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'?

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