Thursday, 13 August 2015

Lac de St Ferreol - A Little Bit of Local Action

We decided to have a quick trip out to the Lac de St Ferreol and check out the AquaZone facility that has been set up there this year. It is a lot like the one they have at the Lac de la Cavayere near Carcassonne but for us is much closer with St Ferreol only being about 15 to 20 minutes away.

Seemed to me that it was pretty popular and was being enjoyed by both children and adults. 

Judging by the queues waiting to go on, there is a good chance that it will become a regular feature each summer adding to the many facilities already on offer at the lake.

The prices didn't look too bad either, ranging from 7 euros for an hour, 11 euros for two hours, 16 euros for for four hours and 20 euros for unlimited enjoyment.

Not bad with a life jacket thrown in and lots of different inflatables available to challenge everyone. Who knows, it could be the start of a local 'Wipeout' program?

Of course there is not just the new AquaZone at St Ferreol, you can also hire pedalos, go windsurfing, hire paddle boards and canoes. The lake is also surrounded by lots of cafes, restaurants and little shops. 

Just down the hill towards Labecede and Castelnaudary  you can find the museum of the Canal Du Midi and a lovely picnic area next to the cascades and the big fountain below the museum buildings. In fact there are picnic tables dotted all around the lake, perfect for lunch after the Saturday morning food market at Revel perhaps. 

The cascades are where the feed to the Canal Du Midi start, so you can imagine with 67 hectares of lake sitting right behind them, the cascades can be pretty impressive at certain times of the year.

So as you can see, even before the new AquaZone the lake at St Ferreol was well worth a visit and now there is even more to enjoy and I haven't even spoken about just how beautiful it is up there simply walking around the perimeter of the lake, which takes about an hour, or visiting the arboretum to search for the ancient oak trees that reside there. All with the lake as a backdrop.

Monday, 3 August 2015

A Walking Tour of Castelnaudary

Map courtesy of the Office de Tourisme
This tour is approximately 3km and starts at the Moulin du Cugarel right at the top of Castelnaudary. Not only do you get to see the mill itself, you also get to look at the views across the plains towards the 'Beverly Hills' of Castelnaudary, better known as our little village of Issel, from the Table d'orientation where you can find information on some of the history of Castelnaudary including Simon de Montfort's skirmish with the 'Count de Foix'.

So plenty of history to take in before you even head into town from the top of the hill. If you take the Rue de la Comedie from the mill you will arrive at the 'Place de Verdun' once the home of the Office de Tourisme now relocated next to the Halles aux Grains in the Place de la Republique. This is where you will find the Halle de Verdun a beautiful pillared building that many people have admired for its architecture. The photograph at the bottom of the post gives you an idea why.

From here you can take the 'Grand Rue' to the church of St John which has commanding views over the Grand Bassin towards the Pyrenees. Just a little further along, via the Rue de College, you will find the Musee du Lauragais where you can explore more of the history of the town and of course the Lauragais region generally.  

Going down the hill from the museum you can follow the road down to the 'Ecluses Saint Roch', a four gate lock that links the Canal du Midi directly to the Grand Bassin, the biggest port of the canal and where luxury boats are available for hire from 'Le Boat'.

From the lock you can skirt around the 'Grand Bassin' via the Quai's Canelot, Edmond Combes and Labouisee past the 'Ile de la Cybelle' and then cross over the bridge into the 'Cours de la Republique' which is the main road through the centre of Castelnaudary. The road will take you past the 'Hotel de Ville', the 'Halle aux Grains', several restaurants, cafes and shops back up to the 'Place de Verdun' which is almost where you started this little tour of Castelnaudary. 

This final section is even better on a Monday morning when the weekly market takes place or during the 'Fete du Cassoulet' at the end of August each year when the iconic dish of the town of Castelnaudary is celebrated. 

Well it has been around since medieval times, so it deserves a little bit of credit. But personally I can't help thinking that the 'Fete' might be better celebrated in the winter months when such a hearty meal would bring some real comfort on a chilly day. Perhaps there should be two 'fetes'?

French Theme Zazzle

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