Aude

  • The Toulouse Whisky Festival was held this past weekend and the event delivered some surprises about the French and their relationship to this spirit most popularly associated with Scotland. This was the second edition organized by the Hopscotch Pub & Brewery of Toulouse. And like the first one, this one sold out. It also attracted about 40 distilleries, primarily from places you’d expect — Scotland, Ireland, and the U.S. — but also from Japan, New Zealand, Denmark, and Sweden. Included in that last group is France itself. When I first heard about the festival, I was both mystified and excited…

  • I spent several weeks this fall exploring a controversy that echoed across the southwest of France: The question of whether the heretics known as the Cathars existed or not. You can read more about the discussion in my story for the Los Angeles Times. Whatever comes from the debate, the Cathars are destined to remain an important part of the tourism draw to this region, particularly in the Aude Departement which has embraced the label “Pays Cathares.” The tale is a fascinating and critical part of early modern European history, and the sites associated with the Cathars offer a stunning tour through…

  • Driving about an hour southeast from Toulouse, a short hop off the highway just before Carcassone puts one right in the middle of the Aude Department. Beyond the famous fortress, the Aude produces fantastic wines and offers tantalizing views of the Pyrenees. For the second year, we roused ourselves early on a Sunday morning and drove down here with our friends Rebecca and Bernard to Château Guilhem. Situated in the little town of Malviès, in the territory of Malepère, the wine estate was holding its annual harvest fundraiser to support Autisme 31, a non-profit. It’s a great cause, but for us, it’s…

  • On Sunday morning, we drove about 90 minutes southeast to the town of Lagrasse, France to visit a friend and do some hiking. The town is in the Aude Departement, tucked in between Carcassone, Narbonne, and the Pyrenees. It’s tough to get a sense of any French town on a Sunday, as most everything is closed. But Lagrasse’s city center has a reputation for attracting a lot of artists and creatives, and we passed a lot of local shops that allowed us to glimpse some of that in their window displays. And we did to happen to find a shop open for…

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