The Razès is the historical name given to what is now the north western part of the Aude but the term lives on in many of the local communal names such as Bellegarde-du-Razès and Villarzel-du-Razès. An area of glorious countryside filled with quiet country roads lined with vineyards Malpère and the Razès provide the perfect destination to take your time and meander through, whether by car, bike or on foot.
For Wine and Women…..
Cathar township of Montreal
Fanjeaux and its monastery
Explore peaceful country roads
Canal du Midi nearby
Visit the local chateaux and wine tasting cellars
on Côtes de la Malpère wines
Malpère and the Razès are bordered on all four corners by some of France’s most historic and picturesque towns. You really are spoilt for choice when visiting here. In the north western corner lies Castelnaudary, the main pleasure port on the Canal du Midi whilst the hugely impressive UNESCO world heritage site of Carcassonne lies on the north eastern tip. Bordering the south western corner is the medieval bastide town of Mirepoix complete with half timbered houses and a lively weekly market and on the south eastern tip Limoux, a delightful market town on the banks of the river Aude and renowned as the Carnival capital of France.
Not only famous for its neighbours, Malpère and the Razes enjoy their own slice of history. Visit Montreal, a Cathar stronghold and scene of many notable events during the rise and eventual fall of the Cathar religion. Drive 10km west and you reach Fanjeaux which witnessed the birth of the doctrine of Saint Dominic and his order. After taking the sighting of a comet as a sign from God, St Dominic decided to build a monastery for Cathar women returning to Catholicism at Fanjeaux. The first monastery was destroyed during the Revolution but was subsequently replaced in 1879 with the nearby Monastère de Prouille.
In medieval times, the villages of this region were often situated on hilltops and built in a circular fashion for security reasons. Many examples of these ‘Circulades’ exist in this area and are well worth a visit for their characteristic style. Alaigne, Bellegarde du Razès, Cailhau, Lasserre-de-Prouilhes and Mazerolles du Razès are good examples.
No trip here would be complete until sampling the fine local wine at one of the local chateaux and wine-tasting cellars. The Côtes de la Malpère vineyards spread out over the mainly sandstone slopes of the Massif de la Malpère, which peaks at the Mont Naut at 442 metres (1,450 feet).