I was the last to be served but finally, my order arrived. First, my coffee and then my nose followed the sweet chocolatey hazelnut aroma as the Nutella crepe was placed in front of me – indeed a delicacy of the region (!!). The square was relatively quiet aside from the carousel my young nephews were raucously enjoying, one of them shouting “again, again” to their Aunt (my lovely wife).
Across the square, an immense 13th-century gothic cathedral silhouette towered high casting a long shadow that pointing directly at us. My eyes traced the shadow back and followed it until the sun glared from around its spire and at that moment, my imagination kicked in and childhood scenes of the Roman Empire storming the rebellious little Gaulish village of Asterix and Obelix…!!
Back to reality, and gazing around, the colourful homes with the visible old wooden framework and contrasting shutters atop stilts that created a covered arcade around the square shading us from the blazing afternoon sun.
Visiting this town was a chance discovery. One that many have probably experienced – Facebook! I’d checked in at our villa in a nearby village and a friend made the recommendation. I Googled it, loved it and shared it with the group. It didn’t take too long to gain their buy-in and before you know it we’d packed, loaded the cars were there experiencing the quaint, rustic and stunning example of french history and, to top it off, we practically had the place to ourselves! there were minimal people around, food and (more importantly) beer service was fast – TGIF!! an added bonus.
Walking up to the Cathedral was like David walking up to Goliath. It wasn’t like other cathedrals I’ve seen. this one had minimal detailing that didn’t take anything away from the impressive high arch windows and gargoyles that stretched out from the ledges and corners. The awe didn’t stop there. Inside was even more remarkable – an amazing presence from the moment I entered its immense chamber. It invoked a serene calm and, as I walked around to the front, passing the walls shimmering with the light coming through the stained glass, I could hear everything – even the slightest sound resonated adding to the already captivating experience. After completing my investigation, I turned back saw that hung high on the back wall was the ‘thousand pipes’ of what has to be the grandest (gothic) organ I’ve ever seen looking down at me. I can only imagine the timbre this instrument would have made in such a space…
Stepping away from the village, we headed back the villa. A stunning and rustic in every way, our closest neighbour some 100m away. Vine after vineyard surrounded us along with fields that have been harvested laying in wait to be sewn for another season.
An hour away and we were in the Chateaux of Carcassone. A castle that looks like it had been lifted out of a fairytale – cylindrical towers with pointed caps (with the added gothic touch here and there) on top surveying the region…
- Travel format: we drove from London – 3 in the car, 22hrs there, 17+hrs back – NEVER AGAIN! – fly and hire a car!
- Location: Belvèze-du-Razès
- Accommodation: Air BnB –
- Places of interest that we visited:
- The Village of Belvèze-du-Razès – Local Pub, Vineyard, convenience store (15-20min walk or 5min drive from our villa).
- The Gaul Town of Mirepoix (25-30min drive).
- The medieval Carcassonne Castle/Cathedral (35-40min drive)
- Other places of interest:
- Limoux (20min drive)