minutes, Mount Lozère is quite capable of enveloping itself in dense fog and vortices of snow, cutting off its villages. The storm bells lined along the mountainsides of the Lozère at Fage, Serviès, Auriac and Les Sagneswere have been put there to aid the stray traveller as a lighthouse aids a sailor. These granite edifices were built near the communal bread oven, each topped by a single bell which still chimes to this day as a reminder of the village life of yesteryear and the rigours of the climate! In such icy conditions, the thermal spa town of Bagnols with its baths is temptingly cosy! The waters gush out of the mountain at a steady 41°C and are a cure for aches and pains. Known of since Roman times, the benefits can equally be prescribed for rheumatics and the airways. Built as an amphitheatre right up to the banks of the Lot, the establishment has a separate area for relaxing stays. There are swimming pools, hammams, a sensory area (mood music and plant essence fragrances), showers, massage...

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Intoxicated by thegreat outdoors


he symbol of the department to which it has given its name, Mount Lozere – whose highest point, the Finiels Peak, is in the Cévennes – extends its long plateau of moorland and grassland. The landscape’s only vertical elements are the chaotic blocks of granite, balanced in precarious and spectacular ways. These summits rounded by erosion form a succession of rolling undulations which descend into gentle wooded slopes; except at the dramatic eastern edges with its 1,000 metre plunge towards Génolhac and the Villefor fault. The diversity of its landscape, its plant life and wildlife, makes this granite massif worthy of inclusion inside the perimeter of the Cévennes National Park. In winter, Mount Lozère takes on a magical aspect, with its waterfalls, murmuring snow-dusted rivers and its trees glistening

Mountain views

under the frost. At the eastern end of the Mount Lozère massif at the foot of the Cassini peak (1,680 metres), the Mas de la Barque resort stands in an unspoilt natural setting. At an altitude of 1,420 metres, the resort, in winter, is dedicated to crosscountry activities. The information point for the National Park and the gîte-village were built in an architectural style that re-

Art and history

1,340/1,650 m

The “Maison du Parc National des Cévennes” (“Cévennes National Park House”) in Génolhac has information and leaflets on the history of the Cévennes: the war of the Camisards (opposing Protestants and the king’s soldiers) of which the headquarters was in the Cevennes. Vialas, a nearby village, guards the memory of these events and is home to a temple built in 1612 and the cave of the Camisards of Tourières. More playful, the dale of Villaret offers both discovery games and art in a verdant valley. How could you deprive your children of this pleasure!

Area: Cross-country ski trails: Green 2.3km; blue 6.2 km; red 8.7 and 10.2 km Ski hikes, marked route to the Tarn 14 km Snow-shoe trekking path: green 0.8 km; blue 3 km; red 6.5 km

spects the tradition of the Cévennes using granite walls and slate roofs – showing a harmony with nature. The 28 kilometres of cross-country ski trails start off from the Mas de la Barque and meander between the pines and other conifers in the national forest. In the family-friendly recreational resort of Mas de la Barque, you can try “geocaching”; this involves using global positioning systems (GPS) to find a “geocache”, in this case along a 2.7 km nature discovery trail, with some 15 caches in enchanting places, often with no access path, but amidst breathtaking landscapes. This is an enjoyable and novel way of improving your knowledge of the flora, fauna, geology and heritage of Mont Lozère.

Tobogganing stadium 10,000m² freely accessible Dog sledding teams. Resort information: Tél : 33 (0)4 66 46 92 72.


Villefort Tourist Information Office: 33 (0)4 66 46 87 30 Génolhac Tourist Information Office: 33(0)4 66 61 18 32

Lovers of the great outdoors will find a true taste of adventure here. Two marked trails are offered: one, the shorter, stays within the forest while the other escapes over the Tête de boeuf (“Cow’s head”) crest, the pass and the eagle rock, finally reaching the Cassini peak. In addition to the natural beauty of the surrounding landscape, in fine weather there is a view over to Mont Blanc, Mont Ventoux, Mont Canigou, the Mediterranean, the Tanargue massif, Sancy… Daredevils can continue their trek towards the source of the Tarn, crossing beautiful hamlets and farms built on the mountainside out of large carved granite stones: Mas Camargue, l’Hôpital, Bellecoste… Fine weather expeditions can be undertaken with a compass, a map and a good sense of direction or you can take a guided snow-shoe trek. Dogsledding is another option – either as an introduction or half- or full-day outings driving a dog team, a trip can even be arranged over several days, led by professionals.

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PAB Museum.

Anduze, the southern gate to the Cevennes, is a welcoming city, with many restaurant terraces on its main street and winding mediaeval lanes. The 14th century Clock Tower is the only trace of the ramparts which protected this military centre and bastion of Protestantism. In the centre of the covered square which houses the market, a curious 'Pagoda Fountain', a listed Historic Monument, shows off its colourful and varnished rounded tiles. Sitting imposingly onthe square is the temple, one of the largest in France, which regularly stages concerts performed on an organ built in 1850 and restored and extended in 1960.

The Maison Rouge.

4 - From the château to the Maison Rouge in Saint-Jean du Gard


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On the road to Anduze, a number of potteries bring to mind an ancient 17th century tradition which resulted in the famous Florentine-inspired vase which bears the name of the town and can be recognised by its garlands and circular decorations in honey, olive green and brown.


2 - Strolling around Anduze

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Rochebelle district. Free. Tel.: 33 (0)4 66 86 98 69. Open every day from 2 pm to 6 pm.



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Olive tree, vines, chestnut trees and silk worms have created the wealth of this commercial 1 - In the countryside Protestant town. The château, the residence of the in the capital of the Lords of Saint-Jean, has links to the Religious Wars D. 901 Cevennes Les Vans in Cevennes; visitors can see a dozen rooms D. 90 furnished in period style and adorned with a 1 Alès, located approximately two hours from the number of4 art collections. The Museum of Cevennes 5 Cevennes ski resorts, is the capital of one of 10 Le PontValleys, located in a former 17th century animal D. the gateways to the Cevennes. It extends Génolhac de-Montvert feeding post, also evokes this period along the River Gardon and its many of history, but is more widely dedicated to flower bedsand massifs; its four large Dthe . 90 men who built this region, its history, FLORAC 1 D. 998 parks have earned it the title of one its culture and its traditional way of life. of the most beautiful “towns Bessèges The Maison Rouge, an industrial in bloom”. Even the slag heaps N. 10 6 complex typical of large Cevennes D. are covered in green in this former 9 D. 06 983 mills, has exceptional architectural Barre-desmining town. As you stroll along D. 51 and ornamental features and Cévennes the streets, you will discover Saint-GermainD. reveals the importance of the silk Saint-Jean-Baptiste cathedral, La Grand'37 farming which made the region rich GARD de-Calberte D. a surprising combination of Combe 98 4 for a period. It will soon house D .9 the Romanesque and Gothic styles D. 98 the Museum of Cevennes Identity. 3 and the Vauban fort, a citadel built Château: entrance € 6. in the style of Vauban following the Saint-André2, Place de la Révolution. 1 6 Revocation of the Edict of Nantes. D. de-Valborgne ALES D. Tel.: 33 (0)4 66 85 03 41. 3 98 Cross the River Gardon to visit the D. 907 3 Museum of Cevennes Valleys. Pierre-André Benoît Museum, named D. 981 95 Grand rue. From 1st November 4 Saint-Jeanafter the art printer and friend of the du-Gard 0 to 31st March, open on Tuesdays and 91 great painters, who donated partD.of his D. D. 986 39 D. Thursdays from 9 am to 12 pm and from 90 private collection to the town of his birth. Anduze 7 2Vézénobres pm to 6 pm and on Sundays 2 G Valleraugue Lasalle Works by Picabia, Miro, Braque, Alechinsky ard from 2 pm to 6 pm. and Dubuffet and almost 450 artists’ books are D. 982 Tel.: 33 (0)4 66 85 10 48. Maison Rouge. on display in the former château de Rochebelle. D. 90 7 5, rue de l’Industrie, Saint-Jean-du-Gard. PAB Museum, Rue de Brouzen, 82

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3 - In the footsteps of the Huguenots As we travel through the Mialet Valley, the Mas Soubeyran reminds us that we are in Huguenot territory. The Desert Museum, located in the house in which the Camisard Chief Rolland was born, reveals a painful chapter in the history of Protestantism in the Cevennes. The former shelter of the Camisards during the Religious War, the Trabuc Cave with its lagoon-coloured lake, its alabaster pearls and its waterfalls is famous throughout the world for its 'Hundred Thousand Soldiers', a phenomenon science has not yet explained. Further on, the three superb stone arches of the Camisards' Bridge (17th century) straddle the River Gardon, while the only arch of the Abarides Bridge offers a superb view of the river. Desert Museum. Open from 1st March to 30th November. Tel.: 33 (0)4 66 85 02 72. Trabuc Cave. Mialet. Tel.: 33 (0)4 66 85 03 28. In December and January, booking required for groups. SUDDEFRANCE - 27 -

5 - Road-movie on the Corniche des Cevennes To climb up to the resorts of Lozère, you can take the Vallée Française, one of the most attractive in the Cevennes, with its verdant slopes covered in chestnut groves dotted with traditional shale villages. The splendid village of Pont de Montvert, on either side of the River Tarn, marks the start of the granite massif of Mont Lozère and the Bougès Mountain. You can continue along the secondary road perched on the Corniche des Cevennes, which offers breath-taking landscapes of overlying mountains and valleys as far as the eye can see. You then arrive in Florac, home to the administrative seat of Cevennes National Park, located in the château of the Lords of Florac. Nearby, the many waterfalls of the source of the Pesquier surge down a great limestone scree. Museum of Mont Lozère, Pont de Montvert. Tel.: 33 (0)4 66 45 80 73. Cevennes National Park, 6 Place du Palais, Florac. Tel.: 33 (0)4 66 49 53 00.

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Snow-kiting oncowpastures


he monolith of Aubrac, huge, almost shapeless crosses of basalt rock with outlines of very short arms and legs planted askew a simple heap of lava rocks, seem to create a union between the megalithic and Christian worlds.“ With these few words, poet and writer Julien Gracq, also a geographer, captures the sheer bulk and intensity of Aubrac. The mid-mountain plateau seems cut off from the world with its desolate, windswept peaks, which reach an altitude of 1,400 metres between the Truyère and Lot valleys. This nomadic territory, where Aubrac cows peacefully graze in summer and the vast stretches of grasslands are scattered with

blocks of granite and shepherds’ huts (traditionally, these bunkers are where they made their cheese) is transformed into skiable terrain in the winter. This mid-mountain zone with its harsh climate is covered in a thick layer of snow. Ideal for winter sports! The ski station is situated in the

A glacial footprint

1,200/1,450 m

The marker indicating by the “Signal de Mailhebiau” causes false readings on a compass because this giant basalt stone from the Tertiary period has retained its magnetism. On Aubrac’s volcanic plateaus, in a fold caused by erosion, lie four glacial lakes whose true depths and amazing colourful reflections are less easy to appreciate in the winter months when frozen over. Neither the cold nor the ice can stop the Déroc waterfall, an overspill from Salhens lake which plunges forcefully over the top of a basalt cliff, 33 metres high. Stand in awe, whatever the season!


Area: cross-country trails, 35 km, marked and secured, alternate routes and skating. Green 4.5 km, blue 6 km, red, 8 km, black 10 km. Sledding zone with instructors and a beginners’ slope. Snow-shoe trekking excursions: 3 km, 6 km, 8 km. Marked and secured. 1 toboggan run, 1 nursery slope, a Nordic (ski and snowshoe trail), a walking trail, 2 snowshoe trails.

Bonnecombe pass, a cattle trail leading to the southern area of the Aubrac mountains, the highest on the plateau. The Espace Nordique Aubrac Sud (South Aubrac’s Cross-country Skiiing Area) brings together 40 km of cross-country ski slopes between 1,200 m and 1,450 m in altitude. The trails snake through the Baronte forest, circle the Bonnecombe pond and skirt the Signal de Mailhebiau, Aubrac’s highest peak at 1,469 m. They venture onto higher pastures with unbeatable views of Lot, the Canta mountains, the chaîne des Puys (a chain of cinder cones and lava domes), Margeride, the Great Causses… the ski resort is ideal for beginners, big or small, and has its own ski school and sledding zone with instructors and a slope.

In January, the ski resort holds and takes part in the “Snowshoe Day” as well as night time outings. These activities are supervised by trained mountain guides. Information: Aubrac Sud Lozère - Bonnecombe : Tél : 33(0)4 66 32 39 53

Closer to the clouds Situated in the municipalities of Les Salces and Les Hermaux, the Bonnecombe pass is, the central point in the Aubrac Sud Nordic sports complex. A biologically diverse protected zone, it is the scene in may of one of the region’s most authentic folk festivals celebrating transhumance. The Bonnecombe pass is, along with that of Aubrac, one of the main departure points for snow-kiting. Used in the early 2000s by a few rare snow-kiters, the number of enthusiasts of this totally wild sport is increasing every winter. Accessible to beginners, the site is split into 3 zones, requiring varying degrees of skill; one of these zones leads to Signal de Mailhebiau and then, from that summit to a vast, isolated, open space, measuring 50 hectares where you can roam free with the wind in your sails! The site is registered with the French Federation of Free Flight and has an accredited school on site.

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Nature,well being,family: a winning combination


ituated 3 kilometres from the village of Nasbinals, at an altitude of 1,200 metres, the site of Fer à Cheval (“The Horse Shoe”), is designed for summer activities, and then transformed towards the end of the year for winter sports. The cross-country skiing area of 35 kilometres is part of Greater Aubrac’s Skiing Zone which groups together 5 ski resorts, Aumont-Aubrac, Brameloup, Laguiole, Nasbinals and Saint Urcize over three departments: Lozère, Cantal, and Aveyron, making a total of 250 kilometres of marked, snowpacked slopes. The site offers 35 kilometres of classic cross-countryskiing trails and skating runs, a very physical spin-off of crosscountry skiing. Three slopes of varying difficulty provide a beautiful and experimental space to experience the skills and techniques of Alpine skiing. The snow-show trekking paths, cross country ski trails and dog-sledding trails offer a real opportunity for the whole family to indulge in the joys of a white winter, close to nature, crossing forests and plateaus, inhabited by deer and squirrels, white eagles and peregrine falcons, far from the hustle and bustle of some of the trendier resorts!

Your every wish fulfilled!

1,200 meters

Because winter holidays are not just all about sport, there are two

well-being centres in Nasbinals and the surrounding area which provide much needed comfort after your exertions. The Chaldette resort, has white arches with wooden and glass walls stretching right out to the banks of the river Bès. Bathed in light, opening out in harmony with the surrounding scenery, the structure symbolises the successful blending of hydrotherapy and green (or white!) tourism and of health and well-being. There’s good quality air at an altitude of 1000 m and good quality water, naturally flowing at 35°C and recommended for the treatment of digestive and metabolic problems… The resort places its emphasis on modern hydrotherapy, which like traditional water cures offers treatment packages lasting from half a day to a week but with the added benefit of a swimming pool, sun tanning studio,

Area: Cross-country ski trails – classical and skating: green (1.5 km), blue (3.5 km), red (8.5 km). Links: 13 km. Alpine skiing: 3 blue slopes (runs). Snow-shoe trekking: 2 paths of 4 km. Cross country treks: 15 km. Dog-sledding trails: 10 km of dedicated tracks. 1 ski lift.

gym, relaxation space, sauna, hammam, bubble baths, massages, tonic or relaxing showers… A little further away, in Saint-Chely d’Apcher, the Spa in Aubrac, with its own supply of spring water is more rustic in design with a logo portraying the famous Aubrac cows, and offers sophisticated treatments such as balneotherapy with essential oils, hammams, a 100 m2 swimming pool heated with a wood burner to 30°C and a Jacuzzi, etc.

Day passes: €8 -15. Information: Station Nasbinals Fer à Cheval : Tél : 33 (0)4 66 32 56 17 Nasbinals Tourist Information Office: Tél : 33 (0)4 66 32 50 17


Fiction and reality The Nasbinals Roman church (dating from the 11th and 12th centuries and modified in the 15th century) was renowned on the Way of Saint James because of its number of beds. This priory, which belonged to the monks of Saint-Victor de Marseille, became a welcome, but unexpected resting place for the pilgrims before crossing the Aubrac plateau, often made perilous by bad weather conditions. In the centre of the village, the huge edifice of the church with its brown basalt walls topped with slate roofs evokes a reassuring sensation of non-threatening power. Since the railways of Compestello were inscribed as a UNESCO World Heritage Site, the Podiensis way which starts at Puy-en-Velay and crosses a large area of Aubrac has enjoyed a new wave of interest. These landscapes were used as the setting for Coline Serreau’s comedy film, «Saint-Jacques–laMecque ».

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1440 mètres

amous for the exceptional panoramic view from its summit, the resort of Mont Aigoual is highly appreciated by Alpine skiers within the region. Could this be due to the plant life, which in certain ways resembles that of the Alps at around an altitude of around 2,000 to 2,400 metres? Or could it be caused by the extreme climate, the centre of the weather front between the oceanic air and that of the Mediterranean? It is more probable that it is the mighty slopes which beat a path through chestnut trees, beech groves, spruces and fir trees that are the real strength of this exceptional Gard ski resort. Situated at 1,440 m in the Prat Peyrot pass, in the commune of

Valleraugue, in the southern Cévennes, the resort offers downhill slopes equipped for skating, for all levels, accessible by 13 ski lifts, both mechanical and electric, and, if needed, 85 snow canons. The joy of the slopes accompanies the beauty of the peaks from which you can look onto other summits, Mont Lozère, the Great Causses, and when the weather is clear, further away and higher up, Mont Blanc and the Alps range, the Pyrenees and… the Mediterranean.

White trails The skiing area opens out into mountainous landscapes, centuries-old forestry breaking it up here and there, clearings and

Area: Alpine skiing, 9 km of slopes: 4 red, 6 blue, 5 green. Cross-country skiing, 60 km of trails: 2 green, 2 blue, 2 red, 1 black – competition standard and 1 cross-country skiing circuit with artificial snow. 85 snow cannons. Snow-shoe trekking – free access. Resort information: Mont Aigoual Causses Cévennes Tourist Office. 33 (0)4 67 64 82 15

grasslands where flocks of sheep and cattle still graze in the warmer months. There is a total of 60 km of cross-country ski trails, hard-packed and marked.

Including one black ski run of competition standard. The Ecole de Ski Français (French Ski School) offers one-to-one or group lessons in cross-country skiing, Alpine skiing or snowboarding. Snow-shoe trekking is unsupervised. Perfect for teaching children, the resort hosts several competitions including the Journée de la glisse (“Winter Sports Day”) and the Traces Blanches de l’Aigoual (‘The White Trails of Aigoual’) - two days of cross-country skiing, for all categories. The facilities have been used here for two winters (in 2006 and 2009) for the Championnats de France Masters. (“French Masters”Championship”).

A history of weather Predicting the weather

The Mont Aigoual observatory, the last mountain meteorological observatory in France, with its fortress like structure on the peak of Mont Aigoual, is impervious to the weather and the various hazards linked to its location. Inaugurated in 1894, the Met Office station serves as both a museum and a modern laboratory with a range of forecasting and observation instruments. As well as being open throughout the summer, it opens its doors to visitors for two weekends during the February half-term holidays and 8th January for the national snow-shoe trekking festival. Turning back the clocks

A few kilometres away, the Vigan museum, set in an old silk mill, tells the history of southern Cévennes through rooms depicting trades and ethnology - displays of silk works and a collection of clothes from the 18th and 19th centuries as well as by Coco Chanel. Take your time

From the old quarter of Serre, to Valleraugue, you take the4,000-step path, which soars towards the Mont Aigoual observatory. If you are not tempted by the summit, venture into the sloping alleyways and discover the houses built out of stones shaped by the river.


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HIGH-ALTITUDE CEVENNES 24 HOUR TOUR AROUND MARGERIDE (LOZÈRE) 2 - With the aurochs and tarpans The path which leads to the Signal de Randon passes Lake Charpal. This fresh water reservoir, fed by the River Colagne, provides water to the town of Mende. The many peat bogs which are home to flora dating back to the last ice ages, dwarf birches, Lapland willows and golden ray have led to its banks being classed as a Natura 2000 zone. They can now be enjoyed as an 8.7 km snowshoe trekking route. Together with the Truc de Fortunio, the Signal de Randon is the highest point on Margeride (1,551 m). From there, you can enjoy views of the plateau covered in forests of conifers and moors dotted with blockfield. It is at the top

Standing stone known as “Lou Palet de Gargantua”.

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ac ssez Cha






D. 986






between Langogne and Villefort, a standing stone known as 'Lou Palet de Gargantua' testifies to the fact that Pantagruel’s father also liked to have fun: it is a discus which he threw while playing with the shepherds. Nearby, La Garde-Guérin, a fortified mediaeval village on a sandstone plateauoverlooking the Chassezac Gorges, is worth a detour. In Langogne, Saint-Gervais Church “Gargantua's boots”. stands out due to its Burgundy Romanesque style. Near the southern door, the 14 pillars of the grain 1 - On the trail market reveal the commercial importance of Le MalzieuLangogne at a time when cereals, leather, wool, A 4 of Gargantua Ville llie r chestnuts, oil, wine and woad were traded. The good giant Gargantua, the famous hero 8 Calquières mill, built on a former grinding mill, D. 8 of Rabelais, left traces of his escapades in houses a spinning and wool museum. The Saint-ChélyLozère. Like any self-respecting ancient water-powered machines, which d'Apcher D. 987 giant, his strides could be several are listed Historic Monuments, Grandrieu kilometres long. Pradelles Saint-Albanstill perform demonstrations of wool N. 1 The proof? Chateauneuf de Randon, sur-Limagnole 02 spinning from sheep's fleeces. on the granite mountains Spinning Museum in Claquières. of Margeride, lies on a peak at Langogne3 23, rue des Calquières. an altitude of 1,286 m. On the way Langogne. LOZÈRE 8 out of the village, below the road 98 D. 2 Tel.: 33 (0)4 66 69 25 56. 8 which runs past the cemetery, N. 8 Saint-Etiennea balancing granite block rocks Saint-Amans de-Lugdarès 1 4 - Having a drink slightly when pushed with the Châteauneufhand. The size and shape of this in Chapeauroux de-Randon ”shaky rock”prove that it is one According to legend, when the of Gargantua's boots! You need to thirsty giant returned from a walk, D. 599 go to the Signal de Randon to find his he went in search of fresh, clear water. right foot and measure the size of this He drank his fill in the pretty river in Marvejols giant footstep. Before you reach there, Chapeauroux, obstructed with blockfield, Châteauneuf de Randon is worth a visit. with one foot in Haute-Loire and the other All that remains of this mediaeval stronghold MENDE in Montgros, Lozère. N. 108 and the château of the Barons of Randon is a In Saint-Bonnet de Montauroux, the Chapeauroux former keep, known as the 'Tower of the English'. Le Bleymard cirque, crowned with salt and granite columns D. 9 The town owes its reputation to Bertrand du 01 provides an exceptional backdrop to the Nouveau N. 10 Chanac 6 Guesclin, a constable of King Charles V, who took Monde rail viaduct (1870/1899, a listed Historic of the Signal de Randon and its pile of rocks, over the seat of this stronghold, then occupied Monument) whose 28 semi-circular arches smoothed by erosion, that Gargantua left his right by the English, in July 1380, before dying a few straddle it. On the right bank, in Condres, a huge boot. On the way to Langogne, a stop in Arzenc days later from drinking the icy water of the 15th century fortified castle sits imposingly on a will allow you to discover a typical Margeride Fontaine de la Glauze, according to legend. promontory.As you travel along the Chapeauroux village. Its Romanesque church is characteristic A bronze statue on the square, a cenotaph listed Gorges up to its source at the Signal de Randon, of the Romanesque art of Gévaudan. A few as a historic monument, located in L’Habitarelle, you will pass through quiet valleys and narrow kilometres up from the village, in Le Giraldès, and a museum celebrate his memory. rocky defiles. a working farm invites visitors to discover the Tourist Office auroch, the ancestor of the cow, brought back Avenue Adrien Durand. to life through cross-breeding, and a breeding Châteauneuf de Randon. farm for tarpans, considered the ancestor Tel.: 33 (0)4 66 47 99 52. of most races of horse. The aurochs of Le Giraldès. Le Giraldès The Nouveau Monde rail viaduct. The aurochs of Le Giraldès. Arzenc-de-Randon. Tel.: 33 (0)4 66 47 92 70. 33 (0)4 66 47 92 70.

3 - Eating and playing... Langogne takes great pride in being the homeland of the hero of Rabelais. Its hearty gastronomic dishes ('maouche' - stuffed pork belly - and 'manouls' - sheep feet and tripe) and the quality of its charcuterie were undoubtedly among the reasons for the giant's choice. In Thort, SUDDEFRANCE - 31 -

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Languedoc-Roussillon used to be famous for its Pont du Gard (Guard’s Bridge), the Canal du Midi, The Way of Saint James - the pilgrimage route to Santiago de Compostela, the town of Carcassonne and the fortresses of Villefranchede-Conflent and Mont-Louis, built by Vauban. That list has since been extended to include the eternal treasures of the Causses and the Cévennes, both listed as UNESCO World Heritage sites in the summer of 2011. Of course, LanguedocRoussillon is also all about wide open spaces, grandiose caves and Cathar castles … exceptional places that evoke a certain lifestyle, to which its gastronomy and exceptionally rich cultural heritage also bear ample witness.

p. 34-36 Heritage ............................................................ p. 37-39 Gastronomy ................................................... p. 40-41 Relaxation ........................................................ p. 42-43 Circuit ........................................................................ p. 44 Culture-Events ................................................. p. 45-47 Accomodation ......................................................... p. 48 Acces ....................................................................... p. 49 The Great Outdoors ......................................


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alternative winter sports Untouched nature, immaculate snow, silent landscapes... the region's winter sports resorts offer a vast range of sporting activities!


ith wide, snowy valleys and a choice of gradual or steep slopes, the winter sports resorts of Languedoc-Roussillon are sufficiently diverse for the different types of traditional skiing, downhill skiing and cross-country skiing, which can easily be learnt thanks to the presence of French ski schools. But freestylers have not been forgotten; there are usually snowparks where they can exercise

their acrobatic talent by jumping over bumps and moguls. Snowboarding also has its fans, both young and old, and its schools where you can learn a different way of moving across the snow. In addition, some of the events in the 'Pyrenees Showboard Tour' competition take place in the resorts of Pyrénées-Orientales.These wide open spaces are also ideal for trekking, on skis or on snowshoes, following well-signposted circuits. And, for those who want to get away from the beaten track, specialised associations and mountain guides offer one-day treks or several-day, long-distance treks so you can safely discover majestic sites set amidst virgin snow. Dogs and horses are also used to make trekking easier and more unusual. You can also imagine yourself as a trapper by trying out an ancestral way of travelling in the mountains, either as a passenger or with an introduction to leading a SUDDEFRANCE - 34 -

sled team. Leading a pack of Siberian huskies, Alaskan malamutes or Eskimos from Greenland will certainly give you a different experience of the mountains. Known mainly to aficionados, skijoring, another ancestral method of travelling in Nordic countries, involves being pulled by horses. A horse or pony pulls the skier, similarly to the way a boat pulls a water skier, but using a rigid frame.

Fashionable gliding

Snowkiting is the winter sports equivalent of kite surfing, but in this discipline the board is replaced by a snowboard or skis; it combines skiing with a sail which allows you to reach speeds of over 70 km/h. It requires fairly expensive equipment… and training. But faced


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with the enthusiasm this sport has aroused, more and more schools are offering training, supplying the equipment required in addition to your skiing equipment. Different levels are available before you fly off on your own. Speed riding, another sport combining flying and skiing, invites you to hurtle down a slope, combining your descent with paraskiing flights. A few paragliding schools are beginning to adapt and offer this winter sport, in which you fly with a small wing and leap several dozen metres before landing in inaccessible snowfields. Newer than snowboarding, snowscooting uses a kind of scooter on skis. This is built like a snowboard cut in half and offers sensations similar to those of BMX (bicycle motocross). Several resorts offer introductions, even for young children. Another minority sport (one slope in Font-Romeu), ski-bobbing or snowbiking is simply a (small) bicycle, without a pedal mechanism or wheels, but with skis and a brake pedal! It is very easy to learn and allows you to descend green and blue slopes on your first attempt, without falling, as it guarantees stability; it can also be used in a sportier manner, honking around slalom courses. Daredevils can hurtle down the slopes on mountain bikes in Les Angles.




Family wintersports

The latest attraction in some resorts is snowtubing; it is very stable and greatly enjoyed by children over 6. Seated on a kind of inflatable raft similar to an inner tube with handles, you hurtle down slopes with banked bends, where you spin round like a top, unable to control your snowtube! Speed and laughter are guaranteed. Don't deny yourself - there are snowtubes for adults as well as two-seaters. Airboarding adopts a similar principle and is a kind of inflatable toboggan. This new sport is fun and easy to learn and can be practised on reserved slopes, toboggan slopes or non-ski areas (from 8 years of age). The challenge involves lying on your stomach and holding the handles on the airboard to attack the slope head first. A descent at ground level for new sensations, with only your body weight to steer left and right. Reserved for times when the ski slopes are empty, snake-gliss is suitable for all ages and is becoming the must-do après-ski activity. You take the last ski lifts and then get onto toboggans, whose bodies slot into each other to form a long bendy caterpillar. This communal train, steered and controlled by a specialist, travels down slopes, negotiates bends and picks up speed. Everyone's participation is required for this snow serpent to move correctly. A helmet is provided and is compulsory! A different twist on another activity is laser biathlon, a new version of the biathlon, an Olympic sport which combines cross-country skiing and rifle shooting at a SUDDEFRANCE - 35 -

target. A lighter weapon, so easier to handle and, most importantly, safe, the laser rifle allows all ages to have a go.

Away from the slopes

For a much sportier experience, mountain guides can introduce you to the technique of ice climbing. Equipped with crampons and ice axes, you climb vertically up these ice walls whose texture and colour change from hour to hour, discovering stalactites, draperies and other ephemeral sculptures. Mountain climbing is a sport also practised in winter, requiring different techniques and allowing you to discover landscapes transformed by the snow. Some routes are accessible to all and some climbs are facilitated by the winter conditions. Corridors and gulleys will help you to reach the summits and experience magical moments in out-of-thisworld landscapes. Far from the summits, ice diving will appeal to those who enjoy extreme experiences. Separated from the rest of the world by a bluish surface layer of ice, you will enter a different world where everything is silent, calm and still, in the company of air bubbles! Using the equipment provided (fully water-tight one-piece outfits and gloves, face masks and bottles), you can make your first dive surrounded by qualified instructors and experienced divers can discover new sensations in water at only 2°C!és

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Vast protected areas to enjoy The Catalan Pyrenees and Cévennes are wide open spaces offering sublime countryside. A National Park and a Regional Park protect these places, as well as Unesco listing the Cévennes as a Heritage of Humanity.

A National Park and now listed by Unesco


Beyond the National Park, the whole of the Causses and Cévennes have been registered by Unesco on the list of Human World Heritage sites since June 2011.The result of the interaction between the natural milieu and people, which shaped this geography, has thereby been recognised. The biggest cultural landscape ever listed in Europe, this territory covers 3000km2 including a little more than half of it in Lozère, a quarter in the Gard and some in Hérault


he Cévennes' valleys, granite massifs of Mount-Lozère, L'Aigoual and Le Lingas, immense karstic plateaux of the Causses… The variety of the Cévennes landscape was worth the particular kind of protection alone that the statute of National Park gives it. Spreading across three regions (including the Lozère and Gard) the Cévennes National Park is the only one in a mountain environ-

ment. Different milieux, moor- and heathland match these contrasting landscapes, sheltering hugely varied flora (11,000 species) and fauna (2410 species). Numerous birds of prey such as the royal eagle, peregrine falcon, the great duke and wild vulture have made the park into their favourite place to live. Discovery trails and eco-museums are open to the public for walkers who love unusual countryside.

Happy days for mountain bikers Hiking lovers or sporty people who like endurance, everyone will find something for them as the region has over 6000 kilometres of marked out mountain biking routes. In the Aude, from the Black Mountain to the Corbières vineyards, without forgetting the Midi canal, there are 1400km of marked out bike paths. In the Eastern-Pyrenees region, there are over 60 routes from Capcir to Haut Conflent. In the Gard, mountain biking is a full-on experience with loops that follow the old shepherd and cattle grazing trails up onto Mount Aigoual; but also allow less cold walks in winter from the slopes of the Costières and Uzès heathland. In Lozère, between the Tarn gorges, the Compostella route, Aubrac tower and playgrounds are worth visiting. As for the Hérault, there's the marked out Green Network in particular, which lets you cross the region from east to west via 500km of trails. French Cycling Federation regional office. Tel: 33 (0)4 67 22 49 63.


From the Canigou foothills to the Spanish frontier The Catalan Pyrenees Natural Regional Park covers 137,000 hectares in the Cerdagne, Capcir and Haut-Conflent areas. Mountain landscapes, peaks and crests, high-altitude plains and plateaux from 300 to 3000 metres above sea level, subjected to a mountain climate softened by the Mediterranean influence.Alongside some unforgettable natural sites, the Canigou massif, Carança gorges, Bouillouses lakes and Carlit massif "desert", Lanoux lake and the circle of Camporells lagoons; the Park also watches over the cradle of an outstanding heritage. Starting with the abbeys, cloisters and numerous Romanesque and Baroque churches. The Mont-Louis fortifications and Villefranchede-Conflent, listed by Unesco world heritage, tell the turbulent history of this part of Catalonia, annexed by France in 1659 yet has managed to keep its identity.

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Storming the vertigo-giving citadels THE RUINS OF PEYREPERTUSE CASTLE. Mas-Cabardès









Montréal Fanjeaux



Ginestas de











Pays de Sault



Etang de Bages et de Sigean






Etang de l'Ayrolle

Sigean DurbanCorbières



eu Orbi

11 12



Coursan LézignanCorbières



Etang de Lapalme





dissident Christian religion, propagated by preachers from 1140, Catharism quickly had many converts in the Languedoc and was even acknowledged by the nobility, creating dioceses in Toulouse, Carcassonne, Albi and Agen. To counter the spread of this religion, which refuted the dogma and authority of the Catholic church, Pope Innocent III launched the “the Albi Crusade” in 1209. With Simon de Montfort at its head, the Crusaders unleashed pitiless repression and massacred the entire population of Béziers. Carcassonne, Minerve and Lastours fell one after the other. The county of Toulouse was reconquered. The Meaux Treaty (1229) put an end to the holy war, while the Inquisition continued hunting the heretics, who took refuge in the fortified villages of Minervois and the Corbières. Becoming a conflict over the South's independence from the Kingdom of France, the Cathar adventure ended in the fall of these forts and the Languedoc being reattached to the French crown. This epic tells the tale of the Cathar country castles. Peyrepertuse (the most imposing), Aguilar, Termes, Puilaurens, Quéribus (the last stronghold of Albi refugees, who laid down arms in 1255) and Puivert, are among the most imposing. Both airy and massive, the remains of these fortresses, which were


built at over 700 metres altitude, appear suspended and balanced on the rocky outcrops or spurting out of the rock they're hanging on to; while their crumbling walls give an impression of power. From Durban to Lagrasse, the Cathar country castle route offers you a tour at the heart of these 'good men's' history and many different fort monuments. Tourist Office for the Wild Corbières, Cucugnan. Tel : 00 33 (0)4 68 45 69 40.

Cathar country castles in the Languedoc-Roussillon 1

Aguilar •


Carcassonne •



Minerve •


Puivert •


Quéribus •


Termes •



- Lastours





Peyrepertuse 10



NB : This map mentions the ruins of the Cathar country castles. Other Cathar sites (Saint-Papoul and de Villelongue abbeys etc.) are also well worth a visit in the region.


Villefranche-deConflent, Vauban’s signature mark On the crossroads between Cerdagne and Roussillon lies Villefranche, which was long the capital of Conflent. Founded in 1090 by the Count of Cerdagne in the hollow that is the Têt Valley, this mediaeval city is classed among the most Beautiful Villages of France. The city walls which encircled it in the 11th century were strengthened in the 14th century by the King of Aragon, who added semi-circular towers. In the 17th century Vauban altered it considerably. The downstream front was reinforced by a fortified bunker cave called the Cove Bastera, but the heights are dominated by a fortress, renamed Libéria in the 20th century. The ingenious railway circuit on two levels has become the only way to visit Villefranchede-Conflent which, like its neighbour MontLouis, is one of twelve of Vauban’s fortifications listed as UNESCO World heritage sites in 2008. Villefranche de Conflent is also the town from which the Yellow Train departs. Tourist Information Office:

e Aud

Alzonne Belpech





Cana l du M

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Smallbut colourful trains

From the red train of Cathar country to the yellow train of Catalonia, these timeless trains are a surprising way to discover the jewels of the region.


his red and yellow train is proud of its Catalan colours, as well as its age -103. Since 1910, what is affectionately known as the 'canari' has been the backbone of the Regional Natural Park of the Catalan Pyrenees, from Villefranche-de-Conflent to Latour-de-Carol, on the border with Spain. But this small electric train with just a few carriages, which attracts 400,000 tourists a year, also links two UNESCO World Heritage for Humanity sites, the fortresses of Villefranche-de-Conflent and Mont-Louis, which were built by Vauban.

The Yellow Train in the highest station in France The yellow train, a regional express train, is the only train running between Cerdagne and the Roussillon Plain; it is also a tourist train known around the world for several

reasons: record for the highest train in France at the Bolquère resort, at an altitude of 1,593 metres, a record 6% height differential on certain slopes, the use of a metric track (one of only two still used by the SNCF) and a route which covers a height differential of 1,200 metres. Its 63 km route is punctuated by 650 engineering structures, including 19 tunnels, 15 bridges and 14 viaducts! Its construction, in the early 20th century, was a true technical exploit. The train runs alongside the River Têt, which is straddled by two remarkable structures, the superb, two-level Séjourné Viaduct and Gisclard Bridge, the last suspended railway bridge still in use in France. The Massifs of Canigou, Cambre-d’Aze, Carlit and Puigmal, mountainside villages, views of Lake Bouillouses and the Carança gorges… the daring, intrepid yellow train crosses the high Catalan plains. It runs throughout the summer and in winter (except for track renovation works until 20 December 2013) at a speed which varies depending on the season, but it retains all its majesty and poetry.

A red train for Corbières As red as its partner is yellow, the train of Cathar Country and Le Fenouillèdes is also SUDDEFRANCE - 38 -

over one hundred years old, as the line between Rivesaltes, on the Roussillon Plain, and Axat in the upper Aude valley was inaugurated in 1904. Called the ‘Trans-Valley Express’, this local train reinstated just over a decade ago connects the sea to the hinterland and offers breath-taking views of the vineyards, the Galamus Gorges, the limestone peaks of Corbières and the Cathar château de Puilaurens. In summer, the 60 km route is divided into themed sections, such as the vine route and the viaduct route. The railway line regularly runs along the River Agly, includes seven tunnels and stops at seven stations, some of which still retain the typical features of the stations of the Compagnie du Midi. It was open to passengers only until 1939. The Red Train's busiest period is between April and September, but it also makes some journeys out of season, as a Christmas train operating for a few days between 14 and 23 December, with Father Christmas on board of course!

To other shores Other unusual trains operate in the region, but only during high season. One of these is the small lagoon train which takes tourists on Sainte-Lucie Island to Port-la-Nouvelle, with a stop in La Franqui. Over its 13 kilometre route, the famous Cevennes steam train travelling on the line between Alès and Anduze in Gard, allows visitors to relive the epic days of 19th century trains, while travelling through sublime landscapes and structures as far as the bamboo plantation in Anduze.

• Yellow Train of the Catalan Pyrenees - Tel.: 33 (0)8 91 700 900 • Red Train of Catalonia and Le Fenouillèdes - Tel.: 33 (0)4 68 200 400 • Small lagoon train of Port-la-Nouvelle - Tel.: 33 (0)6 62 13 36 96 • Small Cevennes steam train www.trainavapeur.coms Tel.: 33 (0)4 66 60 59 00

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Industrialtourism,another aspectoftheregion From the past to the present, whether it is the coal mines of the Cevennes, former textile mills and factories, mineral springs, or factories making espadrilles, industrial tourism gives you the chance to discover a different side to the region.


he Ricard pit stands as a symbolic monument to the age-old activity of mining in the Cevennes coal basin and the struggles which led to its closure. For some months now, the headgear has been lit at three levels and now shines out over La Grand Combe, magnifying the headframe and giving a mythical quality to this metallic structure which sits over the town. As a listed historic monument, the Ricard mine has been transformed into a museum retracing the lives of the miners by using the different places that made up their everyday lives (the changing rooms with their pulley systems, the extraction gallery, the showers, etc.), giving an insight into what it was like mining coal for almost two centuries. Another mining attraction in the Gard, the Mine Témoin in Alès, introduces the visitor to this subterranean universe. The descent in the “cage” made by the “black faces” to access the vein of coal deep in the belly of the earth together with the 650 metres of galleries and all the equipment and materials of the four coal faces, make up a retrospective highlighting the principal stages of the mining operation. In Lozère, the silkworm nursery at la Roque is home to a museum revealing the different stages of raising silkworms, its influence on the architecture and on the landscapes of the Cevennes. Alternatively, the Calquières textile mill, close to the sources of the Allier, invites you to witness the different stages in processing wool from fleece to knitting yarn, using machines from the 19th century. The

Savonnerie de Lodève in the Hérault is still working today. It became an annex of the Royal Tapestry Factory in Paris (1627) and now produces carpets for the State. Visits to the weaving workshops are combined with a presentation and an explanation of the handiwork produced. The Maison de l’Olivier, at Clermont l’Hérault promotes the heritage of olive farming with a museum and a visit to the neighbouring olive oil co-operative. The town of Espéraza, in the Aude, has a hat-making museum bringing together all the machines and the different stages of production to make felt hats that made the town famous during the last century. Near to Carcassonne, the Brousses paper mill organises guided visits on the history and manufacture of paper together with an introduction to this ancient skill. In the Pyrénées-Orientales, the last big manufacturer of espadrilles, the Vallespir Sandales Company, throws open the doors to its workshops to reveal the specialised skills and expertise associated with the emblematic “vigatanas catalanes”. SUDDEFRANCE - 39 -

• Ricard Pit. Miner’s Museum. 51, rue des Poilus. La Grand-Combe. Tel: 33 (0)4 66 34 28 93 • Mine Témoin Alès. Chemin de la Cité Sainte-Marie. Alès. Tel: 04 66 30 45 15 • La Roque Silkworm Nursery. Molezon. Tel: 33 (0) • Calquières Textile Mill. 23, rue des Calquières. Langogne. Tel: 33 (0)4 66 69 25 56. • La Savonnerie. Impasse des Liciers. Lodève. Tel: 33 (0)4 67 88 86 44 • Maison de l’Olivier.13, avenue du Président-Wilson. Clermont-l’Hérault. Tel: 33 (0)4 67 96 10 36. • Hat-making Museum. Avenue de la Gare. Espéraza. Tel: 33 (0)4 68 74 00 75 • Brousses Paper Mill. Brousses and Villaret. Tel: 33 (0)4 68 26 67 43 • Vallespir Sandales. 7, rue Joseph-Nivet. Saint-Laurent-de-Cerdans. Tel: 33 (0)4 68 39 57 57.

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Regional fairs serve up winter treats! Foie gras, truffles, oysters, wines… Languedoc-Roussillon is spoilt for regional produce and its food fairs are a real garden of delights for food lovers!

rignan and Prades also organise annual fairs. They offer a great opportunity to get together with friends and enjoy high quality produce, including many regional wines that are on offer during the winter months, whether at Montpellier's vineyard fair at the end of November or Perpignan's Christmas muscat fair. The introduction of the ‘Sud de France’ label gives wine lovers the opportunity to choose from a range of wines that embody the identity and modernity of southern France, a region of sun-ripened wines with many different aromatic flavours that offer something to go with every course of your New Year celebrations.


t is surely the world’s most mysterious food – no one really knows how it develops, nor why it suddenly disappears. The only thing of which we can be sure is that in the space of just one and a half centuries, its production in France halved to barely 30 tons. The black truffle (tuber melanosporum), which grows in chalky soil at the foot of certain oak trees, remains a mystery to farmers and agronomists alike. The embodiment of luxury and French gastronomy, truffles are harvested between December and March, and Languedoc-Roussillon has become one of France's main producing regions for these ‘black diamonds’. In the Aude, truffles are ready in time for the Moussoulens, Talairan and Villeneuve-Minervois winter markets. Villeneuve-Minervois is also now home to a truffle ‘Maison’, which opened last year and has a museum dedicated to them. Many truffle fairs are also held in the Hérault, with the arrival of several markets, and in the Pyrénées-Orientales, especially in Arles-sur-Tech. In Uzès in the Gard, truffle producers have even set up a truffle conservatoire and a mass is held in honour of this precious mushroom during the famous ‘truffle weekend’, which ends with a great banquet organised by the region’s best chefs. Truffles have also taken over the kitchens of the Languedoc-Roussillon’s best chefs, including at Gilles Goujon’s three-Michelin-starred restaurant in Fontjoncouse in the Corbières, which serves a ‘Carrus chicken egg with truffles’. Other chefs have created similarly extraordinary truffle-based dishes. Oysters are another iconic Languedoc-Roussillon product and, on the Leucate and Thau lakes, shellfish farming has long been considered something of an art form. Bouzigues is an area famed for the unique flavour of its produce and is responsible for 10% of all the

Foie gras fairs in 2013 Belpech (Aude) : 7th and 8th December Sérignan (Hérault) : 14th and 15th December Céret (Pyrénées-Orientales) : 15th December Rieux-Minervois (Aude) : 21th December Carcassonne(Aude) : 22th December

oysters and mussels produced in France. It is home to some fifty eateries that are open all year round and offer tastings of shellfish produced in the lake. In Leucate, a series of small huts have popped up around the lake from which producers serve oysters and shellfish throughout the year. Most offer a take away service as well as food to eat in, allowing customers to enjoy shellfish banquets in the comfort of their own homes. Foie gras is of course the indisputable king of all food fairs. It starts to appear from November at the colourful food fairs of the Aude, Pyrénées-Orientales and the western part of the Hérault. The population of Belpech, a small commune in the Aude with just 1,300 inhabitants, increases tenfold during the food market held in early December, where duck and geese producers from across the region come to sell foie gras, confits and duck breast. The fair, which has been held for over 35 years, includes a huge banquet, live displays and processions, while other communes such as Céret, Limoux, SéSUDDEFRANCE - 40 -

The main truffle festivals Fête de Saint-Génies-des-Mourgues (Hérault) : 14th December 2013 Marché de Villeneuve-Minervois (Aude) : 28th December, 18th January, 8th February 2014 Uzès truffle weekend (Gard) : 18th and 19th January 2014 Ampélofolies du Cabardèse Moussoulens et Montolieu (Aude) : 26th January 2014 Fête d’Arles-sur-Tech (PyrénéesOrientales) : 2th February 2014 Fête de La Canourgue (Lozère) : 2th February 2014 Foire de la truffe à Lesquerde (PyrénéesOrientales) : 9th February 2014 Maison de la Truffe, Villeneuve-Minervois. Tel: 33 (0)4 68 26 14 20 Les truffières d’Uzès, Uzès. Tel: 33 (0)4 66 22 08 41

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The heart and soul of fine regional food


n a region such as the Languedoc-Roussillon, where agriculture and viticulture are the mainstay of economic activity, these markets have more than a symbolic role. Nowadays, if outdoor markets continue to prosper, covered food halls dedicated to fresh produce (there are 14 of them in the region) play, more than ever, their part in bringing local produce together and reflect this place's gastronomic culture. Somewhere to meet and talk, far from the monotony of big supermarkets, these markets are an expression of the land and beating heart of a city. In Carcassonne, in a building, part of which dates from the 17th Century, twenty-odd stallholders have their production for sale during the week; joined on Saturdays by organic producers all around the building. In Narbonne, the Baltard market from 1901 is definitely the place that's symbolic of local producers' know-how. Butchers, specialists in tripe and poultry, fishmongers, greengrocers, cheesemakers, bakers and wine merchants sit side by side (there are 70 companies) amidst a delightful din. The icing on the cake is that the markets have several bars, where people come to eat the meat bought from the butcher next door in a laid-back setting. In Béziers, the market, also in the Baltard style, was built on the very same spot as Saint-Felix's Church, where, in 1247, Raymond de Trencavel agreed to submit at the feet of Saint-Louis. Thirty or so shops live in this market, where there's a nostalgic attractive ambiance on Sunday mornings. Likewise in Agde, the ten or so stallholders here pull out the stops to draw in consumers and retain this place's atmosphere, where you can buy your meat or cheese but also taste some oysters. In Fron-

tignan, a dozen stallholders keep the town's market alive all year round Monday to Sunday, in a seaside ambiance. In Sète, good mood and high-quality produce are there every morning with, of course, a special place for fish and seafood. In Lunel, the market is unique on Sunday mornings, not for its size but its easy-going spirit, village character and quality of its produce as well; whether it's olive oil, poultry or anchovies on offer. In Montpellier, Castellane market, renovated over ten years ago now, has some superb stalls right in the city centre, with 26 shops including a nice little bar. Not far from there, Laissac market continues to be a popular place to go, following in the footsteps of the colourful Four Seasons market and its 40odd shops in the Paillade district. As for Jacques Cœur market in Antigone, it plays the added-extra card with various specialist shops too (wine merchant, Spanish produce etc). In Alès, there's a hint of the Cévennes hills in the air in the not so pretty yet very lively market, pole position going to local produce among the 80 resident stallholders. In Nîmes, the banter has been flowing and recipes swapped for 132 years between 75 market stallholders, who play a pivotal role in the city centre. This colourful, noisy and attractive market (for the atmosphere but also for the architecture) is well-known for high quality produce. The market restaurant has become the favourite place for watching slices of chaotic Nîmes life. •


NÎMES MARKET Agde market, Monday to Saturday morning. • Alès market, 14 rue de la République. Monday to Saturday morning. • Béziers market, place Pierre Sémard. Monday to Sunday morning. • Carcassonne market, rue de Verdun. Monday to Saturday morning. • Frontignan market, place du Marché. Tuesday to Sunday morning. • Lunel market, cours Gabriel Péri. Tuesday to Sunday morning. • Halles de Montpellier, Du lundi au dimanche matin • Narbonne market, boulevard du Dr Ferroul. Monday to Sunday morning. • Nîmes market, rue du Général Perrier. Monday to Sunday morning. • Sète market, boulevard Gambetta. Du lundi au dimanche matin. Infos à retrouver sur :



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Spaandmassages toreviveyourbody

Thermatology in the plural The Languedoc-Roussillon has no less than 13 thermal spa resorts. Entirely therapeutic, thermatology is appreciated by patients for its natural side, whose properties can be both preventive and curative. Over the last decade, a well-being and relaxation business has been added to classic medical treatments. Massage parlours, cosmetic treatments, clay baths, whirlpool baths and saunas are available to meet the expectations of a new clientèle searching for creature comforts and nice sensations, all in a delightful countryside backdrop. In the Eastern-Pyrenees, Le Boulou combines thermal spas and tourism in a resort dominated by scrubland vegetation. The Prats-de-Mollo-la-Preste resort lets you juggle hot spas, Mother nature and discovering Catalan country art. In the Aude upper valley, Rennes-les-Bains has been devoted to thermatology since Ancient times. Its tradition has benefitted from a fitness area and a beauty area attractively combined with the fun of exploring the Aude back-lands. In the Hérault, more than 15 springs line up along the geological fault that crosses the Lamalou-les-Bains valley right in the Upper-Languedoc natural regional park. Also in this park, Avènes-les-Bains owes its fame to specialising in dermatology. As for Balaruc, this coastal resort has become France's second most popular spa resort. In Lozère, La Chaldette is the place to go for cures on the Aubrac plateau. More and more thermal baths are being joined by many high-quality thalassotherapy centres in La Grande-Motte, Banyuls, Canet-en-Roussillon etc.


establishments in the Languedoc-Roussillon offering an invitation to travel and a beauty break.



ur philosophy is to offer a gamut of discovery for your skin and body, by using old handed-down beauty rituals and a way of life inherited from the Asian dynasties,” explains Anna Koleva, creator of the very elegant Sensotek spa in Montpellier (photo). In her institute, treatments are especially based on plants and energising roots from Asia, as well as dynamizing plants from the Amazon and Kombucha too, used to ferment the tea and benefitting from powerful oxidants. The natural products used have even lead to the creation of a cosmetics' range. A place for total relaxation. Other spas offer treatments based on clays, sea-

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• Alet-les-Bains This small Aude resort enjoys a pleasant microclimate. The hot springs feed the centre where digestive and metabolic conditions are treated. • Amélie-les-Bains One of the first spas of France located in the Pyrénées-Orientales. It deals with rheumatic and respiratory diseases. • Avène-les-Bains The Sainte-Odile d’Avène springs, in Hérault, are at the forefront of research in the treatment of skin diseases, especially for burn victims. • Bagnols-les-Bains 21 km from Mende in Lozère, this station located 900 m above sea level, the water at this spa gushes forth at 41.5°C. Rich in fluorine, mineral salts and rare gases, it is used for ENT disorders and rheumatology. • Allègre Les Fumades-les-Bains Its cold sulphurous waters, rich in calcium bicarbonate, make this Gard resort a specialist in diseases of the skin and respiratory system.

Water in the great outdoors

weed, mud, shea butter, honey, argan oil or even powdered plants. Their range of treatments is one of the widest. Since these products' and essential oils' therapeutic properties, allied with real expertise, offer a new dimension of well-being to visitors. Whether they're equipped with a spa pool, jacuzzi or sauna; these centres, such as the luxury ones at Domaine de Verchant just outside Montpellier or the brand new spa in collaboration with Carita at the Lagune hotel in Saint-Cyprien in the Eastern-Pyrenees, live to serve your well-being by using as much the classic model as shiatsu techniques, plant reflexology or ayurvedic massage based on the principles of traditional Indian philosophy. Just as exotic, some of the Turkish baths, like Montpellier's famous “Bain d’épices” or “La source d’énergie” in Nîmes, allow women to experiment with a handed-down beauty and relaxation ritual in a stylish disorientating setting, while sipping some mint or spiced tea. Also worth discovering, the thermal spas using natural hot-water springs, like in Molitg-les-Bains. So whether you're looking for peace & quiet or dynamism, are trying to relax or lose weight or simply get fit; the well-being experience is easily possible!

Torrents of hot water have always spurted out of the Pyrenees. The Romans already appreciated these thermal spas spurting out between the Carlit and Canigou mountains, through granitic rock that heats up the water. Ideal for relaxing, these outdoor hot water springs at 38 degrees, sometimes over 50°C, are found in Dorres, Llo and Saint-Thomas-lesbains where they're tapped in to. In Llo, in the Sègre valley, the spring is rich in glairines, particularly beneficial for the skin. In SaintThomas, the sulphurous hot waters naturally spurt out at 58°C into three large outdoor pools, surrounded by cliffs and forest. Rich in fluorine, it's appeasing and healing. In Dorres, two pools together for bathing and swimming outdoors at 1400m altitude, offer an unusual atmosphere in a rural setting not far from the ski resorts. As for lovers of Mother nature, they could experiment in the wild baths at Nyer, En, Thuès or Prats-Balaguer, where the water comes out at 62°C. Experience reserved for good walkers! • Bains de Dorres • Dorres baths Tel: 33 (0)4 68 04 66 87 • Llo baths Tel: 33 (0)4 68 04 74 55 • Saint-Thomas baths Tel: 33 (0)4 68 97 03 13


• La Chaldette The water at 35.6°C from this resort in the Lozère contains bicarbonate and sodium with a sedative and decongestant effect, ideal for ENT and intestinal disorders. • Lamalou-les-Bains The oligometallic and ferruginous waters of this Hérault spa are famed for the treatment of pain and nervous disorders. • Molitg-les-Bains Molitg, in the Pyrénées-Orientales, is a resort specialising in the treatment of dermatological, respiratory, and rheumatological conditions. • La Preste At the gates of Spain in the PyrénéesOrientales, the presence of sulphurous and radioactive springs led to the development of an important resort in the nineteenth century. • Rennes-les-Bains The warm and sulphated waters of this Aude resort are used to treat rheumatism. • Vernet-les-Bains ENT disorders and rheumatism are treated in this town in the Pyrénées-Orientales. • Balaruc Located along the Hérault coast, Balaruc is the second biggest spa resort in France. Its warm waters containing trace elements have healing properties for the joints and legs. • Le Boulou South of Perpignan in the PyrénéesOrientales, Le Boulou is a charming little village where cardio-arterial and digestive conditions are treated.

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PERSPECTIVES LITTORAL 24HR TOUR AROUND MOUNT CAROUX (HÉRAULT) Pierre Leroy-Beaulieu, Antoine de Saint-Exupéry, Robert Desnos… Atlas cedars, Corsican, Scots and Douglas pines; chestnut trees and American red oaks, planted to fight against deforestation following a damaging flood in 1930, have thus formed a memory forest thanks to the action of the Association of Writers in Combat and the Touring Club of France, Emmanuel Bourcier, writer and former combatant and Francisque Lacarelle, a nursery owner who donated and planted 10,000 cedars. A moving trail yet still attractive, with a picnic area, various pathways and viewpoint over the Madale gorges in a heather and broom landscape. D. 12

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All this in a stone-house setting with a view over the Cévennes, and a warm family ambiance. Auberge de Combes. The village, Combes. Tel: 33 (0)4 67 95 66 55.

4 - Walking Aniane in the Héric gorges

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The Museum of Modern Art in Céret The museum of modern art in Céret focuses on the great artists of the 20th century who at one time stayed in this town or its surrounding areas. And many are those who have been seduced by the varied charms of the town Picasso, Braque, Gris, Soutine, Chagall, Matisse, Bioulès... The temporary exhibitions alternate between modern and contemporary, remaining faithful to this period whilst also opening its doors to international artists.

Musée d'Art Moderne de Céret 8, boulevard Maréchal Joffre in Céret. Tel. 33 (0)4 68 87 27 76

Contemporary Art Space in Bourg-Madame Dedicated to Catalan artist Josep PuigMarti, known for his tireless imagination, which led him to reinterpret impressionism, eroticism and pop art. This space also welcomes artists of renown as well as exhibitions from local artists. Espace d'Art Contemporain (“Contemporary Art Space”), Place de Catalogne in Bourg-Madame. Tel: 33 (0)4 68 30 11 60

The Museum of Fine Art in Perpignan A private 18th century town house exhibits works representative of the art and culture of Pyrénées-Orientales from the 17th century to the present day: Catalan ceramics, Gothic altar pieces, works by Hyacinthe Rigaud, but also by Maillol - founder of modern sculpture, who was born not far from Perpignan, Raoul Dufy who lived in the region for a decade, Miro, and Pablo Picasso who frequented the town hotel which has been home to the museum since

1979. The Museum of Fine Art has been awarded the title “Museum of France” for 2002. Musée des Beaux-Arts Hyacinthe Rigaud 16, rue de l'Ange in Perpignan. Tel: 33 (0)4 68 35 43 40.

This is a museum that all children beg to visit, but in fact, parents happily plunge into this ‘lost world’ too. The Dinosaur Museum at Espéraza goes back through time, revisiting the principal geological periods with the help of fossils of reptiles, mammals, invertebrates and plants. The centrepiece of the museum is its central hall where a surprising herd of dinosaur skeletons can be found, including some of the most formidable species that walked the planet. Another curiosity is the findings of digs led by the museum in the upper Aude valley, a major source of the later dinosaur remains. Eva is the name given to one of the herbivore dinosaurs discovered in 2001 and she has become the museum’s mascot. A small green character appears at the bottom of display panels and relates his version of history to the children. Walking enthusiasts can follow Eva’s walking trails which, via 20 interpretation panels, lead to Campagne-sur-Aude where the largest and most complete dinosaur remains ever found in France were discovered. The Dinosaur Museum. Espéraza. Tel: 33 (0)4 68 74 26 88 - 04 68 74 02 08.

Catalonia House in Perpignan This historical building, adjacent to Saint-Jean Cathedral and Campo Santo, is worth the trip all by itself. It is home to the Department of Catalan Culture and Heritage and features exhibitions and cultural activities for the general public.

Bélesta Castle Museum

trip going back nearly 300 million years.

Champclauson Fossil Forest. Hameau de Champclauson. La Grand Combe. Tel: 33 (0)4 66 60 34 65.

The PAB Museum in Alès

Maison de la Catalanité 11, rue du Bastion Saint-Dominique in Perpignan. Tel: 33 (0)4 68 08 29 30

This 12th century castle, fortified by Louis IX, is home to a museum of modern prehistory. Created following the discovery of the Bélesta Cave, it exhibits artefacts found during archaeological digs. The remains left by the Castle’s different occupants (remains of meals, ashes, woven cloth, etc.) helped extend the knowledge about the lives of the first stock breeders and farmers some 6,000 years ago and constitutes the central theme of the museum. Bélesta Castle Museum, 5, rue du Château. Tel: 33 (0)4 68 84 55 55

The Dinosaur Museum

Champclauson Fossil Forest A quite unique geological site has been revealed in the cliff of a disused opencast coal mine. Some fifty tree trunks, including some measuring about 3 metres high, together with fossilised plants were encased where they once grew some 300 million years ago. The fossil forest of Champclauson is one of the rare natural and carboniferous paleobotanical sites open to the public. It features displays on how the coal was formed and how plants and trees evolved right up to the present day. A little train also takes visitors on a

Pierre André Benoit (PAB), printer, poet, sculptor and drawer, gifted his collection of modern art works to the City of Alès (Gard) to create the museum which bears his name. The works (Alechinsky, Arp, Braque, Hugo, Picabia, Picasso …) are exhibited in the former castle at Rochebelle. Musée Pierre André Benoit. 52, Montée des Lauriers in Alès. Tel: 33 (0)4 66 86 98 68ées SUDDEFRANCE - 45 -

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Afestiveregion From the Pyrenees to the Cévennes, no opportunity to gather village communities together was missed in the past. Certain festivals continue to delight us to this day!

A carnival-like Sainte Blaise

At Trèves, on the first weekend of February near Sainte-Blaise - the patron saint of hemp-workers and master of the winds - the Pétassou springs out of legends and into life. Dressed in “pétas” (strips of coloured cloth which twirl in the wind, carrying on his back a dried pig’s bladder pumped up with air, he brandishes a stick of broom and strolls along the streets, stopping at the farms and houses asking for an offering. The demon of the carnival, often used as a threat by mothers frighten disobedient children, finishes on the bonfire and is a reminder of the old weaver traditions of the town. Tourist Information Office: Mont Aigoual, Causses Cévennes Tél : 33 (0)4 67 82 25 10 Trèves Town Hall - Tél: 04 67 82 72 90

Dawn serenade before Christmas

A ball, dawn serenade and Catalan dances for Saint Andrew – Rivesaltes gets into the festival spirit. The last weekend of November is also the occasion to celebrate the sweet muscat wine for Christmas which is blessed in the Sunday mass then... tasted in the company of the producers! Rivesaltes Tourist Information Office. Tél: 33 (0)4 68 64 04 04

You can eat all of a pig, except the squeal

At Limoux, the longest carnival in the world

Strong advocates of this adage, Saint-Pons-de-Thomières holds a festival at the end of February. The brotherhood ‘Los Bonhetaires dal Soumal’ is reviving the methods and art of preparation with a charcuterie workshop, a pig-based meal and a festival of pig products. Since last year, the truffle has played a part – not least because the pig is one of those rare animals that can track down the famous elusive mushroom. Demonstrations of truffle-hunting arealso provided. But the highlight of this weekend-long celebration is with fork in hand at the “party of the pig men”. All you have to do is attack the hog roast. Regional flavour and ambiance guaranteed!

Of the plethora of carnivals, the Limoux carnival, which takes place every Saturday and Sunday from January to March is a little different. The Meuniers (“Millers”) (of whom it is said their carnival origins date from the 14th century), les Coudenos, les Blanquetiers, les Pébradous... a total of thirty costumed groups following each other, stretching out the carnival procession from 11:00am, going from one bistro to the next, tasting the famous sparkling Blanquette de Limoux wine, to the strains of Limoux music wafting from the arcades in the Place de la Republique. At 4:30pm, Pierrots – whose costumes differ from one group to the next – and Dominos and Goudils – the incorrigible breakers of rules – come to dance among the crowds. The Pierrots shake their “carabène” – a long painted reed stalk, while the Dominos lead the music with their whips. At 11:00pm, in the glow of resinscented torchlight, the masks, choreography, and music take on a solemn yet magical feel. One Sunday is given over to an outing for all the groups and their costumes to compete with each other. The Carnival King is received on the first Sunday by the Meuniers, all dressed in white. He is tried in Occitan and burned on the last Sunday, during the “night of the Blanquette” under a profusion of confetti!

Pays Saint Ponais Tourist Information Office. Tél: 33 (0)4 67 97 06 65

A carnival of wine dregs...

Each year on Ash Wednesday, Cournonterral, not far from Montpellier, plays host to the most rustic and most secret of all carnivals. In a village cut off from the rest of the world, young men and women from the village all dressed in white must from strange creatures with faces hidden behind black woollen masks, wearing top hats and, around the waist, a sack of straw soaked in wine lees. These Paliasses allow the wearers to shamelessly rub up against each other - an impressive virile ritual dating back to the 14th century. Cournonterral Town Hall. Tél: 33 (0)4 67 85 43 66

Mairie de Limoux. Tél: 33 (0)4 68 31 01 16


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Bear necessities At Prats-de-Mollo, the bear is centre-stage in a legend which recalls the traditional introduction of this sure-footed beast to the Pyrénées-Orientales, with a dedicated carnival involving a fertility rite. The bear – the kidnapper of young shepherdesses – is pursued by local citizens, captured and brought back to the village square where it is shaved – this fairy tale is played out in music and dance at the bear festival. On the last Sunday in February, released at 3pm, the bears disguised in amazing furs charge along the streets of the village in search of their prey whose faces they mark with their sooty paws. Hot on their heels, the hunters let off rifle shots with each sighting, all the while reviving themselves with swigs of wine to get ready for the final capture at the end of the day. At that point, the barbers dressed in white bathe and shave the beast, giving it a human appearance. Thrills and laughs guaranteed! The festival of the bear takes place at Arles-sur-Tech on the first Sunday in February and at Saint-Laurent-de-Cerdans on the first Sunday in March. Tourist Information Office of Prats-de-Mollo-la-Preste. Tel: +33 (0)4 68 39 70 83 Tourist Information Office of Arles-sur-Tech. Tel: +33 (0)4 68 39 94 63 Tourist Information Office of Saint-Laurent-de-Cerdans. Tel: +33 (0)4 68 39 55 75


From wolves to elephants There are numerous animal parks strung out across the region allowing you to explore the rich fauna in the Pyrenees and Mediterranean areas. Other more exotic species are also waiting to be discovered.

African Reserve

Over more than 300 hectares, bordering the Peyriac and Sigean lagoons, the African reserve brings together 3800 animals. Giraffes, bears, white rhinoceros, Grant zebras and lions live together in this space. One of the routes can be done by car, while a pedestrian trail lets you observe antelopes, chimpanzees, elephants and alligators at a distance… Sigean African Reserve, 9 chemin du Hameau in Sigean (Aude). Tel: 33 (0)4 68 48 20 20

Gévaudan wolf park

In the land of the legend of the Gévaudan beast, this park brings together around 130 wolves of different species over 20 hectares. The park likes to give you some background on knowing and understanding this animal better, which has returned to France since the 90s. Gévaudan wolves, Sainte-Lucie in Saint-Léger-de-Peyre (Lozère). Tel: 33 (0)4 66 32 09 22

European Bison Reserve

On a 200+ hectare reserve, visitors can go on a discovery tour of a herd of European bison. Unusual animals from prehistoric times, the bison you see in Margeride come from Poland where the last specimens survived. The herd settled in Lozère comes from animals arrived in 1991. European Bison Reserve. Another park exists in the Cévennes but is closed in winter. European Bison, Sainte Eulalie Reserve in Margeride (Lozère). Tel: 33 (0)4 66 31 40 40

Black Mountain Lamas

About fifteen lamas reared on a farm on the Black Mountain, which you can visit and also go for an educational ride on on the mountain, even if it's snowing! The lama farm right in the Cathar heartlands offers this all year round, but you must book in advance. Black Mountain lama farm, les Vernèdes in Castans (Aude). Tel: 33 (0)4 68 26 60 11

Foal racing at Pézenas

Drums, fifes, oboes… It is the strains of these secular musical instruments that draw the inhabitants of Pézenas in Hérault into the streets to follow the Foal – an icon of the town which appears with the approach of Shrove Tuesday/Mardi Gras in time for the carnival. The legend dates back to 1126 in the reign of Louis XIII, whose mare had fallen ill. Cared for by two consuls of the town, the animal gave birth to a foal and to show his gratitude, the king presented a wooden foal to the town. So, each year nine men carry an enormous structure of the figures of Estieinou and Estieinette (representing the King and a young peasant girl) sitting astride the horse. Le Poulain (the foal) is recognised by UNESCO as an intangible part of World Heritage. Pézenas Tourist Information Office. Tél: 33 (0)4 67 98 36 40

Roquemaure, love is in the vine

When phylloxera wiped out hectares of vines, a rich landowner from Roquemaure brought relics of Saint Valentine back from Rome in 1868, thereby hoping to put an end to the devastation. Instead of saving the vines, the relics brought this village in Gard a certain notoriety, and every 14th February sees 500 amateurs and professionals gather to celebrate the events in a historic reconstruction ... a feast-day for lovers. The whole village dons its 19th century finery for a gala meal, a waltzing competition, a dawn serenade to love and other festivities all to the sound of oboes, fifes and drums. The relics are honoured with a procession and mass with a cortege in the style of 1868. While the parade of seven carts filled with vine shoots beat the bounds of the town – an historic re-enactment! Roquemaure Tourist Information Office. Tél: 33 (0)4 66 90 21 01

Roquebrun, a scented festival

The first mimosa flowers present the pretext for Roquebrun, the Nice of the Hérault, to celebrate the first signs of spring on the second Sunday in February. The flower parade brings together wagons decorated with a new theme each year. Of course, the mimosa is everywhere – on sale, blessed at the chanted mass and lending its colours and scents to the festival. Tourist Office. Tél: 33 (0)4 67 89 79 97


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Stayingin Languedoc-Roussillon

It's a good sign!

This label guarantees a warm and professional welcome, promising quality and comfort in over 800 establishments and tourist sites. Whether in terms of accommodation, restaurants, wine-tasting cellars, local produce outlets or tourist and cultural sites, all are committed to maintaining the highest standards. These many establishments have all mastered the basics of receiving clients in English, welcoming disabled clients with care and attention and upholding their firm pledge to provide clear and useful information on the cultural and leisure activities available in Languedoc-Roussillon. www.qualité


diverse land, where you can devote yourself to the pleasures of skiing, take advantage of the winter sun along the beaches or just as easily breathe in some fresh air hiking or biking through the scrublands. Languedoc-Roussillon harbours such beautiful spots, typical of the art of living southern French style, which reveal themselves in all their glory as soon as the winter season is upon us. And accommodation choices are both numerous and varied. A stay in a gîte will delight those visitors hoping to discover traditional living in a home lovingly decorated by its owners, true ambassadors for the region. In the

mountains, as well as the hotels and holiday camps, bed and breakfasts offer an exceptional welcome, perhaps at the heart of a family who’ll let you in on all their local secrets of the mountains, whether it be the Capcir or the Cévennes. On the coast or in the towns - in Perpignan, Nimes or Montpellier, professional hoteliers welcome you into modern establishments with a wide range of services. Carrying the “Qualité Sud de France“ label, these establishments help you enjoy a smooth and trouble-free stay in Languedoc-Roussillon. In addition to these, around fifty establishments selected for their exceptional criteria form part of the elite “Cercle Prestige“ (“Presti-

gious Circle“), providing excellence in tourism. Their quintessential stylishness is spectacular and capable of satisfying a client's every whim when discovering the South in winter. The ‘Club Oenotourisme’ (Wine Tourism Club) is now broadening its range of services, by promoting vineyards and businesses that offer wine tours, including accommodation and tastings at cellars and vineyards. The club already has some twenty members who offer tastings of wines from Languedoc-Roussillon, a region heralded as ‘the new El Dorado of world wines’ by renowned critic Robert Parker, and allow visitors to discover these wonderful areas of regional heritage.


The Sud de France Brand Created in 2006 by the Languedoc-Roussillon Region in association with local businesses, the Sud de France label brings together food and wine production within the Languedoc-Roussillon Region under one name in order to promote sales within local, national and international markets. Sud de France today lists more than 6,000 food products and 1,800 wine producers from Languedoc-Roussillon under its label, a number that is constantly increasing.

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Direct flights from Paris (to Béziers, Perpignan, Montpellier), from Rennes (to Montpellier), from Nantes (to Montpellier), from Lyon (to Montpellier), from Ajaccio (to Montpellier). FROM BELGIUM:

Direct flights from Brussels (to Carcassonne, Perpignan, Nimes, Montpellier) FROM THE UK:

Direct flights from Birmimgham (to Montperllier) London (to Perpignan, Béziers, Carcassonne, Montpellier, Nimes), Manchester (to Perpignan), Bristol (to Béziers), Leeds Bradford (to Montpellier), Liverpool (to Nimes, Carcassonne), Southampton (to Béziers, Perpignan) FROM SPAIN:

Direct flights from Madrid (to Montpellier). Visit the airport websites: • Nîmes • Montpellier


(“South of France Development – Tourism in Languedoc-Roussillon”) 34000 Montpellier - France Tel. + 33 (0)4 67 200 220

• Béziers • Perpignan • Carcassonne • Gérone en Espagne

By train

TGV direct from Geneva and Brussels.

Aude Departmental Tourism Committee Tel. + 33 (0)4 68 11 66 00 Gard Departmental Tourism Committee Tel. + 33 (0)4 66 36 96 30

- SNCF Reservations:

Hérault Departmental Tourism Committee Tel. + 33 (0)4 67 67 71 71

Information onr - TER links:

Lozère Departmental Tourism Committee Tel. + 33 (0)4 66 65 60 00

Daily TGV LINKS between Paris, Lille and Lyon and the major towns of Languedoc-Roussillon. TGV from Brussels Links from Barcelona Sants to Perpignan. - Railway Information for Montpellier, Narbonne, Nîmes et Perpignan :

By car

- A 61 Toulouse - Narbonne - A 75 Montpellier - Clermont-Ferrand - Paris - A 9 Barcelone (Espagne) - Montpellier - Lyon - A 54 Montpellier - Marseille - Motorway information Listen to RADIO TRAFIC FM, 24 hours a day, 7 days a weekéjours

Pyrénées-Orientales Departmental Tourism Committee Tel. + 33 (0)4 68 51 52 53 Languedoc-Roussillon Tourist Information Centres Abroad


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Adestination A destination allseasons all seasons Palau


IDM - Photo Paul

Chic weekend

sudd efra nce.




Winter 2013-2014

tion www.des tina




Conception : Studio

ommodation Charming acc of fresh air and plenty gramme on the pro





Pyrénées, Cévennes and activities 2013 , facilities #14 resort by resort

Real luxury

is being there! Snow-kiting, speed riding

ice diving, snowscoo ts, bike-skiing… alternative winter sports!

Yellow train, red train: ways Good food, Christmas of getting around, big in colour & New Large scale tourism Year eating, winter dining , anoth er side to the region





Sud de France brochures can be downloaded from or by downloading Mon Sud de France for iPad. Keep up with all the tourism news in Languedoc-Roussillon by subscribing to the Vacances en Languedoc-Roussillon and Prestige Languedoc-Roussillon e-newsletters at

Winter 2013-2014

Th P sit e mORT es o FO in st b L th ea IO er u eg tifu io l n

ronomy y, city of gast Castelnaudar ms ’s hidden char Thau, the lake France Cataluña in of h touc a city Perpignan, ty of authenti beau the Larzac, Terrasses du Côte Vermeille jewel of the Paulilles, the antiquity , an epic of Pont du Gard


Conception : Studio IDM - Photo Paul Palau

all seasoillonns Rouss Languedocthe South! live it


WINTER 2013-14


www.destinations uddef

AD dEesFtiRnAaNtiCoEn SUD


Sud de France Magazine - Winter 2013 / 2014  
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