The most astonishing sites in Aude?

Cabrespine and Limousis

We are in Aude, France, where we have a house (cum office) in a tiny village, Saint-Louis et Parahou, nestled in the Pyrénées. The scenery is spectacular. The weather is enjoyable, even in the middle of an amber warning severe drought period (“vigilance canicule”). Whatever your favourite leisure activity, you should find something much to your liking here. There are long walks in woods and mountains, horse riding across the mountain, the sea, lakes, art, canoeing, history, dinosaurs, the local food (this area is the centre of organic agriculture -or “bio” as the locals call it), etc.. The further you move away from the coast, the more fascinating it becomes.

Natural and Historic Interest

This year, apart from long walks across magnificent and huge woods (you need a good map, if you intend to walk from one col to the next while avoiding roads) we decided to explore some of the many sites of natural and historical interest. Wild life is abundant: foxes, deer, wild boars. By the way, do you know that we have 3 words in French for wild boars (and they are not even similar!!!). We do our best to try to confuse people who are learning French. The male boar is “un sanglier”. The female boar is “une laie” and, wait for it, the cubs are called “marcassins”. To avoid getting shot by  hunters, wear something turquoise or purple)

Four type of Caves

This year, we  decided to visit some of the many caves in the area. You need a minimum of fitness, but it’s not particularly  strenuous. There is nothing better than leaving a car park, baking under a relentless sun, and walking inside a natural feature where the temperature is constant (14 to 18°C, depending on the location of the cave). There are basically 4 types of caves in the area: natural caves where the human species has been living for close to 15,000 years (such at Limousis), “Gouffre” – a form of hollow mountain (such as Cabrespine, which is defined as a GIANT gouffre), caves available to people who like to go pot-holing (such as Cabrespine, again, where you can go for an organised walk alongside the bank of a river crossing the mountain.  It is known that this river is some 17km long across this mountain, but only half of it has been discovered so far. Feel free, but be warned that the problem is caused by narrow underwater passages).  Fourthly, there are caves which are no longer visited because the locals cannot remember the exact location (there are 2 of them in our local woods, la Forêt des Fanges).

Stunning Visual Experience

In Limousis and Cabrespine, the guides were very good and informative, provided you know enough French. The guide in Limousis was not only excellent and informative, he was also really funny. For instance, he jumped up and down to prove the quality of the acoustics (you don’t want to miss that). He also played music by hitting a set of stalactites called “drapes” (very eerie and strangely melodious). Apart from this, both sets of caves are visually stunning. Cabrespine for its huge – cathedral like and stunning in its beauty; Limousis for the journey-under-the-earth experience through different chambers.

You can visit Limoussis and Cabrespine in one day, as they are quite close to each other. There is even a special price, if you do so. Both of them are close to Carcassonne. Kids are welcome and would be fascinated by both of them.