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Castelnau d'Aude, population 370, is a Languedoc village whose daily life is dominated by winemaking and grape-growing. Many residents own and work the surrounding vineyards (which, for you wine fanatics, are largely part of the Minervois appellation).

The village officially came into being in the 10th century, although traces of an old Gallo-Roman villa indicate that the site has been occupied for at least 2,000 years.

During the Middle Ages, a large chateau and watch-tower were built on the hillside to guard against sacking and pillaging by invaders. The watch-tower is now the belltower for Castelnau d'Aude's church. (You can leave your watch at home - the bells faithfully chime every hour and half-hour.)

After the French Revolution, the village began to take its current form -- many of its homes date from the last 200 years. The planting of vineyards began in earnest at about 1900 -- and today, viticulture is still Castelnau d'Aude's primary "industry."

Every weekday, different butchers, bakers and farmers bring their specialties by truck to the village's market square near the town hall and post office.

The neighboring village of La Redorte, 1km from Castelnau d'Aude, offers easy access to a wider range of services, including a large supermarket, gas station, ATM machine, cafes and restaurants.

 

 

In short, Castelnau d'Aude is a classic French village. Neither a tourist trap nor an empty shell of old ruins, Castelnau quietly thrives.