Minerve, Lastours, Peyrepertuse, Abbey Fontfroide and the Canal du Midi. Saw the start of an international bike race. May 14-22, 2017

Our weekends are spent working on this blog and  planning the next week.  We’re never quite sure where it will lead but the photos speak for themselves.  This past week we visited Minerve, as small village at the confluence of two river gorges.  Visitors must park on the outside of town and walk through it.  We also visited Lastours which has 4 castles built on one hill.  Three of the castles were Cathare castles and the fourth was built by D. Trump just to piss the others off.

Abbey Fontfroide is a beautiful place with gardens and lovely stain glassed windows.  No longer an abbey, it is primarily open for tourists, concerts and art exhibitions .

The Canal du Midi through southern France is one of the oldest canals in the EU.  It has a lifestyle of its own.   https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Canal_du_Midi

Peyrepertuse Castle is one of the best examples of a Cathare castle.  Built into the side of a  mountain,  it can be seen for miles and is very impressive looking up at it and from the inside.

On the way,  we stumbled on the start of an International Bike race for 23 and under racers.  It’s kind a warm up for potential Tour de France riders.  The link to a Youtube on the race is here.  https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=tJRumKYgsqo

This past week we also visited some excellent local winery’s with the thought of stocking up before we head to the UK at the end of the week.  On Sunday, we attend a small wine tasting and BBQ at Domain Gayda.  Beautiful clear day and you could see the snow capped Pyrenees in the distance.  Met the owner of the vineyard and  some charming  British Expats.  When we returned to Limoux,  the other residents of our apartment were having a gathering in the ‘back yard’.  It was a long, fun day.

This is our last week in Limoux, France. We leave Friday for the UK.  We’re taking three days so we don’t have to rush too much and can take in a site or two along the way.

Limoux and southern France has been a wonderful place to visit.  We really haven’t strayed too far from Limoux but there has always been something new to see and do.

Abbaye Fontfroide

Minerve, France

Lastours, France

Chateau Peyrepertuse

Canal du Midi

 

A glimpse of the Mediterranean , more of the Pyrenees a few more Chateau’s and an active monastery.

We left Monday, May 8th, for Prades, France.  We stayed in a lovely, 4 room B&B that looked out onto to  Pyrenees.  We took the ‘Little Yellow Train’ into the mountains from Villefrance-de-Conflent to Font-Romeu which is about an 1 1/2 hr. ride.  Font -Romeu is a ski town and also has a large Solar Energy Testing site.  The train ride was actually pretty disappointing.  I would recommend driving the route instead.

We also went to the market in Prades, hiked to the Abbaye St. Martin du Canigou ( https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Abbey_of_Saint-Martin-du-Canigou ) which is an active Monastery.  After the hike, we stopped off at the Baines de St. Thomas and relaxed in the thermal baths and topped the day with a short walk around Villefrance-de-Conflent, a walled city at the base of the Pyrenees ( https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Villefranche-de-Conflent )

On the drive back to Limoux we stopped in Eus, another walled city, Collioure and Port Vendres on the Mediterranean where we had our first taste of Rabbit Stew.

After a day of recovery (laundry), we drove to Lastour, France where you can visit 4 castles built on the same hill.  Kind of like driving to 4 corners in the US just to say you’ve been to those 4 states.

We only have 2 weeks left in Limoux before taking off to England where we’ll spend a little over 6 weeks.  We’re planning several day trips, attending some music events and maybe an overnight or two to nearby towns.

So far, no major mishaps.  Only a missed train,  broken glasses and a few missed turns.

Weather over French countryside.

Prades, France-

A drive through the Pyrenees-

Eus, France-

Collioure and Port Vendres-

Lastours, France

We’re not really foodies but we did go out for a great French meal at a restaurant  down the street from us.  Below is picture of Kaye’s entree.

 

French countryside and Cathare castles . May 3-7, 2017.

Having a car has allowed us to expand our exploration.  We visited 3 Cathare Chateaus northwest of Limoux  ( https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Catharism ).   The countryside was beautiful and from the Chateaus you could see it all.  Of the 3 we visited, Montsegur has the most dramatic story as it was the place that the Cathare rebellion was ended.  Over 200 Cathare followers were burned at the stake after refusing to give up their religious beliefs.

St. Hilaire near Limoux.  ( https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Saint-Hilaire,_Aude ) and Robert Blanquette De Limoux Vineyards.

Chateau at Puivert

Chateau Montsegur-

Rennes – le- Chateau -inspiration for Da Vinci Code

Couiza, Limoux Brass Band Festival and Toulouse. April 24-May 2.

Capitol building of Toulouse- The Pink City

This has been a fairly laid back week and a half .  We gave up our bikes on Tuesday.  We’ll miss them because it expanded our territory a little and we were able to bike to the big grocery store a few miles away and stock up.  Without the bikes we’re more ‘local’.  I managed a swim,  Kaye,  a good walk or two and we did some planning for London which is only a month away.

Feeling a little restless after giving up the bikes we took the local bus from Limoux to Couiza which is about 12 kilometers away.  Our intention was to walk to Rennes-le-Château which we thought was 2 kilometers from town.  After walking about 2 miles uphill we realized we weren’t going to make it to the Chateau and back down and make the return bus.  It was actually about 2 1/2 miles to the Chateau so we retreated back to town and walked around town until the bus came by.  Some of the photos are from the beautiful church in the town of Couiza.  We’ll have to save the Chateau for another day.

Attended 3 of the performances at the Limoux Brass Festival.  Excellent bands and music. Everything from show tunes to New Orleans Jazz.

Took the train to Toulouse for 3 days to pick up a car and explore Toulouse- the Pink City.  We were there May 1,  Labor Day and a big holiday for the French so nothing was open, parades in the street and armed guards on every corner.  The city was not crowded and a great chance to walk and bike around the city.  Visited the Capitol, the  Basilica of St. Sernin ( https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Basilica_of_Saint-Sernin,_Toulouse ), and the Cathedral of  St. Etienne (https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Basilica_of_Saint-Sernin,_Toulouse).

Images from Toulouse.

The Basilica of St. Sernin ( https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Basilica_of_Saint-Sernin,_Toulouse )

Cathedral of St. Etienne ( https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Toulouse_Cathedral )

Drove our leased Renault Clio back to Limoux and stopped off at Mirepoix to visit the Medieval town (https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Mirepoix,_Ariège ).

We’ve got some short day trips planned over the next few weeks.  Next week, at train ride into the Pyrenees.