For several weeks now, between the traffic jams, metro, our little building with elevator, an irrepressible need for fresh air and space. So I looked for a welcoming, unfamiliar, accessible and friendly destination where we could discover some new sites and take our time. And on the internet, the site www.collinescathares.com had caught my attention. After a few days of reflection (there are still many possibilities: castles, caravans, tree houses, barge), we made our choice, our luggage, and presto, in the car… On the way to Bram, Hounoux and Saint-Sernin in the Aude. From Toulouse to Bram, toll to toll: 45 minute journey.
Eburomagus and its outdoor trail
Our first stopover, upon our arrival at 11:00 am, is the small circular village of Bram. After parking in Place Carnot (right in the center), we turn off the engine, the laptops and begin the weekend! Total disconnection.
Our first discovery, at the museum: a plan engraved on the ground representing Bram’s “circulade”. And then, inmediately after, the remains of Via Aquitania, ancient road which passed in Bram in Antiquity times. One can observe the archaeological sections up to the ancient period. There is even, recognizable among all, a strip of land corresponding to the time when the place was used as a cemetery!
The collections are very well staged, especially the amphorae, and it quickly becomes clear that the region had been occupied since the Iron Age, organized around an important pottery and trade activity.
When we leave, we are advised to take the small outdoor trail, which takes us to the sites of the main archaeological discoveries, and in the end, to the small park of Essar [t] s…
A good lunch d’ici et là
We take back the car to get a restaurant and enjoy a good meal. Five minutes from the center, the Cuisine D’Ici et là restaurant has a terrace on which we sit for a small aperitif while we wait for the dishes to be ready.
A little moment of sweetness: we are alone on the terrace, the grape juice is a delight, it comes from a local producer based in Fanjeaux: Calmet. I advise ! Finally we come back to taste our dish: today Waterzoi of hake. The decoration is really warm, pallets, wood: here, we feel good, and we eat well!
The Essar[t]s exhibition visit
Before returning to visit the current exhibition at the Maison des Essar [t] s (visible until September 13, 2020 on Wednesdays, Saturdays and Sundays from 2 p.m. to 6 p.m.), get some fresh air by browsing the small paths in the park. A few small panels make up a green course highlighting around twenty remarkable species present. Finally we push open the solid wood front door. And there, a real surprise!
The spaces are open and bright, leaving all its part to the showcased artistic practice, in this case the famous photographer Doisneau.
Being both photography enthusiasts, we were fascinated by the giant reproduction of one of the greatest masters of French photography. We relentlessly rediscover his childish, mischievous gaze … his most legendary visuals, such as the Baiser de l’Hôtel de Ville.
We then let ourselves be tempted by a coffee in the associative space of Pause [K] fé. Impressive library dedicated to art lovers … we took the opportunity to slowly leaf through a few books. A real moment of tranquility.
Lazy afternoon in
Domaine de Verniolle in Saint-Sernin
At last, the starting signal comes! Destination our trailer in the heart of the Piège (Trap). Yes, you read that right: the Piège. It is a hilly massif which constitutes the first foothills of the Pyrenees. And, as its name does not indicate, it is also a small paradise where tranquility, wide open spaces rhyme with scenic beauty. In the foreground: the soft reliefs where fields and vegetation make up a unique patchwork.
In the background, the Pyrenees. And nothing else ! We did well to enter the address in our GPS, to find the wonderfull place of Domaine de Verniolles, the welcome of the owners on our arrival, the beauty and the calm of the place quickly dispelled any apprehension to be lost.
We would dream about staying here, near the lake, on this sumptuous historic tower… The owner proudly explains that its construction probably dates from the medieval period. His companion Mrs. Rieux accompanies us to our trailer. There, a welcome appetizing platter awaits us. We are delighted: the trailer is even more romantic than I expected. Mrs Rieux opens the historic tower to us so that we can have occupations in. She tells us about a pool table (that’s it, my husband is stamping his feet) and a library (each in turn).
After finishing our afternoon at the estate, we enjoy a diner on the terrace, quietly. We then go into our little nest to look at our photos of the day. And there, suddenly, we become aware to the silence that surrounds us, and to the sky where light pollution does not prevent us from looking at the stars. A real joy !
Morning hike tour from Hounoux
The next morning, we take advantage of the small kitchenette next to the trailer, like the night before, to prepare a good breakfast here: bread, jams, honey… everything is local. Finally, before leaving the premises, we grab backpacks and tennis shoes to head towards Hounoux. On the advice of our host, we download the mobile application to discover local routes: Au Coeur des Collines Cathares.
Let’s go for a hike along the cretes in Hounoux. The path takes part of the GR7 and 78 (towards Saint-Jacques de Compostelle).
With the interpretation panels and the application, you can discover the landscapes of the Aude, and geological history.
It largely explains the extraordinary diversity which makes this region so attractive: the Pyrenees, the Lauragais furrow, the Montagne Noire …
A real breath of fresh air: exactly what we needed!
Sculptural Trail in Fanjeaux
The Fanjeaux bell tower is like a lighthouse in the landscape, a signal at an altitude of 360 meters, which radiates over the Lauragais plain. The rich history of this city is revealed through the streets where the gardens enchant the stones. It is here, in the heart of the Cathar Country, that Simon de Montfort and Saint Dominic have chosen to settle to lead the fight against heresy … The particular sculptures by Loïc Tellier will tell you the story of this charming city. If you come on site with toddlers, don’t forget to stop at the tourist office.
Little hike tour in Laurac
In Laurac-le-Grand, the small town, once capital of Lauragais, didn’t lost its charm.
The remains of the 13th century Porte Saliège allow the passage to a stroll through time. An interpretive trail guides you from the center of the village to the surrounding hills. From viewpoints to viewpoints, from panel to panel, discover the fascinating history of this ancient castrum. Don’t forget to download the discovery mobile application (free) before arriving on site: it will allow you to listen to and recognize the birds that inhabit these hills!