Limoux is a bustling town at the foot of the Pyrenees and in the middle of Cathar Country. It is mostly known for its sparkling white wine called blanquette and for the longest carnival in the world. But if you have some time, Limoux is a lovely little town to explore in a couple of hours. Especially if you combine it with a lunch under the medieval arcades surrounding the Place de la République.
During our last holiday in the Aude department, the family didn’t feel like discovering Limoux and only wanted to have lunch. So, I decided to go back and visit the town properly at my own pace. And I’m glad I did, as it was a charming surprise. Driving into Limoux, I soon enough found a free parking lot along the D118 facing the Rue des Remparts. From there, I decided to walk into town via the covered market. I visited Limoux on a Friday, which means market day at La Halle, the Rue de l’Officialité, the Place de la République and the Place d’Aude.
Place de la République
Although I arrived towards the end of the morning and the market was about to come to an end, there was still some hustle and bustle going on. Mainly at the Place de la République, which is the dynamic heart of Limoux. On Friday mornings, the famous square transforms into a colourful market area. Any other day of the week, the numerous restaurants under the arcades use the square to set up their cosy terraces. Even in winter, the best seats are outside with heaters to keep the temperature comfortable. And the Place de la République is also the place where the Limouxins celebrate their three months (!) long carnival.
Crossing the Pont Neuf brought me to the other side of the Aude river. Although its name suggests being the new bridge, it actually is the oldest one in Limoux. It was rebuilt from wood into stone in the 14th century and connected the two parts of the town. From the bridge, you’ll have a beautiful view of the bell tower and the Gothic architecture of the Saint-Martin church. There are a few small museums here, like the Musée du Piano situated in a former church, the Musée Petiet hosting a collection of 19th and 20th century paintings, and L’institut des Arts du Masque with its collection of carnival and artistic masks. I stumbled across the Musée des Automates, a place where imagination seems to come to life. The handmade mechanical characters brought me to a fairytale world.
Notre-Dame de Marceille
Back on earth, I decided to make a little detour to visit the Notre-Dame de Marceille Basilique. It is located on a hill just outside of Limoux, overlooking the region. You can walk to this iconic church in half an hour from the Place de la République. If you walk via the ‘Voie Sacrée’ (sacred road), you will see the ‘Fontaine Miraculeuse’, or the miraculous fountain. It is said that the water treats the eyes. The church can be visited year-round, and from July to September guided tours are offered. After this visit, I finally felt like I had met Limoux properly.