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Dates for your Diary - Just a tiny taste of what’s on here.

January

Limoux Carnival – From January to April; the longest in the world! Every weekend watch the Fécos drawn from different neighbourhoods; les Arcadiens, las Fennas or les Blanquetiers. Enjoy the morning parade in fancy dress, or the afternoon and evening torchlit parades in traditional costume. Great fun for all ages, and a perfect way to banish the winter blues. www.limoux.fr


February

The ski station at Camurac is the only ski resort in the Aude Pyrénées, blending the charm of a mountain village with the excitement of the pistes and is an ideal base for beginners and families. There’s also a free trail for cross country skiing and snow-shoeing! www.lespyrenees.net


March

With Limoux Carnaval coming to a close, it’s time to celebrate Toques et Clochers; an annual wine festival, attracting world wide interest, celebrating the creation of local high quality wines which are auctioned with the proceeds going towards restoring the village churches. The Saturday before Easter weekend, one of the 40 villages (Clochers – the village bell) in the group hosts the festival where producers exhibit their wine. There’s always a packed programme and you can explore the village with a glass in your hand, stopping to sample food, wine and enjoy exhibitions from local artists and many more attractions. www.toquesetclochers.fr


April

Spring is in the air and the region opens its doors to tourism in earnest. The Canal du Midi starts its cruises and, with the melting snows, the Pyrénées mountains welcome walkers and provide many other activities. Easter Monday is also a day for walking, but don’t forget your omelette pan and eggs for the traditional picnic lunch! www.midicanal.fr

And if you fancy a trip to the coast, the Mondial du Vent is held every year at Leucate; 9 days of competitions for wind and water lovers, from windsurfers to sail karters, an experience not to be missed. www.mondial-du-vent.com


May

Celebrate the last weekend in May with Bandas en Malepère at Montréal d’Aude. A dozen bands from France and beyond compete for coveted medals whilst providing high quality entertainment. The two co-operative Caves of the Malepère wine region are on hand to provide refreshment and a variety of local gastronomic specialities will help sustain you through the weekend. www.lesphacocheres.com

And when you’re sitting, glass in hand after a hectic day’s sightseeing, just listen for a moment and you may hear a nightingale singing.


June

The Fête de la Musique is celebrated on 21st June and first took place in France in 1982. Going by the slogan “Faites de la musique” (literally, make music!) the festival promotes music by encouraging amateur musicians to perform in the streets and there are also many free concerts organised with the aim of making all sorts of music accessible to everyone. Midsummer also brings the Fête de laSt Jean (St John the Baptist) which is celebrated all over France, indeed in many parts of the world. The last weekend in June is normally set aside for dining and dancing and not forgetting the traditional bonfire and fireworks.

 


July

This month sees France truly en fête! The Festival de Carcassonne provides its usual variety of high quality entertainment, so book early to avoid disappointment! And be sure not to miss Carcassonne’s magnificent firework display on 14th July, France’s national holiday. You’ll find that many of the smaller towns and villages have their firework displays on 13th July so you can celebrate twice! www.festivaldecarcassonne.com

Another festival not to be missed is the Festival de Folklore International en Pyrenées-Audoises. Dance troupes from all over the world visit villages and towns across the region, bringing a taste of the exotic to the summer season. www.aude-en-pyrenees.fr/folklore

Another plus is that the world famous Tour de France never passes too far away as it invariably includes one or two stages in or around the Pyrénées mountains.


August

In the heat of summer why not escape the crowded beaches and head for the cool of the mountains, enjoying the lakes and rivers, the shady forests and all the many activities going on. You can still get a good tan if you wish and profit from the splendours that this Cathare country has to offer. And after all that exercise, you’ll be ready to tackle the annual Fête du Cassoulet at Castelnaudary; the capital of this traditional local dish.
www.fete-du-cassoulet.com


September

Autumn in the Aude; a magical season when the vines change the colour of their leaves,when the torpor of summer is shaken off and everywhere is a hive of activity as the grape harvest is brought in. And the ambient temperatures mean sightseeing can be more comfortably enjoyed as well as local walks. It’s the perfect time of year to explore the region.


October

The grapes have been picked so now it’s time to taste! Acquaint yourself with local producers of both wine and many other gastronomic delights. It’s also a time for picking and gathering; not only grapes, but fruits, mushrooms, nuts, just to name a few, in preparation for the forthcoming leaner winter months and any activity provides an excellent excuse for a party - naturally! And as the summer visitors take their leave, they are replaced by a great variety of migrating birds, many of whom are making their way further south, so it’s an ideal time for bird lovers to come.


November

Despite the shortening days, the smell of wood smoke in the air conjures up images of cosy fires and hearty meals. This region is a master of gastronomy so why not take pleasure in discovering a real Occitan feast for yourself. The local Ferme-Auberges offer a wonderful choice of homemade delicacies; pâtés, sausages, meat and poultry dishes, not to mention fresh cheeses, ice cream and puds made from home grown fruit. Tempted? Go on! www.aude.fr


December

Have you got your shopping list? It’s the time of year for the traditional Goose Fairs with delicacies galore to tickle your senses. But if you’ve a different idea of retail therapy, why not check out the Christmas lights of Carcassonne or Toulouse with their profusion of elegant boutiques to find that perfect present. And why not wrap up the year with le Réveillon de la Saint-Sylvestre and celebrate New Year’s Eve French-style. It’s a wonderful excuse to dress up and dance the night away in good company, supping on the traditional French onion soup before winding your way home. Bonne année!