Area & Activities
Montlaur is in the heart of the Corbières wine growing region of Languedoc Roussillon and one of the sunniest places in France with over 300 days of sunshine a year. It is the perfect location for immersing yourself in rural village life as well as exploring the Cathar castles and enjoying this beautiful region rich in history. Some of the major walking routes in the region pass through the village. Bikes can be hired and delivered to the house and horse riding and trekking are available locally. There are many lovely places to swim in local rivers and lakes – our favourites are the lake at Taurize at 6kms, the River Orbieu at Lagrasse (with a lifeguard) at 13kms and Ribaute at 9 kms , the latter with natural deep rock pools .
Montlaur, a small village of less than 600 residents, is a thriving little centre for the six villages in the Val Dagne and in additional to local shops there are five different wine producers providing wine tasting in the village. Market stalls with organic bread, local produce including fruit, vegetables, honey and cheeses, take place weekly in the summer in the main square. The annual grape harvest in late September is major event in the calendar.
Numerous fetes, concerts and village festivals take place in Montlaur and surrounding villages during the summer – here you can participate in village meals, listen to traditional occitan songs, enjoy the entertainment and dance to live music. Petanque (boules) is the favourite sport. There is a well equipped play area for small children and a pleasant park.
Lagrasse (12km) is part of the Les Plus Beaux Villages de France Association ("The most beautiful villages of France"). The village is famed for its 13th century abbey, medieval houses and streets, book and pottery fairs and concerts over the summer months, and a lovely 12th century hump backed bridge. It is good place to explore at any time of the year and has a number of good restaurants.
There is a country park with an attractive sandy beach and (supervised) lake swimming 20 mins away at Lac Cavayère, Carcassonne . It has an O2 Adventure rope and zip wire course in the forest which is challenging for all ages.
Carcassonne (24km) is the second most visited French city, following Paris. It has an amazing walled and fortified city, Le Cite, dating from the Middle Ages and this is central to the Cathar history as told in the Kate Mosse books “Sepulchre” and “Labyrinth”. The castle has a complete medieval defensive architectural ensemble and is a Unesco World Heritage Site. Carcassonne hosts a huge music festival for the month of July with events to suit every taste.
The Canal du Midi, also a World Heritage site, meanders through the region. The nearest section is at Trebes, twenty minutes away, with the opportunity to take boat rides to Carcassonne and beyond. Alternatively you can relax in waterfront cafes and bars and watch the world go by.
The Cathar Chateaux of Lastours, Villerouge-Termenè, Termes, Quéribus, Peyrepertuse and many others are all within easy reach (between 30 and 60 minutes) as is Monsegur, the last standing point of the Cathars situated in the Pyrenees. Mirepoix is a lovely medieval town to visit en route to Montsegur. Rennes-le-Château receives tens of thousands of visitors per year being the location of an alleged buried treasure discovered by its 19th-century priest.
Minerve (45km) is a fortified village where the Cathars refused to abjure their faith and died singing at the stake. It is situated on a stunning gorge and is another of the Plus Beaux Villages de France. The village has many artisan craft shop and gives its name to the region’s famous Minervois red wine.
The longest and oldest carnival in the world takes place in Limoux (49km) from January to March over a series of Saturdays and Sundays with mystical masked “actors” parading through the town three times a day playing music, singing songs and playing pranks (all conducted in the ancient Occitan language).
The Mediterranean is less than an hour away with long sandy beaches and azure sea . Not to be missed is the beautiful town of Narbonne with its beautiful cathedral, famous 1901 wrought-iron and glass market, Les Halles, and wide promenades alongside the Canal de la Robine.
The nearest Ski Station is in the Pyrenees at Mont D’Olmes , One of our favourite things to do with visitors is a ride on the Yellow Train across the Pyrenees to Spain. It is just 75 minutes to the Spanish border, an easy day trip to Girona and to the Salvador Dali museum in Figueres . It is only 3 hrs to Barcelona.
There is much more to see and do than can be written here and activities for all the family within easy reach including grottos and caves to explore, white water rafting, golf, aqua parks, Mediterranean gardens and a stunning African Safari reserve on the coast.
We can supply links for potential guests to useful websites.