Located 45 mins south of Mazamet, this is a tale of two cities, literally. The old “La Cité” is a medieval walled city that had been largely renovated and is now a UNESCO World Heritage Site.
Although the entrance is now cluttered with numerous shops selling wooden swords, fudge and ice-cream, look beyond that, and venture into the inner sanctum and the museum with its guided tours of the ramparts, and La Cité is still a ‘must see’ visit.
The newer part of the city (yet still 500 years old) has the shopping district, markets and a great place to sit besides the Canal du Midi and watch the boats rise and fall on the locks.
THE PAYS CATHARE
Between Mazamet & Carcassonne are a number of sites, chateaux, churches and villages, built in the 12th & 13th century by Cathars. Taking the view of the Roman Catholic church, the Cathars were purely and simply heretics. To the Cathars, they were followers of a truer version of Christianity than Catholicism and came from of all aspects of the community rich and poor.
Whilst Carcassonne itself played an important role (particularly as a fortification against the battles with the Catholic Church and the Royalist of France), there are numerous other villages connected to Catharisme that we point guests towards to explore the myths, legends & history of this rather dark period of history in SW France.
In August 2010, Albi became a UNESCO World Heritage Site. Located 45 mins north of Mazamet, a day trip to Albi (by either car or bus) is a must when visiting the region.
In addition to its location and stunning architecture, Albi’s two key attractions are its gothic red brick cathedral, built in the 12th century, and the adjoining Toulouse Lautrec Museum, dedicated to the famous son of the area and his artwork.
France’s 3rd largest city, and home to the European space & aeronautics industry, can be reached by car or train in 90 mins. A large cosmopolitan city with a great cafe culture, historic buildings and museums it is worth a day trip IF you enjoy city-life.
Many visitors to Mazamet fly into Toulouse and tag on a visit to the city on their day of arrival or departure (depending on flight times).
Mazamet sits in the foothills of the Mountain Noire (Black Mountains) and a short drive from its neighbouring range the “Mont de Lacaune” to the north of the town. Of equal height, at 1,200 metres, to the Montagne Noire – a drive through this stunning scenery will take in mountain pastures, medieval villages (Brassac & Olargues being two picturesque places to visit) lakes and some unusual places like Sidobre where you will see massive balls of granite, rounded by the ice-age and tossed like marbles and resting in valleys.
90 mins by car (there is no direct public transport) are the beaches of the Med and the two nearby cities of Narbonne & Beziers. Visit the Canal du Midi, cathedrals with cloistered gardens, art galleries and great restaurants. Narbonne Plage, the city’s beaches (around 20 mins from the city) are worth a visit with good amenities. A little further afield, the picture-postcard waterside village of Colioure, which inspired artist Matisse, should be high on your must see list too.
VINEYARDS & WINE TASTING
From the casual to the formal, a wine tasting visit can be arranged with local vineyards that are located in various official wine regions “AOCs” within an hour of Mazamet. St. Chinian, Cabardés, Cote du Languedoc, Limoux & Minervois can all be easily accessed.
Many operate on a turn up and taste basis, whilst others you need to pre-book and offer a gourmet lunch alongside tasting of their wines. Or contact Mazamet’s own Fine Wine Tours Fine Wine Tours.