Rennes-les Bains

35 KM
65 Minutes
Route D118
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Carcassonne

With its 3 kilometres of ramparts and its 52 towers, the high town of Carcassonne, situated on the left bank of the River Aude, is the largest fortified city in Europe! Listed by UNESCO as a World Heritage Site, the famous and impressive medieval Aude town, which was admirably restored in the 19th century by the architect Eugène Viollet-le-Duc, is one of the most visited locations in France.
Those who love heritage and old buildings can have a great time exploring the architectural treasures of Carcassonne... The majestic Gallo-Roman and medieval fortifications which encircle the town, the imposing Narbonnaise Gate flanked by two high, overhanging towers, the 12th century Counts' castle, built in the Trencavel dynasty and today housing a museum of masonry, the Saint-Nazaire Basilica with its Gothic statues and splendid 13th and 14th century stained-glass windows, as well as the Promenade des Lices, nestling between the two city walls, are all wonderful reminders of the past which can be appreciated while strolling about. The charming Marcou square, dotted with shaded café terraces, and the picturesque streets, lined with souvenir and craft shops, are also great places to explore during a walk around the city.
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Located 22 km from Routier

The Espéraza Dinosaur Museum

Dedicated to the history of life on Earth, the Espéraza Dinosaur Museum, located in the upper Aude valley where the most substantial French dinosaur remains were found, has an area of 3,500 square metres where you can learn about palaeontology and step into the incredible world of dinosaurs. An impressive collection of dinosaurs of various species, made of skeletons and life-size reconstructions, is exhibited here.
The Evolution Gallery, which describes 4.5 billion years of life on Earth, holds hundreds of fossils of reptiles, mammals, invertebrates and vegetation, many millions of years old!
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Located 20 km from Routier

The Black Mountain

Nature lovers and hikers, come and discover the abundance of the Black Mountain (Montagne Noire)! Situated at the southern extremity of the Massif Central, at the edges of the Aude and Tarn departments, this mountain in wild, unspoilt terrain has contrasting types of countryside, as can be seen in the dark forests of pine trees, oaks and beeches towards the north, and the vineyards, garrigue and olive groves towards the south.
The highest point of the Black Mountain, at 1,211 metres, the Nore Peak has a superb panoramic view from its orientation table - you can see the Pyrenees, the Corbières, the Mediterranean Sea, the Toulouse plain and the Lacaune Mountains!
The Prise d'Alzeau, at Lacombe, is the source of the Black Mountain stream which brings water to the Saint-Ferréol basin.
There is nothing like a ramble or a bicycle ride for exploring the natural and built heritage of the Black Mountain, and discovering its typical villages like Roquefère and its castle!
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Located 36 km from Routier

The Saint-Ferréol
lake

At the foot of the Noire Mountain and near the fortified town of Revel, the Saint-Ferréol lake is located in an unspoiled forested area. What a special site! 67 hectares in size, the Saint-Ferréol lake was conceived by Pierre-Paul Riquet, the architect of the Canal du Midi, with the aim of being the main water reservoir of the Canal du Midi.
Today, this lake is very popular with sporty types and people who just want to chill out. Its beautiful shores are dotted with trees and a great place to relax. The waters of the lake are perfect for sports and leisure activities, such as windsurfing, swimming, pedalos and canoeing.
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Located 38 km from Routier

Camon

Nicknamed "Little Carcassonne", the fortified village of Camon nestles around an ancient Benedictine abbey and is one of "France's Most Beautiful Villages". Among the gems to explore are the Clock Gate (Porte de l'Horloge), Tall House (Maison Haute) ramparts, abbey-château and 16th-century church and treasure house.
Also known as "the village of 100 rosebushes", Camon is in bloom with a multitude of roses every May. This magnificent sight is honoured with an annual rose festival on the third Sunday in May.
A themed trail in the surrounding hills takes walkers on a tour of numerous dry-stone huts – a wonderful illustration of Camon's rural heritage and wine-growing past.
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Located 36 km from Routier

Montbel lake

Montbel lake covers 570 hectares and is fed by the clear water of the Hers. It is a favourite spot for migratory birds and a good place to watch other wildlife.
With its forest surroundings and equipped beaches, this is a lovely place to unwind, while it also offers water-based recreational activities such as fishing, canoeing and kayaking, pedalo, boating and, of course, swimming!
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Located 20 km from Routier

Mirepoix

The bastide town of Mirepoix was rebuilt in the 13th century following a flood. From its medieval past it has preserved a 14th-century fortified gate and a stunning market square surrounded by beautiful half-timbered houses whose first floors jut out over the square creating an arcaded walkway below. The café terraces, shops and traditional market on Monday mornings make it a lovely spot to visit. Make sure you stop and admire the old facade of the Maison des Consuls for its typical medieval wood carvings.
Next to the square stands the southern French Gothic-style Saint-Maurice cathedral with a vast 48-metre long and 22-metre wide nave.
The town organises a host of events: Les Fêtes Historiques with shows and a costumed procession on the third weekend of July; a puppet festival at the start of August; and one dedicated to apples on the third weekend in October!
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Located 21 km from Routier

Alet-les-Bains

Renowned for the benefits of its spring water, the charming medieval village of Alet-les-Bains, in the upper Aude valley, has beautiful stone and timber-framed houses, as seen in the picturesque square, the Place de la République. Not far from there stand the remains of an ancient Benedictine monastery, built in ochre sandstone, which was founded in the 9th century, the Abbey Cathedral of Our Lady of Alet: the romantic ruins of a Romanesque apse, the unfinished Gothic choir and the chapter house of the northern entrance.
Fans of relaxation and swimming should be sure to sample the delights of the outdoor spring water swimming pool, which is open in July and August. Fans of whitewater sports can gleefully descend the Aude by canoe-kayak, raft or hydrospeed!
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Located 23 km from Routier

Montségur Castle

Montségur castle, the symbol of Cathar resistance rebuilt at the start of the 13th century, was once a refuge for Cathars hunted down by the Inquisition.
The stronghold was besieged for 10 months before being taken by the royal army in March 1244, the month of the Prat dels Cremats ("field of the burned") tragedy when 225 Cathars who had refused to renounce their faith perished on a funeral pyre. A history and archaeology museum in the village of Montségur traces the history of the site and of Catharism through a rich collection of objects found during excavations at the castle.
Montségur fortress is perched on top of a rocky spur at an altitude of 1,207 metres and can be reached on foot in 30 minutes. In addition to its medieval remains, it offers visitors a magnificent panoramic view over the village below and the surrounding scenery.
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Located 50 km from Routier

The castles of
Lastours

A barrier for the Cabardès region from the 11th century until the Revolution, and a spearhead of the Cathar resistance in the 13th century, the Lastours site is an exceptional ensemble, with its four medieval castles standing proudly at the summit of a rocky spur, overlooking the Orbiel valley.
Standing amid wild, unspoilt countryside, this remarkable ensemble can be admired from the viewpoint of Montfermier, a place unmissable for its splendid panoramic view of the remains of the Lastours castles: Cabaret, the Régine Tower, Surdespine and Quertinheux.
Then head for Rabier, the former textile factory, to see its archaeological exhibition "Lastours, 4,000 Years of History", before climbing up the path leading to the majestic ruins of the four castles!
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Located 50 km from Routier

The Domain of Abbot Saunière

From the heart of the upper Aude valley, in the Corbières, comes the story of Bérenger Saunière, a curate in Rennes-le-Château from 1885 to 1917, which has caused much ink to be spilled.
An unexpected windfall, the origin of which remains a mystery to this day, made it possible for him to build a superb domain in a few years - as shown by the Villa Béthanie, the Magdala Tower and the Glass Tower – and to lavishly restore the modest village church.
In the former presbytery, a museum tells the incredible story of Rennes-le-Château and the mysterious fortune of Abbot Saunière...
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Located 23 km from Routier

Rennes-les-Bains

Take advantage of a break at Rennes-les-Bains, in the upper Aude valley, to enjoy the health-giving properties of the waters at the spa resort.
Take a moment to appreciate the calm atmosphere, rest and recuperate at the spa, which offers health and fitness breaks, beauty treatments and an outdoor pool filled with warm spring water, a Turkish bath and a Jacuzzi.
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Located 35 km from Routier

Montolieu

Perched on a rocky spur, at the heart of the Cabardès wine-growing area, Montolieu amply deserves its nickname of Village of Books, with its twenty or so bookshops, its booksellers' gallery, book craftspeople and unmissable Michel Braibant Museum.
This latter is entirely concerned with book-related arts and crafts, and examines the history of the book from the birth of writing up to the great achievement of typography and printing. There are practical, educational workshops covering typography, calligraphy, illumination, etching, bookbinding, and illustration run by book craftspeople from Montolieu.
Bibliophiles should on no account miss the old and collectible book fair which takes place every year at Montolieu over the Easter weekend!
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Located 24 km from Routier

Puilaurens Castle

From its height of 697 metres, the Cathar castle of Puilaurens, on a rocky spur at the edge of Fenouillèdes, proudly overlooks the verdant Boulzane valley.
An amazing example of the military architecture of the Middle Ages, Puilaurens Castle, once one of the "Five Sons of Carcassonne", played an important role in the defence of the old border between France and Aragon.
Before you can admire the crenellated walls, the barbican, the circular path, the remains of the square keep or the Dame Blanche Tower more closely, you must follow a pleasant botanical path which climbs to the foot of the fortress!
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Located 37 km from Routier

Puivert Castle

The square gate tower, the curtain walls, the courtyard of honour and the 35-metre-high keep, which has four splendid rooms (such as the Musicians' Room with cul-de-lampe sculptures of people playing different instruments), are all examples of the medieval architecture you can admire on your trip to Puivert Castle, which dates from the 13th and 14th centuries.
Positioned at the top of a gently sloping hill, this ancient Cathar site, which was attacked during the crusades of 1210, towers majestically above the village of Puivert and its lake...
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Located 22 km from Routier

Saissac Castle

In the foothills of the Black Mountain, below the picturesque village of Saissac and directly above a ravine, stand the remains of an ancient Cathar castle.
Built in the 10th century, and reconstructed between the late 13th and early 14th centuries, then remodelled in the 16th century, Saissac Castle still retains a sturdy, polygonal keep, quadrangular towers and curtain walls, as well as a Renaissance building. In the latter, two restored rooms house a museum display about the monetary treasure of Saissac: 2,000 deniers from the 13th century!
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Located 28 km from Routier

Vals rock church

Dominating the small village of Vals is Sainte-Marie rock church, a mysterious and unusual group of buildings carved out of the rock. Accessible via a staircase built through a cleft in the rock, the building consists of two naves on top of each other and houses some splendid Romanesque frescoes depicting episodes from the life of Christ.
The church also has a terrace with a fantastic view over the surrounding countryside and the Ariège Pyrenees. Not to be missed!
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Located 30 km from Routier

Lagrasse

Nestling at the heart of the Corbières, the picturesque village of Lagrasse, classed amongst the most beautiful in France, makes a lovely picture, with its old humpback bridge over the Orbieu, its medieval houses, the remains of ancient ramparts and its abbey overlooked by an imposing bell tower.
Before visiting the Abbey of St Mary of Orbieu, take a stroll in the medieval town, a place full of charm, where you can admire an old 14th-century covered market with stone pillars, art and craft shops, and a Gothic church listed as a Historic Monument.
Then on the opposite bank you can find the Benedictine Abbey of St Mary of Orbieu, founded in the 8th century, which was very prosperous in the past and had considerable intellectual influence. The courtyard of the old palace, the lower chapel, the cellar, the bakery, the sacristy, the north transept, the pre-Romanesque tower, the monks' dormitory, the Chapel of St Bartholomew, the Master of Cabestany's room and the guards' room are all fascinating sights to see during your visit to the medieval part of town, which belongs to the General Council of Aude.
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Located 40 km from Routier

The Aude gorges

Over time, the River Aude, hurtling down the slopes of the Pyrenees from its source in the Carlit massif in Pyrénées-Orientales, has carved deep gorges in the rock.
This is particularly the case in Pyrenean Piedmont, close to the village of Axat, in the department of Aude, where you can admire the Pierre-Lys pass, to the north of Axat, and the Saint-Georges gorges, to the south of Axat. These two natural sites are remarkably good for whitewater sports like rafting, kayak, canorafting and hydrospeed!
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Located 31 km from Routier

Roquefixade Castle

Roquefixade castle is perched on top of a high cliff opposite the stronghold of Montségur. A place of refuge and resistance for the Cathars in the 13th century, it was destroyed in the 17th century on the orders of King Louis XIII.
Accessible throughout the year via a footpath leading from the village, the citadel ruins offer a panoramic view over the Pays d'Olmes, the Pyrenees, Le Lauragais and Les Corbières.
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Located 36 km from Routier
Guesthouse Le Chat Botté
19, Rue Bernard de Routier
11240 Routier
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