Towns and villages worth a visit
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Gruissan
Gruissan is a village, port (pictured) and beach all rolled into one. It lies between sea, lake and mountain. You can learn to windsurf, sail a catamaran, go fun boarding or even learn to scuba dive. If you want to take your time in a more leisurely pace there are lovely beaches to relax on or do a spot of sea fishing. The tiny village offers several tempting restaurants and there is a peaceful (but lengthy) walk around the lake.
Castelnaudary
Known and much loved in Castelnaudary since the 15th century is the authentic cassoulet, a dish of beans, sausages and pork. Not a meal for the faint-hearted.
Collioure
Collioure is a delightful and pretty fishing port made famous by the artists Braque, Picasso and Matisse. There is also an anchovy salting works that you can visit. Also worth a visit is the Château Royal. Frantically busy in July and August.
Lagrasse
One of France’s most beautiful villages but very busy during the season.
La Franqui
This beautiful tiny seaside village on the shores of the Med is a 45-minute drive from Paraza. It offers a superb sandy beach, several good restaurants and watersports. It does get busy in the height of the season, though.
Limoux
Situated 25km from Carcassonne it is an ideal place to start exploring the Cathar country. Visit the Catharama to learn more about the history of the Cathares. Try La Blanquette de Limoux wine. The wines of Limoux have been famous since ancient times. Three varieties of white grape are used to make Blanquette, the oldest sparkling wine in the world.
Minèrve
This little town must be visited on foot. It overlooks the abysses of the Cesse and the Brian and was built in the 11th century. It retains its medieval look with its ruins and the frontages of many of the houses.
Pézenas
Clive of India stayed in Pézenas in 1768 for his health and petits pâtés of Pézenas were first made by his Indian cook. These small torpedo-shaped pies with golden crusts contain sweetened meat and today are eaten as an appetiser. Pézenas is a great place to stay or visit. There is lots to do and see such as churches, museums, a distillery, an abbey and there is hiking around the Pézenas area. It is an artistic centre and there are at least five decent antique/junk shops to pick up that bargain...
Port-Leucate
This is a coastline of rocky outcrops and lagoons and vineyards. Port Leucate was especially created and is entirely devoted to watersports - mainly yachting and windsurfing. It has a picturesque village with shops and restaurants. There is plenty of cycling or mountain-biking and walking.
Sète
The city stands on a hill dominating the landscape between the Étang de Thau and the Mediterranean. Sète is the largest port on the French Mediterranean coast and a seaside resort with almost 11km of beach. Visit the Espace Georges-Brassens, take a trip on Les Bateaux Rouges where you can look at the sights underwater through the glass bottom boat. Learn all about the wines of the Pays d’Oc at the Espace Fortant-de-France. There is an exciting jousting tournament on water during August.
Sigean
This is an area of pink flamingos, egrets and seagulls. The Bages and Sigean lake covers an area of 13,600 acres. This natural expanse is trapped between dunes and marshes, the sea and the plain. Worth a visit is the Sigean African Reserve which covers an area of 645 acres. It contains 3,100 animals from five continents. It is open every day.