The centre of this region is the small market town of Quillan which is situated in the middle of a mountainous valley in the foothills of the Pyrenees, at 300m altitude, and has around 3500 inhabitants. Located in the heart of the Aude Valley, Quillan and the surrounding villages are steeped in a rich history, particularly in relation to the Cathars, and their troubled past with the Catholic Church. This history can still be seen in the castle ruins high up in the mountains, the lively food markets, and the festivals and parades that take pride of place throughout the year. How to get here There is a good network of transport linking the area both to the UK, and other parts of France. There are a number of airlines that fly to the region, as well as trains and buses operating in and around the area. Plane – The main airports in the area are Carcassonne (45 minutes away), Perpignan (1 hour away), Toulouse (1 h 30 minutes away) and Girona (Spain) 2 hours away by car. Ryanair flies to Carcassonne from London Stansted, East Midlands, Liverpool, Cork, Shannon, Bournmouth, Edinburgh, Leeds-Bradford, Dublin and Brussels Charleroi. It has a major hub at Girona (Spain) flying to practically all UK regional airports as well as most of its other European destinations. Car hire is also less expenive in Spain than in France. Easyjet flies to Toulouse from London Gatwick and Bristol, as well as Paris. British Airways flies to Toulouse from London Heathrow. Air France flies to Toulouse from many internal French destinations. Train – The SNCF runs a direct train between Quillan and Carcassonne four times a day (two of these are by bus between Quillan and Limoux). Carcassonne has a large train station, and has train links across France, including Toulouse, Perpignan and Paris. See the SNCF website for more details. Bus – As well as buses to Limoux and Carcassonne through the SNCF, there are also independant buses to Carcassonne, Perpignan and its airport and Foix. Where to stay There is a wide range of accommodation available in the area, from camping sites, to bed and breakfasts, to hotels. Both Aude Tourism and Aude Pyrenees have created useful guides for places to stay. Things to do in the area Markets – Many of the towns across the region hold a market (both food and local items) at least once per week. In Quillan, are market is held every Wednesday and Saturday. On the second Wednesday of every month there is a huge market that attracts producers from all around the region. In addition, throughout the months of July and August there is a night market from 6pm selling many different items, including locally produced jewellery, and it is often accompanied by local musicians. Ode to Aude has produced a list of the main markets on in the area, and the days on which they are held. Castles – There is a large number of castles that still remain from the battles of the Cathars, centuries ago. They are dotted throughout the region, perched on mountain tops, and are available to visit. They are definitely worth a visit - Aude Tourism has produced a guide to the most popular ones. Additionally, many of the towns themselves have historical chateaux and churches that are worth a visit. Quillan’s castle, for example, was built in the 12th and 13th Century by the Cathars and had an important military role until the movement of the Spanish border. Work has recently begun to excavate and reconstruct this historic site. Carcassonne Cité is a fully reconstructed castle just outside the centre of Carcassonne. It is a fully working site, full of shops and attractions, as well as a superb example of a Cathar Castle in its former glory. It was used as the setting of a Robin Hood film, and concerts and traditional sporting shows are often put on there. It really is a must-see. Museums – There are many museums in the area, and two of the most interesting ones can be found in Esperaza, which hosts both a hat-making museum that links back to the hat-making history of the region (Musée de la Chapellerie), and a dinosaur museum, boasting locally excavated finds (Dinosauria). There is also a large African Safari Park close to Narbonne, as well as an Australian zoo and World of Birds close to Carcassonne. Sports and Activities – The forge at Pierre Lys, and the Saint George gorge, offer a huge array of activities on the water, and in the local cliffs. They offer white-water rafting, kayaking; body boarding, rock climbing and caving. There is also a large number of walking routes throughout the Pyrenées hills, notably the Forest Walk between Quillan and Camurac. It is also a popular area for mountain biking and fishing. For the winter, there is also a number of ski slopes close by. For further information on these activities and more, visit aude-en-pyrenees. Festivals The Aude Valley is home to a huge number of festivals and celebrations throughout the year, for many different occasions. During the Spring (in May and June), the Festival for Outdoor Activities is held, which features a huge number of sports, music and a carnival. In the summer, the main attraction is the Folklore festival, which features a number of traditional singers and dancers from across the world, who play in many of the towns across the area for a week. The Cycling Criterium, the oldest cycling competition in France, is held in August, and often features famous cyclists from France and the Tour de France. National events, including Bastille Day on 14th July, and la Fête de la Musique (a huge music festival held in June) are also well celebrated! As well as these specific events, a huge number of smaller fêtes, parades and town meals are held in the towns and villages across the Valley. Aude in Pyrenées has produced a useful web guide to the festivals. Further Information Some good general websites with guides to what’s on, and the history of the area, include: http://www.ville-quillan.fr http://www.aude-en-pyrenees.fr www.audetourism.com Aude Tourism has also produced an English guide to the main towns and villages across the Aude.
About The Quillan Area
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