"The Next Provence" -- Travel & Leisure, May 2002
Le Petit RÍve is the perfect starting point for exploring
the natural beauty, relaxed villages, and culinary surprises
of the Languedoc-Roussillon region. Within a 20-minute drive
from Castelnau d'Aude are a host of larger villages with weekly
outdoor markets (Lezignan-CorbiŤres, Olonzac), wineries with
tasting rooms (Homps, Pouzols-Minervois), and breathtaking
views (the medieval village of Minerve). The nearby 17th-century
Canal du Midi (right), which stretches from the Atlantic to
the Mediterranean, offers the chance to see the region by
A half-hour drive west from Castelnau brings you to
the walled city of Carcassonne. Another half-hour drive
from Carcassonne brings you to Castelnaudary, the birthplace
of cassoulet, southern France's famed stick-to-your-ribs
pork and sausage casserole.
A half-hour drive east from Castelnau d'Aude takes
you to Narbonne, with its renowned medieval cathedral
and all the shopping, restaurants and nightlife you
need during your stay.
Just past Narbonne are the Mediterranean beaches of
Narbonne-Plage and Gruissan - worth several visits,
thanks to the region's mild climate and 300 days of
sunshine a year.
In all directions you'll find villages like Minerve
(right), with medieval churches and castle ruins, many
of them relics of the bloody wars between the crusading
Christians and the local followers of the Cathar religion.
One of the loveliest is the secluded Fontfroide Abbey,
with guided tours, lovely herbal gardens, a wine-tasting
room and a highly rated restaurant.
For longer day trips, Le Petit RÍve is a 20-minute
drive from the major A9 and A61 autoroutes, which provide
direct access to Toulouse (1hr. 15 mins.), Montpellier
(1hr. 15 mins.), Perpignan and Collioure (1.5 hrs.),
and Barcelona (3 hrs.).