Things to do
Axat has a fabulous public outdoor swimming pool with views to the Pyrenees, and is in walking distance of the house. There is a water slide, and a wide patio around the pool with plenty of space for sun bathing.
The pool is open on weekends from June 10th and every day from 1st July-31st August. Opening hours 2017: 14.30 - 19.30
There are also outdoor swimming pools in Quillan, Alet les Bains, Limoux and Rennes les Bains. There are indoor pools at Limoux and also Quillan (although this is adults only) NB. Many French public swimming pools insist on men/boys wearing speedos! (not the pool at Axat though).
Lots of villages and towns in the area have swimming lakes with ‘beaches’, these include Puivert (near Quillan), Arques and Lake Montbel all nearby.
The nearest seaside beaches are about 45 minutes-1 hour drive away, Head east to Perpignan, then North or South to one of the many beach resorts. There is also an Aqualand water park at St Cyprien.
The red tourist train departs from the station at Axat on a variety of routes, and is highly recommended.
Canoes or sea kayaks can be rented at numerous spots along the Languedoc-Roussillon coast, including at La petite Camargue.
Inland, kayaking, canoeing and white water rafting take place at numerous spots on the River Aude; particularly good is the stretch between Axat and Quillan. Several companies offer guided trips.
For road cyclists, the roads are generally quiet and peaceful, and being the Pyrenees can be very challenging; the tour de France frequently passes through the area. There are less arduous routes as well if you don't fancy a day of climbing.
Good quality road bikes are available to hire locally, we can recommend a local bike hire company who also organise guided rides in the local area.
With 870 km of tracks, the Aude is a great destination for mountain biking. The area offers some of the best mountain biking in the Pyrenees, with routes of all difficulties and durations detailed in local guide books for the region (copies available for ref
erence in the house).
All around Axat there are forest paths offering easy walking with lovely views. Opportunities for more strenuous walking abound in the surrounding hills.
There are lots of footpaths around the village. Following the river in the direction of Mijanes, you will find the spectacular valley “Gorges de St. Georges”.
There is skiing available in several local resorts, including the spa town of Ax les Thermes (51km, which is also a great venue for cycling and walking in the warmer months). The nearest ski slopes are at Mijanes which is around 25km away. Other venues include Les Angles (46km), Puyvalador and Formigueres.
Food and Wine
Castelnaudary sits on the Canal du Midi, west of Carcassonne and is the home of the Cassoulet. They take this dish of beans, pork and duck very seriously here, and it has its own academy. Every year thousands flock to the Fete du Cassoulet in Castelnaudary.
Cap Leucate on the coast north of Perpignan, is the home of the freshest shellfish, served just with bread and the local dry Muscat wine.
Blanquette de Limoux is the local sparkling wine, first produced in 1531 (well before champagne).
Many vineyards in the local area will allow you to taste their wine and Blanquette before you buy.
There are lots of excellent restaurants locally, many of which are recommended in the Michelin guide. The menus are usually good value and include wine. Most restaurants offer a menu enfant (children’s menu)