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Castelnaudary in the Aude department

The famous city of cassoulet is just 38km from your campsite in the Aude. In addition to this gastronomic stopover, the town has many surprises in store for its visitors.

Aubry Françon, CC BY-SA 3.0 , via Wikimedia Commons

With the midi canal running through it, Castelnaudary, a fortified medieval town close to Carcassonne, is a pleasant place to take a stroll and discover its rich heritage.

Built around the “ Castellum Novum Arri” (now the Musée de Lauragais), the town was the cradle of Catharism, and became a target for crusader leader Simon de Montfort, who saw the conquest of Castelnaudary as a means of weakening the Count of Toulouse, a fervent defender of the Cathar faith. He took the town and had to endure a siege by the Count of Toulouse, who had come to retake the city. It was a failure for the troops of the Count of Toulouse, but was retaken in 1221 by the Count before Catharism finally collapsed with the capture of Montségur.

During the Hundred Years’ War, the town was destroyed by the Black Prince, son of the King of England. It wasn’t until the reign of Henri II, and especially his wife Catherine de Médicis, that the Cathar province once again became an important center. In fact, it is a powerful city, concentrating administrative and judicial powers. She erected the Présidial, a civil and criminal court, which led to the installation of numerous magistrates in the town.

In the 17th century, the town experienced an episode of the Fronde, but in this century of great change, Castelnaudary welcomed the construction of the royal canal that crossed the Languedoc region. This would become the famous Canal du Midi, visited by thousands of people. The panorama of the city is breathtaking: from the little port, across the Pont Vieux, the Grand Bassin opens up, leading to the Pont Saint Roch and finally to the locks.

A historic town in the Aude department

You’ll discover many relics of the town’s glorious past as you stroll through the old town: the impasse des Boutiquiers, the former Carmes convent, private mansions and the Grand Bazar in the town hall…

On the large Place de Verdun, a beautiful covered market stands witness to the town’s transformation into a bastide town in the 14th century. Today, restored, it offers a peaceful setting around its fountain and plane trees, while being very lively thanks to the many stores that have replaced the boutiques of the herbal market…

Continue your tour with a visit to the church of Saint Michel, originally a Romanesque fortress temple, now an imposing Gothic edifice, with nine side chapels and a high pyramidal spire rising to 50 m. The bell tower boasts a 35-bell carillon, one of the largest in France. Inside, the beautiful, listed organs date back to the 18th century.

On your way out, admire the ten exceptionally well-crafted Passion of Christ panels in the small Notre Dame de Pitié chapel.

Castelnaudary, the world city of cassoulet

Finally, don’t miss the opportunity to taste the famous cassoulet… which, according to legend, was invented during a siege and was initially made with beans and meat, to give the fighters back their strength, who were in fact victorious. beans having replaced broad beans in the 16th c.

Discover here the real recipe of Cassoulet de Castelnaudary

On the last weekend of August, the town pays tribute to its favorite dish with the great cassoulet festival.

It’s a popular family event with free music and tastings all day long…

Many reasons to spend a day in Castelnaudary during your stay at “le Martinet” campsite.

Click here to book your cottage or camping pitch.

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